Tuukka Rask stopped all 31 shots and Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist as the Boston Bruins shutout the New Jersey Devils 3-0 in their home opener.
Marchand got things going for the Bruins 3:33 into the opening frame. Linemate David Pastrnak found Marchand just as the Bruins entered the offensive zone and Marchand rifled one in on Schneider for a 1-0 Bruins lead and his fourth lamplighter of the season. Joakim Nordstrom gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead as he scored his first goal of the season at 11:22 of the first period.
Rask deflated any hope the Devils may have had of staging a comeback in the second as he stopped all 15 New Jersey shots in the middle frame. The Bruins were able to then pad the lead in the final minute of the period as Patrice Bergeron scored a powerplay goal with 46 seconds left.
The Bruins put the clamp on the Devils in the third and improved to 4-1-0 on the season. Head coach Bruce Cassidy is impressed with the start and expects things to get even better when the second line starts to rack up points.
“I think we’re fully valued for our record, but I do believe that our exits out of our zone have to pick up; we have to be cleaner with our managing the puck, and then some second chances around the net for some of the other lines
to get rewarded,” Cassidy said following the win. “And I think Krejci’s line did more of that the last two games, unfortunately, one got called back so not quite, but they’ve been getting better in that area, so it’d be nice to see them get rewarded for their work.”
The Ducks will be at TD Garden Monday for a 1 PM Columbus Day matinee.
Is October Finally Tuukka Time? Rask has been notorious for slow starts in the last five seasons. Last season, he only won once in the opening month of the season and struggled into mid-November, before going on a mid-season tear that was followed up by an even better playoff run. Is that run of success starting earlier this season? Rask has won all three of his starts this season and has now stopped 90 of the 94 shots he’s faced this season. He’s simply been a wall between the pipes and is now 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and .957 save percentage.
After his first shutout of the season and his 46th of his career, Rask acknowledged that he feels like this season is just a continuation of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs where he put the team on his back and finished the playoffs with a 2.02 GAA average and .934 save percentage.
He believes he and his teammates are just feeding off the motivation to finish the job this season and win the Stanley Cup. The 32-year-old veteran netminder has also been impressed with how his teammates have seamlessly carried over their ability to play within their system.
“I think when you finish your season in June, it helps everybody kind of have that feeling in the back of your head how to play this game and system-wise we’ve been pretty solid so I’m just tagging along here,” Rask said.
Marchand Stays Hot – Right now it seems like anytime Marchand shoots the puck on net, there’s a very good chance it’s going to find twine. The Bruins pesky sniper now has four goals and every time he touches the puck his teammates are expecting something good to happen. Not only did he score Saturday night but he also set up his linemate, Bergeron, on the power play for his third helper of this young season. If this keeps up, there’s a very real chance Marchand could surpass the century mark in points after hitting it last season.
Points and goals aren’t all that makes Marchand a special player. He’s also a 200-foot player that can kill penalties. His skill and defensive prowess was on display midway through the second period on the penalty kill when Marchand and Bergeron essentially played keep-away with the Devils.
Brad Marchand & Patrice Bergeron killing penalties.
That's it — that's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/GX5dFV52XB
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) October 13, 2019
“He’s feeling it,” said Rask. “That’s one of his strong suits. He protects the puck well and the crowd gets going and it gives him that extra boost and sometimes that puck is on a string with him. I wish he would’ve scored on that play.”
Interchangeable Fourth Line Does It Again – The fourth line chipped in again as Nordstrom lit the lamp at 11:22 with Kuraly and Wagner getting the helpers. Nordstrom was playing in just his second game after missing the first three contests with a foot injury. His goal was just another example of the luxury Cassidy has with a fourth line that doesn’t just play solid defensively but has some skill as well. That energy line is also interchangeable as Cassidy can slot newcomer Par Lindholm in as well and expect the same results.
“They did what they typically do, which is play against good players, manage the puck, check well
to get it back, long shots, killed penalties,” Cassidy said. “They were able to chip in offensively which is — I think
it picks everybody up on the team when they get rewarded because they do a lot of the grunt work,
rarely see the power play. When they get opportunities to finish, I think it picks up our team.”
Ritchie Draws Back In; Backes and Lindholm Sit
Forward Brett Ritchie drew back into the lineup after watching from above in Denver for the Bruins’ 4-2 loss to the Avalanche. Ritchie played on the right with Charlie Coyle between him and Danton Heinen on the third line. The first-year Bruin played 14 shifts and 10:23 on ice. He had two shots on net. David Backes and Lindholm, were the odd men out.
After scoring on his and the Bruins’ first shot of the season, Ritchie hasn’t been bad when he’s played but he hasn’t been that much of a factor either. At 6’4, 220, he’s got some size obviously, and if he gets his legs going, he can actually pick up some speed motoring down the wing as was evident with his snipe in Dallas. The main issue, as it was in Dallas, is can he do that consistently? With a logjam at the forward position, Cassidy has made it clear that he will alternate the likes of Ritchie, Lindholm and Backes in and out until one of them seizes a regular spot. Will that player be Ritchie? We shall see.
Here’s what the rest of the lineup looked like:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen – Charlie Coyle – Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton