by Bob Morello
Bruins streak continues
If one were to take a page from Sesame Street’s ‘letter’ series, the Bruins could certainly do well with the letter ‘P.’ Uses include: ‘P’ for Point streak = now at 14 games (10-0-4); ‘P’ for Puck management as shown in holding the powerful San Jose Sharks in Tuesday’s 4-1 win to 20 shots; ‘P’ for Penalty kill success = Brad Marchand notching his 25th shorthanded goal of his career, tying him with Bruins #16 Banner-holder, Rick “Nifty” Middleton for most in Bruins history with 25, thus earning Marchand the new nickname, “Shifty,” and finally the letter ‘P’ could be assessed to Perfect, as the Bruins have not lost a game in regulation since their 3-2 loss January 19th, against the New York Rangers.
With the Sharks in town on Tuesday night, the Bruins knew that the San Jose, in a battle with the Calgary Flames for the top spot in the Western Conference, would be a tough test. Who better to step up and deliver, but Marchand who contributed a three-point game (1-3), including his smooth, shorthanded goal. Another solid game upped #63’s point total to a team leading 74 points (25-49), well over a point-per-game average. Also contributing to Boston scoring, David Krejci posted the Bs lone power play goal (15) to go along with an assist, Charlie McAvoy served up his fifth goal, and Jake DeBrusk continues to shine putting up his 20th goal, assisted by newcomer Marcus Johansson. The streaking DeBrusk now has six goals and five assists (11 points) over the past seven games.
The Bruins once again used a second period surge to earn the much-needed two points, scoring three unanswered goals, including two quickies in 37 seconds, to take the bite out of the Sharks. Jaroslav Halak provided a solid effort notching his fourth consecutive win, making 19 saves on 20 shots, giving Tuukka Rask a rest in the backup spot as he readies himself for tonight’s (Thursday 7:30pm) confrontation with Eastern Conference/Atlantic Division front-runner, the Tampa Bay Lightning. At press time on Wednesday, Tampa was riding a nine-game win streak, with 100 points. Interesting to see how seamlessly both Charlie Coyle (21 shifts) and Johansson (17 shifts) fit into coach Bruce Cassidy’s lineup, as Bruins GM Don Sweeney continues to shine, with the trades he chose to make, and the players he did not trade.
For the Bruins, it was not a game without physical play and facial arrangements, as the night included a fight undercard with matches that included, captain Zdeno Chara squaring off with Evander Kane, Chris Wagner/Barclay Goodrow, and David Backes introducing himself to Micheal Haley in a brief encounter. Facially, DeBrusk lost a tooth due to a San Jose high stick from Timo Meier, and Noel Acciari, got the taste of a puck to the mouth area. The Chara/Kane heavyweight bout earned Kane 17 minutes in penalties, and he called Chara’s elbow hit a “classic headshot,” and that the League should review it. The NHL Department of Player Safety has stated that they would not have a hearing on the matter (case closed). The Sharks game was the first of Boston’s six-game homestand, the remaining contests will feature all Eastern Conference teams, beginning with Tampa, then the New Jersey Devils who hold 14th place in the conference providing the opposition on Saturday (3/2 at 7:00pm), next up the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday (3/5 at 7:00pm), who are playing well with a three-game win streak, and 8-2 for their last ten. There is a possibility that the Hurricanes will wear the uniforms of the Hartford Whalers, their predecessors as they have recently done a number of times this season. The Florida Panthers stop by TD Garden on Thursday (3/3/7 at 7:00pm) currently holding the 12th spot in the conference, and the Ottawa Senators will finish off the week on Saturday (3/9 at 7:00pm). The Bruins are presently holding onto second place in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference standings, three points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the Leafs holding a single game in hand. Krejci offered his thoughts regarding the confidence of the Bruins team as they head into the month of March, “At this time of the year, just focusing game by game. Obviously we know where we are at in the standings, and that’s where we want to be but we know that it’s going to be a battle. Hockey in March is one of the hardest months of the season so we’ll take it game by game.”