The last time the Boston Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks by a 4-0 score they were hoisting the Stanley Cup over their heads and skating around Rogers Arena. Of course, that wasn’t the case Tuesday when the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins beat the Pacific Division-leading Canucks by the same score, but this current Bruins squad sure looks revitalized and poised for another long run as they have now won their first three games back from a nine-day break and four straight games overall.
The Bruins (32-10-12, 76 pts) now lead the Tampa Bay Lightning (33-15-5, 71 pts) by five points and will play the tail end of their second back-to-back in the last week against the Blackhawks in Chicago Wednesday. Here’s your BHN Five Takeaways from another strong, wire-to-wire performance by a Bruins team that is looking more and more like the team that roared through October and November, before getting stuck in a quagmire of mediocrity in December and a good portion of January.
Bruins Playing ‘The Right Way’
The biggest difference between the Bruins team that has come flying out of the break after their break and the one that couldn’t get out of their own way prior to the break is they are sticking to their game shift-by-shift, period-by-period and game-by-game. They’re a much more focused team regardless of what the opponent does.
“It’s nice to start off that way and you get a few wins under your belt,” said Bruins forward Charlie Coyle, who had a goal and an assist in the win Tuesday. “They’re not really flukey either. We’re doing the right things and that’s a good sign coming out of a break. Usually, a lot of teams will have to slowly build their game back up and a little sloppy. …you see it in spurts maybe but we do a pretty good job of correcting that stuff up. So we kind of turn the tide, be more crisp, have that focus and you need that when you’re coming off those breaks.”
A perfect example of this renewed focus and commitment to their gameplan was the way the Bruins reacted to Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, who looked determined to steal at least a point for his teammates that looked flat from the opening faceoff. Markstrom finished the game with 38 saves but the reason he wasn’t able to commit grand larceny like some other visiting netminders have done to the Bruins this season was that the Bruins didn’t get frustrated. They maintained that faith that their hard work would pay off and it did. Coyle’s goal that put the B’s up 1-0 14:24 into the opening frame was a perfect example of that.
“You just stay with it,” Coyle said. “You always gotta be playing the right way and feeling good. If you can’t find that goal, it’s second, third and fourth efforts around the net. …it’s some type of rebound or second whacks at it and you see the first one, it was exactly that. So yeah, you just have to have that mindset to stick with it just knowing that your game will pay off when you play the right way.”
McAvoy Doing Everything But Scoring
Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy is literally doing everything but score a goal lately. Yes, his two assists snapped a four-game pointless streak but since coming back from the break, McAvoy has been a physical presence and a an all-around beast in the defensive zone. Yes, he has now gone 50 games without lighting the lamp but McAvoy and his teammates aren’t worried about that because every game he seems to be improving and eventually the goals will come. They also appreciate the fact that McAvoy has had his teammates backs as he showed again Tuesday when he fought Canucks winger Jay Beagle after he barreled into and elbowed Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask in the head.
“Yeah he’s doing a little of everything,” Coyle said. “It’s not always gotta be just the goals. We’ve got plenty of guys who can score, and I’m not saying he can’t because we know he can, but when you’re not scoring, you’re making sure you’re contributing other ways and he’s doing a lot of that. He’s doing a bunch; sticking up for teammates, being a physical presence, a big hit here and there, great sticks, stepping up at the blue line, forcing offside and just little things in the game that are so big for our game as a whole, which sends other guys in our transition and other guys are scoring because of plays that he’s making. We’ve got a lot of guys scoring so you know it’s gonna come and he’s a big presence for us right now, even though he hasn’t scored and that’s fine.
Home Sweet Home For Rask
Not only did Rask make 25 saves for his third shutout of the season and win his fourth straight game but he also tied Gilles Gilbert’s club record (16-0-1) for a home point streak from the start of the season at 17 games. Rask has not lost at TD Garden in regulation this season and is 11-0-6. He looks fully recovered from the concussion he suffered on January 14 and really seems to be in that zone he has gotten in down the stretch run of the last two seasons.
Kuraly Answers The Bell
After being a healthy scratch in the Bruins’ 6-1 win over the Minnesota Wild Saturday, Bruins forward Sean Kuraly appeared to get head coach Bruce Cassidy’s message loud and clear. Kuraly assisted on David Krejci’s goal at 14:09 of the third period and play his usual solid two-way game.
“I liked it a lot better, Cassidy said of Kuraly’s performance Tuesday. “He had the puck, he was assertive, trying to get to the net. All we’re going to hear about is that move there with a minute to go from him, but we can live with that. I thought he got in shooting lanes. Sometimes freeing up and going to the wing allows you to do some of that; you’re not worried about what’s going on behind me or first back in the zone. It’s something we’ve talked about with Sean — do we toggle him, or try him over there? I thought it worked out well tonight for him and he showed the player he can be for us.”
Powerplay Sneaks One In
Thanks to two late penalties by the Canucks, the Bruins were able to extend their powerplay scoring streak to three games since the break after going 0-for-15 prior to getting nine days off. Karson Kuhlman got his first goal of the season on the man-advantage at 18:10 to extend the streak and the Bruins are now 6-for-14 in their last three games.