Boston, Ma – What a difference a week makes. The Boston Bruins 7-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on the banks of Lake Tahoe had a 90’s rave feel to it, complete with Walk-Man, fluorescent one-piece ski suits, and “I’m a Barbie Girl” choruses. Then back-to-back losses in New York had the team feeling like a Mafia hit floating in the Hudson River. A 7-2 thrashing at the hands of the Islanders followed by a 6-3 curb-stomp by the Rangers had Head Coach Bruce Cassidy questioning the team’s resolve.
The Bruins regained their swagger on Sunday, a 4-1 win against the Rangers, before heading back to Boston. The Washington Capitals and old friend Zdeno Chara are in town for two straight at TD Garden. The Bruins (12-5-2) trail the Caps (12-5-4) by two points in the MassMutual East Division for first place. Washington has won three straight and six out of their last eight.
David Pastrnak continued his torrid play against the Flyers by notching his 10th career hat-trick, and second of the year against Philly, while bringing back the “Macho Man” Randy Savage look. The Outdoor game had Trent Frederic notch his first career NHL goal, while Nick Ritchie continues to make his case for the 7th Player Award with a goal and an assist. Charlie Coyle picked up his first goal in over a month while Charlie McAvoy potted his first in over three weeks of play.
The Islanders continued their mastery over the Bruins, Thursday on Long Island, with a dominant third-period performance. A 2-2 game was blown open when the Isles scored five goals in just over 10 minutes of play. The 7-2 loss was Boston’s worst of the season from a scoring standpoint. The positives in that one were few and far between. Cassidy went with Jaroslav Halak in goal to try to break the Islanders run of play against the Bruins. It didn’t go over well.
The next night in Manhattan the Bruins and Tuukka Rask suffered a similar, if not worse, fate. The Rangers dominated from the opening puck drop. The Bruins showed some of their customary resilience by keeping the score close, 2-1, until late in the second period. Colin Blackwell and Chris Kreider goals in the final 1:08 of play combined with two early strikes in the third by Pavel Buchnevich and Jonny Brodzinski snuffed out any chance of a comeback.
After that game, defenseman Brandon Carlo said what most fans were probably feeling.
“This doesn’t happen here. It can’t go on any further like this,” said the 6′-5″ Carlo. “This is unacceptable.”
Cassidy was more blunt in calling out his younger players.
“You know (Patrice Bergeron) and their line is going to find their game,” said Cassidy. “But the guys in the middle who have an opportunity and some days maybe go home and say ‘Geez, I wish I got more minutes’ or ‘I wish I had a better chance,’ the (Anders) Bjorks, the (Jake) DeBrusks, the Johnny Moores, the (Connor) Cliftons who have been out of the lineup, guys who’ve been in the league a little bit, (Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly), who are going to see more minutes because it’s three in four nights and it’s back-to-back, (they need to) put a little onus on themselves to impact the game.”
The message was heard and on Sunday the Bruins made the Rangers pay. Coyle goals book-ended the win while Frederic notched his second of the year and McAvoy scored his third of the year. Rask had 20 saves in making just his third back-to-back appearances.
“That’s Bruins hockey for us,” said Coyle. “When we play that way, I think we have more fun and you see our work pay off, and we’re a hard team to play against.
“We get the result more times than not when we play that way. You could see it every shift, guys doing their job, playing their role, plays into our identity and that’s huge. It’s fun to play that way, it’s fun to get the result.”
The Bruins look to add David Krejci and Matt Grzelcyk back to the line-up on Wednesday, or possibly Friday in Grzelcyk’s case. Boston lost defenseman Jeremy Lauzon to a fractured hand early in the Tahoe game against Philly. The team added defenseman Jarrod Tinordi from waivers on Monday. The 6′-1″ 230 lb. Minnesotan spent the last two years in the Nashville system.