After beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 in Boston Saturday afternoon, the Boston Bruins extended their win streak to three games with a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden Sunday afternoon.
Charlie McAvoy, Charlie Coyle and Patrice Bergeron all scored their second goal in as many games and Jaro Halak made 25 saves for the Bruins in his first start since February 5 in a 2-1 overtime win over the Blackhawks in Chicago. Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad scored the lone goal for the Rangers and Alexandar Georgiev made 31 saves for the Blueshirts.
Here’s your BHN Five Takeaways after the Bruins completed their third sweep of a back-to-back since returning from their break on January 31:
Penalty Kill Was The Difference
The Bruins allowed a powerplay goal Sunday when Artemi Panarin found Zibanejad on the man advantage 9:52 into the third period to cut the Bruins’ lead to 2-1 but if not for the Bruins’ tenacious penalty kill, they likely don’t win this game. The Bruins killed off a double-minor high-sticking call on David Krejci 5:06 into the second period and then later in the period, Coyle broke in alone on the kill and beat Georgiev for the Bruins second shorthanded goal in two games. The Bruins killed four of five Rangers’ powerplays and it was clear the frustration got to the Rangers.
“The PK was outstanding,” Cassidy said. They seemed to be on it all night so that taxes your team a little bit but we did a good job with our clears and had fresh legs out there. On a back-to-back, you always want to make sure you stay in the game early on, try to be on your toes as much as possible but I thought the first period we were very good. We didn’t allow much. They had their push and in the past, some of the time we’ve broke down on that in some cases but I thought we weathered it really well, got the save from Jaro in the slot there, the big one we needed, and from there, I thought we were pretty good.”
Thankfully, and especially on the tail end of a back-to-back, Cassidy has an array of forwards to choose from that he can trust on the penalty kill and that luxury was on full display during the four-minute kill early in the second period.
“It is, Cassidy replied when asked if the forward depth is a luxury on the penalty kill. “We need eight guys in that situation up front. You want to use at least four D, maybe six if you have to. But we can do that. Guys are ready for it, they’ve practiced on it with injuries, so for us, that’s never a concern. When you lose your faceoff guys, that’s where it becomes an issue, if ‘Bergy’s’ in the box or Kuraly, that’s your righty and lefty side, guys like that but tonight it was mostly D I think in the box.”
Coyle Keeps Driving The Line And The Net
As mentioned above, Coyle now has two goals in his last two games and he also has four in his last five. Following his team’s 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes, in which Coyle lit the lamp twice, Cassidy told the media how impressed he was with the way Coyle was making his line click and succeed.
“I have to tell you, he’s really driving that line,” Cassidy said February 8. “Tonight, I thought he was exceptional with the puck.”
Well Coyle continues to be a driving force on the Bruins third line, which in the last three games has had Anders Bjork on the left wing and Danton Heinen on the right, and is just another headache for opponents to deal with after they try and stop the team’s top two centers, Bergeron and Krejci. One could easily argue that the Bruins have the strongest 1-2-3 punch up the middle in the NHL. Coyle’s 6-foot-3, 222-pound frame and insane possession skills present a formidable task for a team’s third line center trying to shut him down. Obviously, as his shorty on Sunday showed, he’s a weapon on the penalty kill as well.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 16, 2020
McAvoy Suddenly Streaking
McAvoy went 55 games without lighting the lamp and now he has three goals in his last six games and has lit the lamp in two straight games. McAvoy got credited for the Bruins’ first goal after the scoring officials originally gave the goal to forward Chris Wagner. The puck took a crazy bounce in front after McAvoy shot it in from the point and even McAvoy was surprised to learn he scored his third goal of the season 19:18 into the opening frame.
“I’ll take a bounce,” a smiling McAvoy told the media. “It was nice to see that one go in and I thought it was ‘Wags’ goal 100 percent. He did a good job and went to the hard area and I tried to shoot for his stick. We were lucky enough to get a bounce in and that was a big goal for us to get on the board first.”
McAvoy now has two goals and two assists in the five games since he got the monkey off his back and scored his first goal in 55 games on February 5. However, as Cassidy pointed out, that monkey wasn’t as nagging as some thought because McAvoy, who has 21 helpers this season has continued to mature on and off the ice this season.
“A little but I don’t think it bothered him, I really don’t,” Cassidy said when asked if McAvoy seemed to have a weight off his shoulders after the game. “I know he wanted to score. He considers himself – and rightfully so – a two-way guy that can contribute offense but he’s still making lots of plays, matched up every night against teams’ best players. I think that deep down he didn’t want a zero column for long but he went out there every night and did what was asked and continues to. So, good maturity for a kid his age not to let those things bother him.”
Bergeron Getting Hot
As if Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak aren’t enough to contain for opposing teams, they also have to deal with Bergeron, arguably the best two-way player in the game. Well, don’t look now but Bergeron is getting hot. His empty-netter with 13 ticks left in regulation sealed the deal for the Bruins and gave him three goals in his last four games. He also has three assists during that span. Bergeron has 26 goals and 24 assists in 50 games this season.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 16, 2020
Bruins Were In On Coleman
As I reported during the game, the Bruins were one of four teams in on winger Blake Coleman before the New Jersey Devils traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning for prospect Nolan Foote and Vancouver’s 2020 first round pick. The Avalanche and Oilers also pursued Coleman and a report actually went out on social media that the Av’s had acquired Coleman but the Devils denied it promptly. The 28-year-old winger has 21 goals in 57 games this season and has one year left on a three-year contract that carries a $1.8 million cap hit.