Just another nice win from the Boston Bruins tonight. Brad Marchand pumped home two goals, one of them being a nice tip in off a Zdeno Chara shot on the power play. Tuukka Rask was the first star tonight for sure making a few spectacular saves. His biggest came in the first period on a classic stack pad stone wall save on Jonathan Huberdeau. It was nice full 60-minute effort once again from the Bruins. No glaring breakdowns, no major head scratchers, just a good hard fought win with some timely goal scoring. Here are our 3 thoughts on tonight’s win:
1) Tuukka Is Back
It is amazing what a shutout will do for a goalie’s confidence. Tonight was a night and day comparison from Tuukka’s few starts earlier this season. He was much more aggressive in coming out and challenging the shooter. Tuukka made a few spectacular saves tonight, but a lot of times when he is feeling it shots hit him in the chest because he is square to the shooter. Tuukka looked very calm tonight. And his 31 save, 0.969 save percentage stat line from the game proved it. The Bruins will need more of this type of performance from him if they want to have a chance at the playoffs. Tuukka is starting to get on a roll and that only bodes well for the Bruins moving forward through this brutal stretch the next two weeks.
2) Brad Marchand Had A Game
I’m not going to say I was right because it’s not in my nature to do so, so I will just say that prior to the game I tweeted out that if you’re playing DraftKings tonight you needed to have Marchand on your roster. 18 minutes of ice time and 2 timely goals later Brad Marchand was a stand out player tonight. Not bragging or saying I called it, I’m just glad things worked out for him. And when Marchand is scoring it’s because he’s buzzing around the ice creating opportunities for his line mates as well. He was sharp on the powerplay, making a nice effort in the corner to win a loose puck battle and keep possession before tipping in his first goal seconds later. His second goal he showed great patience in out-waiting Roberto Luongo just a bit and burying his against the grain, cross-crease move into the back of the net. But unfortunately it wasn’t all roses for Marchand. With just 2:06 left in regulation he was kicked out of the game for a boarding call. After watching the hit multiple times it doesn’t look like there was any intent there. I really don’t see any suspension coming. But an on the edge Marchand is a good one, playing hard, and hard to defend.
3) Reilly Smith Being Reilly Smith
I don’t want to pile too much on a guy who’s no longer on the Bruins roster but tonight was vintage Reilly Smith. Midway through the 2nd period with the Bruins battling through penalty issues Smith had a prime scoring opportunity to really put the Panthers back in the game. He buried his wide open shot attempt in the slot right into Tuukka Rask’s midsection. A few minutes later Smith showed off his great hands again, got in clean on Rask, and darted him in the chest. That’s what he does best. He’s a great skater, really can handle the puck nicely, but you’re never expecting the finish. Which is why he was sent to Florida this past off-season for Jimmy Hayes. I always liked a lot about Reilly’s game, but that lack of killer finish soured his time in Boston.
- Brett Connolly almost had the goal of the year. He skillfully dangled right around top defenseman Aaron Ekblad, almost too easily, and fired one high that rang off the post stick side. It was silky smooth. See below:
- Zdeno Chara was a beast tonight. 26 minutes of ice time (a full 5 minutes more than any other Bruins defender), and 1 goal, 1 assist. He threw a few bruising hits along the boards and anchored the second power play unit that scored 2 goals. He may be getting up there in age but when healthy he is still what makes that defense go.