In his 500th NHL game, Boston Bruins goalie Jaro Halak earned his 49th shutout with a 22-save performance in a 2-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Bruins have now won eight straight games, earned points in 12 straight games and are 12-0-4 in the comfy confines of TD Garden.
Charlie Coyle and David Krejci each scored their sixth goals of the season 1:08 apart in the final 4:05 of regulation after 45:55 of scoreless hockey and a goaltending duel between Halak and Hurricanes goalie James Reimer who ended up with 32 saves in the loss. Brad Marchand and Danton Heinen got the helpers on the Coyle tally and Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak assisted on what was Krejci’s 200th career goal.
As he did in 48 of his first 499 games, Halak left the Hurricanes with goose eggs on the scoresheet and earned his 49th career shutout and 260th win in his 500th game. It has been a very good career for the 271st overall pick (ninth round) in the legendary 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. Ten years after he was serving as a backup for Carey Price when the Habs hosted the Bruins in their Centennial game, Halak was earning his 29th win with the Bruins and improved to 6-0-3 with a 2.35 GAA and .930 save percentage.
“Might as well get it with a shutout, right? Good for him,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “He battles hard in there. In my opinion, he’s a number one goalie in this league, he’s proven that. He plays great for us, gives us a chance to win every night. So for us, for a coach, for players out there, knowing it doesn’t matter who goes in the net, you’re going to get quality goaltending. Give us a chance to win and more every night. I think the guys are real happy for Jaro, he’s a guy that battles in practice too for the guys as he takes those extra shots when he needs to be. I thought he was real good tonight.”
It seems like almost every start this season, Halak has made the reigning general manager of the year Don Sweeney know that signing Halak was one of the reasons he won the award last June. Halak can become an unrestricted free agent next July 1, but the read here is that Sweeney will work his magic again and lock up one of the most important players on this team, despite not being the starting goaltender.
Halak could be a starter on at least half the teams in the NHL right now and the fact that he doesn’t gripe about lack of playing time and just buys into the team culture and system is amazing and also a good sign he may not try and break the bank and take a discount just to stay in the team he praised after he became the 74th NHL goaltender to play in 500 games.
“I’m just glad that I’m part of this group. It’s a special group,” he said. “We are so close and we keep proving it on the ice.”
Time To Appreciate Krejci
Facts are often damned in Boston when it comes to Bruins banter. If it’s not the Tuukka [Rask] hate dominating the airwaves and social media, it’s usually the “Krejci is overpaid and always hurt” nonsense, with talking heads and fans alike screaming for the Bruins to dump Krejci and his $7.2 million cap hit. Unfortunately, they don’t understand that on most teams, Krejci would be a first line center and well, one could argue that’d bargain for a top pivot in the NHL.
Since November 16, when Krejci moved into Patrice Bergeron’s spot as the team’s top center between David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, Krejci has four goals and seven assists, including one game-winner in overtime and three third period goals. On Tuesday he sealed the deal with an insurance goal to make it 2-0 with 2:57 left. It was his 200th of the season and Cassidy couldn’t have been happier for a player he and anyone who has played with him realize is worth every cent of that $7.2 million cap hit.
“You know what, I thought — I know he’s a pass-first guy, but I always assumed he had more than that, to be honest with you,” Cassidy said of his recent goal surge. “I don’t mean that in the wrong way, it seems like he’s been playing in this league as long as I can remember. I’m happy for him. He’s an unselfish guy, would rather pass first anyway, look after his teammates that way. Nice goal to score, going to the net too. Both of them were like that eventually, we got some separation. It took us a while, but tight-checking games, so good for David. Good guy, good pro, a good teammate. Happy for him.”
Krejci now has five goals and 15 assists in 21 games this season and three lamplighters and four helpers in his last five games.
By the way, for all those who say Krejci is always injured, he ‘s played in 320 of the 431 games since he signed that contract and twice in the last three seasons, he’s reached the 80-game mark. But hey, why listen to facts?
The 19th player in #NHLBruins history to reach 200 goals.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 4, 2019
Coyle Already Earning New Contract
Coyle went pointless in his first two games after signing a six-year extension with an annual cap hit of $5.2 million a week ago but has a goal and an assist in his last two games, including the game-winner Tuesday night. The Weymouth, MA native whom the Bruins acquired last February, has six goals and ten assists in 26 games this season and has also proved to be a versatile player jumping up the center ladder and playing wing in the top 6 as well.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 4, 2019
That was on display Tuesday as Coyle began the game between Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen but with the Bruins struggling to get quality scoring chances on Hurricanes goalie James Reimer, Cassidy switched things up and moved Krejci back to the second line center slot and Pastrnak to the second line right wing to play with Jake DeBrusk and then slotted Coyle up to play between Marchand and Heinen.
“We weren’t generating much and Jake with Krejci, they’ve been together a long time,” Cassidy said. “I think Jake’s game the last four or five games has kind of recaptured where we believe he can be for us. He’s on pucks and with Coyle, you give him just a different player with ‘Marchy’ [Marchand] over there. It’s just one of those things where I didn’t think they generated a ton the other night against Montreal as a line, so it was just one of those in-game
switches we’ve done in the past. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.”
This one did and Coyle turned out to be a major reason it did and for the Bruins win as that goal was one of six shots for Coyle, who also looks like another bargain for Sweeney and the Bruins.