by Bob Morello
Bruins add wins and personnel
The Bruins are working their way through the final days of February, with three games remaining to be played this month, versus Toronto, Buffalo and Carolina. Boston flew directly to Toronto following their comeback 3-2 win Tuesday night, over the still struggling Edmonton Oilers (1-7 last 8 games). The Oilers are still mired close to the bottom of the NHL standings. Boston’s victory against the Oilers was a hard fought effort that saw the Bs rebound from a 2-0 deficit going into the third period, and scoring three unanswered goal in a span of 15 minutes. Noel Acciari potted his seventh goal of the season, Matt Grzelcyk notched his second, and David Krejci found the back of the net for the game-winner, benefitting from assists by Danton Heinen and David Backes with just over a minute remaining in the game.
Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin once again rose to the task, stopping 18 shots, lifting his record to an impressive 12-3-0-4. At the other end of the ice, Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot was called upon to make 42 saves to keep the game close. Khudobin tipped his hat to Talbot, commenting, “The other goalie (Talbot) played a hell of a game. If you are thinking things aren’t going your way then they are never going to go your way. You have to keep positive, keep playing and shooting, and you are going to get rewarded. We were rewarded tonight. We stuck with our game and we got the win.”
With the Bruins playing on the West Coast for three games, General Manager Don Sweeney was hard at work looking for a left-shot defenseman. While Boston fans were probably hoping Sweeney might have a shot at prying away Ryan McDonagh from the New York Rangers, it was not to be. Although, the productive GM was able to make a deal with the Rangers for defenseman Nick Holden, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, by sending defensive prospect Robbie O’Gara, and a third round draft pick to New York for the veteran Holden. This move gives the Bruins some insurance on defense as they wind their way to the playoffs. It was a lesson learned for Boston last season when they lost lost four defensemen to injuries during the playoffs – Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, Adam McQuaid, and Colin Miller.
Sweeney noted Holden highlights, explaining, “He’s played power play, he moves pucks. He’s a bigger guy. He’s played in different roles and situations. We’re going to have to get him in and acclimate him. Guys in the locker room will tell you that there are different expectations in terms of how you were on your previous team, and that’s just coaching philosophies.”
The Bruins remainder of their five-game road trip includes back-to-backs, with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday (2/24 at 7:00pm) who are currently three points back, with Boston still holding four games in hand. The Sunday (2/25 at 5:00pm) game will be a matchup with the Buffalo Sabres who recently handed the Bruins a loss (2/10) on Garden ice. The Sabres are occupying the bottom of the NHL standings, and will be playing the role of ‘spoilers’ when facing Boston. The Bs will host the Carolina Hurricanes, desperately battling for a point to win a playoff spot, on Tuesday (2/27 at 7:00 pm), to end February. Looking ahead to next month, the Bruins will have a heavy schedule in March, playing 16 games in 31 days.
Despite the disappointment of the USA team being eliminated from the 2018 Olympics with a loss to the Czech Republic, a bright spot was the play of, Ryan Donato, a Bruins draft pick who scored five goals in the series. The Harvard hockey standout expressed his bittersweet moments via, “It’s tough. At the end of the day, we’ve got to perform when we got our chances. To win this tournament, you’ve got to capitalize on most of them. I’m truly blessed to have this opportunity to be here. I’ll look back at it as a positive experience and hopefully it will benefit my game in the future.” The young man is mature well beyond his years, and will definitely look good in a Boston Bruins uniform, hopefully in the very near future, despite his decision to remain playing at Harvard, where his dad, former Bruin Ted Donato is the head coach.