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Five Takeaways: 2011 Déjà Vu Bruin? McAvoy Buries The Monkey

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The Boston Bruins won their fifth straight game overall and fourth since the break with a 2-1 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy got off the schneid with his first goal of the season and first in 55 games to win it 1:19 into the extra frame. Sean Kuraly also tied the game for the Bruins 12:49 into the second period after Alex DeBrincat had given the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead 6:50 into the middle frame. 

The Bruins (33-10-12, 78 pts) now lead the Washington Capitals (36-13-5, 77 pts) for the best record in the Eastern Conference and the NHL. 

Here’s your BHN Five Takeaways from what may end up being another benchmark win for the Bruins since returning from a nine-day hiatus thanks to the All-Star game and their bye week: 

2011 Déjà Vu?

By no means should anyone be looking ahead – or in the case of this veteran puck scribe, looking back – but there are some stunning similarities between the 2010-11 Boston Bruins that broke a 39-year-old Stanley Cup drought and the 2019-20 Bruins squad that has looked like a team on a mission since it has returned from their break. They have beat teams physically; they have simply dominated teams with their pure skill; they have stuck it out and stayed with their gameplan, and on Tuesday night, they caught a break for a second straight night and capitalized after a brilliant penalty kill. 

This team is doing everything a team does when they’re bonding at the right time and their General Manager Don Sweeney is hard at work trying to reward their hard work as then GM Peter Chiarelli did in 2011 when he acquired forwards Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley and defenseman Tomas Kaberle prior to the deadline. Kaberle wasn’t exactly the premier puck-moving D-man Chiarelli thought he was getting but Peverley and Kelly became key depth players and an instant presence in the lineup.

Sweeney is more than willing to swing for the fences and will try to acquire New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider. However, as reported here and again by Bob McKenzie Tuesday night, the Bruins are targeting other players that could come cheaper than Kreider. A player like Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson or Anaheim Ducks forward Ondrej Kase and defenseman Josh Hanson could be the missing pieces to the puzzle that Kelly and Peverley were. 

Don’t forget, much like the bulk of this current Bruins lineup, the 2011 roster experienced a crushing defeat as well when they blew a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

 

Monkey Off McAvoy’s Back And Team Rejoices

Following a two-assist performance for McAvoy on Tuesday night, teammate Charlie Coyle made sure to get McAvoy’s back when given the chance and being asked about McAvoy’s goalless streak continuing.

“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.”

When McAvoy got the monkey off his back and scored his first goal not just this season but in 55 games, forward Jake DeBrusk made it clear how excited he and his teammates were for McAvoy but almost put him on IR too. 

After the game, McAvoy was definitely feeling the love.

“We’re such a close group. I could feel everyone’s genuine happiness for me and we all share that with each other when anybody does good things,” he told the media.

Breaks Starting To Go Bruins’ Way?

On Tuesday night, the Bruins saw almost the same offsides review that burned them in a 5-4 loss against the Canadiens in Montreal November 5, went their way on a Charlie Coyle goal that put them up 1-0 on the Canucks in the first period Tuesday. On Wednesday, with the score tied at one, Torey Krug was called for tripping Olli Maatta, and on the delayed call, Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula appeared to have put the Hawks up 2-1 with 1:05 left in regulation but Maatta was called for a hand pass. 

 

The Bruins would kill the ensuing Chicago powerplay off and 24 seconds later, McAvoy won it. The Hockey Gods are smiling on the Bruins right now and they’re capitalizing. 

Bruins Sweep Another Back-To-Back

While the Bruins have certainly looked refreshed out of their break, winning four straight games, they haven’t had it easy. They returned to a back-to-back at Winnipeg Saturday and at Minnesota Saturday, and then hosted the Canucks Tuesday before traveling back west to the Central Division to play the Blackhawks in Chicago Wednesday night. Amazingly they won all four but the back-to-back stretch isn’t over as they will play their third set this weekend hosting the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon and then playing the Red Wings in Detroit in a Sunday matinee.

Bruins Overcome Another Goalie In The Zone

On Tuesday, the Bruins ran into a goalie determined to do all he could to propel his team to win as Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom made 38 saves. The Bruins stayed patient and focused and cracked Markstrom late in each period to get the win. On Wednesday in Chicago, Robin Lehner looked almost identical to Markstrom, making 38 saves as well and gave his team every chance to win. As Coyle said after the win Tuesday, it’s about keeping it simple and sticking to the gameplan. 

“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.”

With 20 years of experience (SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, ESPNBoston, NESN, NHL.com, etc.) covering the Bruins, the NHL, NCAA and junior hockey and more, Jimmy Murphy’s hockey black book is full of Hall of Famers, current players, coaches, management, scouts and a wide array of hockey media personalities that have lived in and around this great game. For 17 of his 20 years as a hockey and sports reporter, Murph covered the Bruins on essentially a daily basis covering their victorious 2011 Stanley Cup run and their 2013 run to the Final as well. Murphy has hosted national and local radio shows and podcasts and also has experience in TV as well.

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