The Boston Bruins tried to tell everybody to chill and not take the round-robin so seriously and on Wednesday they showed their critics why they should never doubt them. Patrice Bergeron scored 1:13 into the second overtime to give the Bruins a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of their first round Stanley Cup Playoffs series.
Bergeron and linemate David Pastrnak each had a goal and an assist and centers Charlie Coyle and David Krejci also scored for the Bruins. Bruins wingers Ondrej Kase and Brad Marchand each had an assist, as did defenseman Charlie McAvoy. Tuukka Rask made 25 saves, including 11 of 12 in the third period and seven in 21:13 of overtime play.
Here’s your first BHN Five Takeaways of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs!
Bruins Silenced Critics Again
Since they stepped off the ice following a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon that brought their final round-robin record to 0-3 and heading into this game, the Bruins intensity level and play was in question. Media and Bruins fans alike couldn’t understand why the Bruins were simply treating the round-robin like the ‘preseason’ as Marchand adamantly described it on Monday. Yours truly even posed the question of whether the Bruins were being arrogant or smart with their approach to the round-robin?
“I don’t think we pay too much attention to the outside noise and what other people think of what the outcomes are going to be,” Coyle said following the win. “They’re not the ones playing. We’re going to control what we can control and that’s inside our locker room, what we’ve got on that ice there. We’ll just take it one day at a time and we have great leadership that leads the way and keep our mindset right going into each game. We win that first one which is huge but it’s just one and we still have a long series ahead, so we’ll be prepared for that.”
Well, the Bruins may not have admitted it after the game, but it had to feel good to know they were right again and that their game was and now is in a much better place than many thought.
‘Perfection Line’ Reintroduces Themselves
After just one point – a Bergeron assist – in three round-robin games, the Bruins top line once again looked as close to perfect as a trio of forwards could be. They amassed five points and totaled six shots on Hurricanes goalie Peter Mrazek. There was clearly an extra level in their game that hasn’t been present since they skated off the ice in Philadelphia back on March 10 before the season paused on March 12. As head coach Bruce Cassidy pointed out, there wasn’t any sense of relief amongst him and the team that arguably the league’s best line, finally showed up. It was always just a matter of getting to the playoffs.
“Relief is not the right word in my estimation. These guys are battle-tested,” Cassidy said. “Certainly Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Marchy [Brad Marchand], Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been through it – not as much as those guys. We’ve got a lot of trust in those guys. We have discussions. Where is your game at? And don’t forget that Pasta missed what a lot of teams when through – the training camp. Even though they’ve played together for a long time, it’s been four months and change. Now you’re coming into a part of the season that is high stakes.
We knew there would be a little bit of – I don’t know if rust is the right word. We would take some time for them to make some little plays. And overtime is them. The faceoff play was them. They missed a little bit of that in the round-robin. Tonight, they know that there is a little more at stake as well. Put those two things together, those two factors together and we knew they’d be there and competing. And competing at a high level. And when they do that, they’re so talented and smart that they know things are going to happen for them and they did.”
Forward Depth On Full Display
Take a good look at the Bruins forward lines that played Wednesday because if they can play to their potential, that is arguably the deepest playoff team up the middle and one of the deepest overall. Three of the four Bruins centers lit the lamp and not surprisingly their best scoring winger had the other goal. Cassidy was able to roll four lines and while his top nine brought wave after wave of offense, his grind line of Joakim Nordstrom-Sean Kuraly-Chris Wagner shut down the Hurricanes’ offense at key moments throughout regulation and the overtime session.
Bruins lines vs Canes:
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Kase
Ritchie – Coyle – Bjork
Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Lauzon
— BOSHockeyNow (@BOSHockeyNow) August 12, 2020
Bruins Second Line Becoming A Reality
One line that will be key for the Bruins’ success and one that Cassidy has been waiting a while for to come together is the second line of Jake DeBrusk-Krejci-Ondrej Kase. Krejci had a goal and Kase got the helper on it. Meanwhile, DeBrusk had some hard luck hitting the post twice and missing an empty net but he was creating his own scoring chances more.
“I’m going to guess it’s going to be a high-end game for them tonight, the way – if they can do that every night, we’re going to be a very dangerous hockey club,” Cassidy said following the game. “Some nights, I think the puck follows you. You work for it and you get it back. Other nights you work your butt off and it doesn’t seem to bounce your way or find it, you have to stick with it.
Tonight, I thought Jake from the first shift on, second effort, Krech was going. Good in the circle. Solid, solid with the puck and away from the puck to get it back. That’s the formula we’d like, I’m not going to lie to you. I’d love to replicate that every night with those guys. Like I said, Kase took a few hits and he bounced back. Really what I liked was the second effort on the pucks. That makes any team hard to play against. That’s what happened with that line tonight. And they were – I guess if you ask Carolina, they were hard to play against.”
McAvoy Getting Offensive
While his five giveaways could be considered a concern, it was quite clear that McAvoy was trying to generate more offense. Besides assisting on Krejci’s goal :59 ticks into the final frame, McAvoy had five shots on net in a concerted effort to take the shot when it was there. McAvoy led all Bruins playing 33:45 and 46 shifts.