The Boston Bruins (36-11-12, 84 points) snapped a five-game losing streak to the Detroit Red Wings (14-42-4, 32 points) with a 4-1 win Saturday at TD Garden. Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Charlie Coyle lit the lamp; Charlie McAvoy had a goal and an assist and Brad Marchand set up two goals for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask extended his home point streak to 22 games (20-0-2) and the Bruins headed out on a four-game roadie that starts Sunday in New York against the Rangers.
Here’s your NHN Five Takeaways from the Bruins eighth win in their last nine games:
Bruins Finally Solve Bernier, Wings
The last time the Bruins beat the Red Wings was October 13, 2018, in an 8-2 romp at TD Garden. Since then, the Wings, despite their record and place in the standings had absolutely dominated the Bruins, beating them five straight times and out-scoring them 20-10 during that span. This season, the Wings beat the Bruins 4-2 on November 8 and then as mentioned above, 3-1 last Sunday. Both games took place in Detroit at Little Caesars Arena. Back in the friendly confines of TD Garden Saturday – where they haven’t lost since January 4 and are now 21-2-9 – they finally solved the Red Wings and more specifically, Bernier.
Heading into this game, Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier was 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .956 save percentage against the Bruins this season. He stonewalled the Bruins with 39 saves last Sunday and appeared to be set to do the same Saturday as he stopped all 19 shots by the Bruins in the opening frame.
To their credit, the Bruins did not get frustrated and stayed the course in the second period.
Their persistence finally paid off when McAvoy intercepted a clearing pass and skated in, up the middle and ripped one by Bernier for his second goal of the season. Just 1:39 later, with David Krejci in the sin-bin for hooking, Marchand came bearing down on Red Wings defenseman Mike Green and picked off Green’s clearing attempt. The pesky Bruins winger fed it out to Bergeron in front and the Bruins were up 2-0 9:40 into the middle frame. Coyle would make it 3-0 2:50 later tipping in a McAvoy shot and Pastrnak sealed the deal 13:03 into the third period of another brilliant play by Marchand.
That persistence and refusal to drift from their gameplan has been noticeable to Coyle since he was traded to the Bruins almost a year ago (February 20, 2019).
“That’s one of the first things I was pretty impressed with when I came over last year was guys are never down,” Coyle said. “It’s always positive in here no matter what happens in the period, we come in, guys talk and say ‘Hey let’s stick with it, keep playing the right way and it’s gonna come for us’ and just have that trust in here in each other and our team as a whole and we find a way. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out but it’s how you come back and stay positive through that and stay within our game. If we bring that compete like we did, we win our battles, everything just flows after that and our game just kind of comes out and the skill shows and that’s the way we gotta play.”
Cassidy’s Honesty Leads To 200 Wins
Not only did the Bruins snap a losing streak to the worst team in the NHL Saturday but they earned their head coach his 200th win in the process. During the 2002-03 to 2003-04 seasons, Bruce Cassidy got his first taste of being a head coach in the NHL. That stint didn’t go so well as he only amassed 47 wins but since being hired by the Bruins back on February 7, 2017, Cassidy is 153-63-34. He’s also led the Bruins to three consecutive playoff appearances, going to the first round his first season, then the second and then last season taking the B’s to within one game of their seventh Stanley Cup. Cassidy had a tall task inheriting the Bruins from the organization’s winningest head coach Claude Julien but he has helped the team transition to a new era primarily through his honesty and making sure he and his players are always on the same page.
“That’s what you want,” Marchand said. “You wanna know the way it is. You don’t want anyone to lie to you and give you false information, and when you know the truth, then you’re able to make changes. It allows you to work towards what he wants you to do. When you don’t know certain things, then how do you expect to play within his guidelines? So, honesty’s good; it’s what you need in this game and it’s worked so far.”
Following the game, Cassidy wasn’t simply proud of the milestone he reached Saturday but more of the transformation he’s made as a coach.
“Not the number itself but I guess it means now you’re starting to accumulate some and starting to establish some consistency in the league and your craft,” Cassidy said. “That’s the positive part of it; the first time go around it didn’t happen that way so I kind of learned a few things and it’s working out OK.”
Marchand Filthy Not Dirty These Days
For a while, Marchand was – and rightfully so, known as one of the ‘dirtiest’ players in the NHL but in the last three to five years, the Bruins winger has slowly curbed the nonsense out of his game and become a legit NHL superstar. His two assists Saturday gave him 50 helpers and he now has 73 points in 59 games. In his last two games though, Marchand’s filthy stickhandling has led to his sweet dishes. On Wednesday, one of his three helpers came from him stickhandling through the Montreal Canadiens defense before dishing it off to Pastrnak for the first goal in a 4-1 Bruins win and on Saturday he did it again prior to feeding Pastrnak for his 42nd of the season.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 15, 2020
Marchand admitted he’s having fun making the video game moves recently.
“It doesn’t happen often but they’re always fun when they do,” Marchand said. “They tend to be against the bottom teams, you don’t really do that against the top teams but it’s always fun when guys make plays and capitalize.”
Mack The Red Light
McAvoy went 55 games without a goal before scoring the overtime winner February 5 in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago and while he’s not lighting it up now by any means, he’s more active offensively and more importantly as Cassidy put it, “finding his groove”.
“He’s really finding his game all around,” Cassidy said. “He was solid at the start of the year. I think he’s cleaner. Breakouts, defending, just his overall game, it just looks like he found his groove now. Good to see him shoot the puck. I know in the back of his mind, he saw Pasta over there and was thinking, should I throw it over there, but he’s done a little more of that lately, and I think the goals are going to start to come for him because he has the puck a lot. So, it’s good. It’s as good as he’s played all year, I think, recently. Maybe that first goal, the monkey off his back, had something to do with it. I don’t know, maybe he can answer that, but he’s sure giving us solid minutes in each end.”
Saturday was the Bruins’ last home game before the February 24 NHL Trade Deadline. There was no shortage of NHL scouts as three Assistant General Managers, one Director of Pro Scouting and nine bird dogs took in the action. Clearly the last-place Red Wings are sellers and the best team in the NHL right now, the Bruins are buyers. Here’s what scouts row looked like Saturday:
Sabres *Steve Greeley, Asst. GM
Preds (2) *Asst GM Jeff Kealty
Rangers *Dir. Pro Scouting Kevin Maxwell
Blues *Asst GM Kevin McDonald