Earlier today we gave a breakdown of the Bruins win tonight before it actually happened. The ironic thing about it is even though we felt this was a game the Bruins would win based off of the hockey they’ve been playing compared to Tampa’s 5 game losing streak, the points we made actually didn’t happen at all. Tampa forward Tyler Johnson did end up playing but didn’t stand out. Krejci and Pastrnak didn’t take advantage of any match ups. And Tuukka wanting a second crack at Tampa after a bad showing against them on October 12th didn’t happen. But it didn’t matter. They got the 2 points and jumped into the second place in the Atlantic Division. After a bit of an expected slow start after playing last night the Bruins played what we’ve come to know as Bruins hockey. Hard, tight defense, with smart plays and never giving up an inch of the the 60 minutes frame. Here are our 3 thoughts from tonight’s 3-1 victory:
1) Brett Connolly’s Goal Must Have Felt Amazing
With 14 minutes to play the Bruins had a 5-on-3 power play play opportunity. They set up in the ‘box and 1’ formation with Connolly and Brad Marchand playing the low post positions. Marchand picked up a nice pass and fed Connolly on the back door which he buried. What a moment for Connolly. Last spring the Lightning had shipped out Connolly to Boston deeming his 6th overall draft pick talent not quite enough for them. He just didn’t fit their plans. Thank you, Tampa. Tonight’s goal gave Connolly his 4th in 5 games. He now has more goals this year than Tampa Bay’s Kucherov, Drouin, and Johnson combined. He’s really fit in perfectly on that second line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and his 1st round pedigree scoring finish is still all there.
2) Gustavsson Continues To Be The Back Up They Coveted
21 saves, 1 goal allowed (on the power play), and a 0.955 save percentage tonight. What a game for Gustavsson. Last year there was no such thing as a back up goalie for Boston. It was a borderline lock to be loss when the B’s took the ice with Niklas Svedberg or Malcolm Subban in net. The Bruins seasoned vet in Jonas Gustavsson has done nothing but win since given the opportunity to back up Rask. The confidence is there not only from Gustavsson but the players don’t look any different in front of him than when Vezina winner Rask is in net. This is a such a huge part of their roster that has been addressed and it’s a great thing to see.
3) Matt Beleskey Needed That Goal
There’s a lot of pressure on Matt Beleskey. He has to be feeling it. He started off as “Lucic’s replacement” on the top line and it didn’t gel as everyone would have liked. Fast forward a few injuries and weeks later and Beleskey looks great on his new line. Yes, they need more points out of him but his motor constantly runs and tonight was his best game as a Bruin so far. And his goal tonight was pure working your bag off. He battled, got the loose puck, didn’t give up, and got it on net. That tying goal in the first had to help ease Beleskey.
- We received a lot of grief for saying this team would score more goals this year, but it seemed obvious looking at the new roster in August that they were built far more balanced and could score in waves. It’s happening. The Bruins have the #1 offense in the NHL right now and it’s nice to see them rolling.
- The fight in this team is vastly different than last year. They just don’t stop going. I’m glad the Bruins stuck with the Claude Julien this summer. His style can be frustrating for the casual hockey fan but if he gets the right attitude in his dressing room his framework works. And props to him for adding wrinkles to his style that opened up the offense more. He gave in some areas to get those results but his defense first style hasn’t wavered while trying to get the young defensive core up to speed.