The Boston Bruins are now 2-0 out of the gate from the COVID pause and holiday break after an impressive 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings Sunday at Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit.
The win helped the Bruins (16-10-2, 34 pts) – who still have five games in hand on the Red Wings – leapfrog Detroit (15-15-3, 33 pts), into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Charlie McAvoy and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and an assist, and Patrice Bergeron, Erik Haula, and Trent Frederic all lit the lamp for the B’s in a convincing win that displayed the forward depth Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney invested in this past offseason.
Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi was the only Wing to beat Boston Bruins rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman who made 23 saves in the win.
GOLD STAR: Charlie McAvoy – If McAvoy isn’t in the Norris Trophy discussion by now, I’m not sure what my fellow PHWA voters are watching. The Boston Bruins defenseman had three assists and was a plus 1 in 24:22 TOI in the win over the Sabres Saturday and was a plus 3 with a goal and an assist in 14:10 Sunday. McAvoy now has five goals and 15 assists in 28 games this season and continues to be a backbone not only of the blue line but the entire team for the Bruins.
— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) January 2, 2022
BLACK EYE: David Pastrnak just can’t seem to find the back of the net. Pastrnak had two shots on net Sunday and has now gone 27 shots on goal without lighting the lamp over a nine-game stretch. He has just eight goals in 28 games and hasn’t scored a 5-on-5 goal in 14 consecutive games. Here’s hoping the affable and fun-loving ‘Pasta’ finds the back of the net more consistently soon.
TURNING POINT: The McAvoy and Frederic goals 1:56 apart early in the final frame helped the Boston Bruins seize the momentum and they carried it forward from there. In the last two games, the Bruins seem to be feeding more off each other’s play. Not just when someone scores but even off a strong defensive play or scoring chance, the B’s are building within each shift, period and game so far since coming back from the latest COVID pause and holiday break.
Ready Freddy 🏒 pic.twitter.com/SsFUwSgCb3
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 2, 2022
HONORABLE MENTION: As mentioned above, the line changes Cassidy decided to make heading into the win Saturday have paid off but while yours truly has been critical of the offseason Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney had last summer, that forward depth is suddenly paying off. Eight of the last nine goal scorers for the Bruins have been forwards and three, Foligno on Saturday, and Nosek and Haula on Sunday were UFA’s Sweeney signed in the offseason.
When Cassidy put these new forward lines together Friday at practice, I had this to say below and so far. I’m eating some crow!
Even with a healthy team, Bruce Cassidy is still forced to throw darts, as if he's blindfolded, to get his team going.
— MurphysLaw74 (@MurphysLaw74) December 31, 2021
Notable Mention: The penalty kill. Sabres forward Alex Tuch’s powerplay goal 19:11 into the second period Saturday was the sixth straight time the Bruins’ penalty kill had failed to kill off a powerplay. Including a tripping call to Smith 13:27 into the third period Saturday, the Bruins have now killed off five straight powerplays after going 4-for-4 on the PK Sunday.
BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – With Nick Foligno finally lighting the lamp on Saturday and Frederic notching his first goal of the season Sunday, two Boston Bruins have scored their first of the season in each of the last two games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “A little bit of the onus falls on the rest of the group to learn from what they do well; not try to be them but replicate them in certain ways as well. So it’s always a battle. You look around the league and there’s a lot of good number one lines, and the good teams find a way for the rest to fall into place.” – Cassidy on if the line shuffling put an onus on other forwards to pick up the slack the last two games.