To say we didn’t see that coming would be a lie. All day we pumped the Bruins and sincerely felt that if they tweaked a few things we’d get a great game out of them. And we did. A 6-2 pump show of the Colorado Avalanche in their own barn. Not to mention there were six different goal scorers tonight. Goaltending was sharp, depth players carried the team, and they didn’t have the usual breakdowns that really hurt them the first three games. This wasn’t the team we saw flashes of this past week that would eventually shoot themselves in the foot. Tonight, they buckled down and got it done. Here are our 3 thoughts from the game tonight:
1) The Third Line Showed Up
The third line broke out in a big way. Jimmy Hayes recorded 4 points (1 goal, 3 assist), Ryan Spooner 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist) and Chris Kelly added a goal. They were buzzing around and all over the Avalanche. I am not sure what you do when Brad Marchand comes back from his concussion because I like Chris Kelly on this line. He takes off some of the defensive pressure from Ryan Spooner. I do not see moving Brett Connolly to the 4th line as an option. Although he has not scored a goal yet, I like how he is moving and carrying the puck. I feel once he breaks the ice they will start coming more consistently. Maybe Claude would have to try Loui on his natural left wing on the 3rd line with Spooner and Hayes. If they keep this going it’s not a bad problem to have.
2) Tommy Cross Was Solid
Tommy Cross made his NHL debut tonight and did not look out of place. I am not saying he is a keeper, but he might be the safer depth play at this point in the Bruins’ season. He has shown to be more responsible with the puck and does not take the risk that some of the younger defenseman have. I do not see him coming out of the lineup when Joe Morrow is healthy. Although this was Cross’s 1st NHL game he is not inexperienced professionally 26 years old as he has already spent 4 seasons in the minor leagues. Joe Morrow has a higher ceiling, but right now the Bruins need to get some wins and Tommt Cross has the simple defensive game to help steady the ship.
3) Gustavsson, A Breath Of Fresh Air
The Bruins have a backup goalie! Yes, they do! Jonas Gustavsson was great tonight and was exactly what the Bruins lacked last year. He stopped 20 of 22 shots for a .909 save percentage. Solid work. You can’t ask for much more than that from your backup. In particular, early on in the game the Bruins went on the penalty kill, with their best killer in Chara being the one sent to the box, and he made some great saves during that sequence and throughout the first 5-6 minutes. He even had a nice breakaway stop. His rebound control was excellent and he stopped what he had to. It was real nice to see and huge confidence boost for not only Gustavsson himself but the guys in front of him going forward.
***Extra: Tyler Randell scored his first NHL goal tonight as well. Since preseason he continues to make it hard for Claude not to dress him. Like Tommy Cross, he makes smart, simple decisions and is a strong physical player. He showed great scoring touch by angling his stick blade perfectly to tip in his goal. As stated earlier, the bottom-6 forward competition is a nice problem to have, and something the Bruins have lacked for awhile now. Here’s a clip of Randell’s 1st NHL goal: