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Nosek On Busted Boston Bruins Slump: ‘Glad It’s Over’

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BOSTON – It would be easy to overlook or discount what Tomas Nosek brings to the table for the Boston Bruins.

Nosek is never going to be a big points guy or somebody that’s going to knock the socks off the fancy stats brigade.

In fact, it was that exact phenomenon that caused some to believe Nosek might be in danger of not making this season’s NHL team out of training camp with younger players like Marc McLaughlin and Jack Studnicka nipping at his heels. Instead, Studnicka was traded to the Vancouver Canucks team that the Bruins played on Sunday night, McLaughlin is in the AHL rounding out his game and Nosek simply keeps making smart, strong veteran plays like the empty net goal that helped ice a 5-2 win for the Black and Gold at TD Garden on Sunday night.

The goal snapped a 65-game scoreless drought and had Nosek gazing up to the iconic Garden rafters in pure exultation in the third period like he was Andy Dufresne finally breaking out of Shawshank State Prison.

“It felt very good, I’m not going to lie,” said Nosek, who scored Jan. 2 of last season against the Detroit Red Wings. “It’s been a long time, but it’s over now. I’m happy and we can keep focused on the games now, not just that feeling of when it’s going to come and when I’m going to score. I’m just glad it’s over and just focusing on the game now.

“I know it’s not my main job to score goals, but it is important, too, to score some goals at least once in a while. Sometimes it was frustrating, but how I said before I just try to keep my head in the game and focus on my game and now it’s over and I’m glad it’s over.”

Nosek’s goal made him the 20th Boston Bruins player to light the lamp for the B’s this season, a testament to their depth and faithfulness to the team concept as they’ve won 14 of their first 16 games for the best start in over 90 years.

“It speaks to our depth. We have a lot of players, and everyone is cheering for each other. No one is worried about what they’re not getting or what they’re missing out on,” said Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery. “It’s everyone’s cheering for each other, and that’s why it’s a special group in there, and, I think, that’s why we’ve had the success that we’ve had. It’s more the attitude than it is the structure and the X’s and O’s.”

Certainly, it was hard for him to focus on much else when Nosek missed a number of Grade-A scoring chances over the last nearly 11 months of futility. It took on a life of its own as media and Bruins fandom alike watched just miss on numerous close chances.

The slump-busting score capped off a huge weekend for Nosek where he contributed mightily to back-to-back wins, setting up the game-winning Jakub Zboril goal on Saturday in Buffalo and coming up one assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick in Sunday’s victory over the Canucks. Earlier in the game Nosek jumped Vancouver defenseman Derek Burroughs after the blueliner had thrown a heavy shoulder hit at David Pastrnak as he was entering the offensive zone.

“[Pastrnak’s] my friend, he’s my teammate, he’s our star,” said Nosek. “That’s what makes us a good team, I think, is when we step up and play for each other – it doesn’t matter who it is. I was there so I did the job.”

Some will cry and caterwaul about it being a clean hit that didn’t require a response, but the Boston Bruins are more concerned with protecting their teammates as they should be operating as a tight-knit hockey team that just keeps winning.

“It’s well deserved,” said Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. “I think [Nosek] has been playing great hockey all year, and to get rewarded like that – I know it was weighing on him a little bit lately, and it’s always nice to get that one behind you and look forward. But just stepping up for his teammate there, it’s something that we all recognize as teammates.”

It was hard to tell that Sunday night’s fisticuffs standing up for No. 88 was actually Nosek’s first NHL fight, but there was no hesitation whatsoever for him.

“Nose has been a key player on this team for [two] years here now,” said Hampus Lindholm. “Every night he brings it, and it was so fun to see him go out there and stand up for Pasta and then also get the goal. It looked like he’d done that a million times.”

Instead, the Hockey gods smiled on the fourth line center after doing the right thing standing up for Boston’s best goal scorer and created a situation where Nosek could jump on a loose puck in Sunday night’s closing minutes. Now everybody can simply focus on Nosek playing a key role on the NHL’s best penalty kill unit, winning faceoffs and doing all of the little things that help the Boston Bruins win hockey games.

That’s exactly the way Nosek would like it after a winning weekend where he made big plays to help the Boston Bruins collect four out of four points.

 

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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