Hockey is truly a team sport. You need a solid effort from every player on the roster in order to win in the NHL. Every position needs to contribute. A goalie may be able to “steal” you a game by making mind boggling saves, but if the offense doesn’t score then it is all for naught. If the offense is clicking and running on all cylinders but the defense or goaltending is soft, then you won’t secure the victory.
The Boston Bruins have been playing great team hockey this season, especially as of late, winning 9 of their last 12 games. They have scored power play goals in 4 of their last 5 games, going 5 for 17 (29.4%) in that span. Another by-product that can be attributed to team play has been the amount of Bruins who have scored their first NHL regular season goal this year; 7 players have netted their first career tally. That does not happen without trusting your teammates.
Part of playing team hockey is knowing that everyone on the team has a job to do and if you’re not doing your job there are consequences. Bruins forward Anders Bjork has not played to his potential during the last 6 games and as a result found himself a healthy scratch as the Bruins hosted the New York Rangers early Saturday evening.
“It worked for Jake [DeBrusk], I think. Just taking a deep breath and going up watching it from up top,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said pregame on Bjork being out. “Just understand it’s not automatic you’re going to be in the lineup every night. We have good players who have sat out; good players that don’t get in there every night, and there’s competition.”
Coming up huge in net tonight for the Bruins was Tuukka Rask. He made some impressive saves in the second period, when his team was trailing by 2, to keep them in the game. No save was more important than when he stoned Rick Nash on a short-handed breakaway bid.
“Very good,” Rask replied when asked about how the team was playing defensively. “Stingy. I mean very, very good. There’s not a lot in the slot area there which is great. That’s where the goals are scored for the most part. I mean, we recently are giving up some breakaways but those things happen. When you play with skill and try to make those plays, those things happen and that’s why we are there to try to cover it up. But overall, I think the slot defensively has been great.”
The Bruins found themselves down by two goals early in the game, however they found a way to come together and tie the game. Doing their part on offense were Danton Heinen and Brad Marchand, who with his 13th goal of the season now has points in 8 straight games.
“Yeah, no, we absolutely didn’t have the – we weren’t as sharp as we’d like to be, but going down two-nothing, it was nice to get back in it, you know,” Heinen said about scoring a goal and getting the team back in the game. “We battled back and got a point out of it and unfortunately fell a little short.”
Unfortunately, for the Bruins a too many men on the ice penalty would cost them dearly in overtime as Mats Zuccarello beat Rask with a perfectly placed shot into the high corner of the net to give the Rangers a 3 to 2 win.
“No, I saw him release it,” said Rask. “You know, you play your angles, the guys in front are doing the flat screen and I saw him release it and I just made a save. But you know, it’s a perfect shot. If you beat me like that, I tip my hat and you won because I thought he’s got no corner there but obviously he did.”