Is it just me or is the sun shining a little brighter this morning? My Bloody Mary seems to have a little more zing to it too. I’ll credit that to the Boston Bruins hockey team picking up a yuuuge 4-1 must-win over the Los Angeles Kings last night (or this morning, depending on your time zone).
Thanks to the worst scheduling department in all of professional sports NHL teams have to endure what feels like endless and relentless back-to-back’s. And the second game is always the killer. They’re the gallows for backup goalies. They’re the place legs go to die in the third period. But not last night. Last night the Bruins showed up, executed, and got out of Hollywood land with a nice 2 points in regulation.
Here are my top hits from last nights tilt:
- Anton Khudobin‘s performance might have saved his job. He was a bit skittish early, and like Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier the night before, benefitted from a few timely clangs off the post. But Dobby cleaned it up as the game went on. In fact, after the Bruins took the lead early in the second period Khudobin threw on his cape and came to the rescue. For a 12 minute mid game stretch he slammed the door in the Kings face and bought the B’s enough time to wake up for the third.
- Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak (GWG) scored the two Bruins goals before the empty net show began, keeping them tied for the team lead with 26 goals each. The streaky sniper tandem are on a roll (Marchy: 16pts in 11 games, Pasta: 16pts in 12 games) and now having them on separate lines makes for more difficult match-up decisions for opposing coaches.
- Ryan Spooner‘s patience to set up Pasta’s power play goal was key. I was actually surprised the Kings weren’t more aggressive on the play, instead opting for the “one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi” defensive approach. It allowed Spoons to freely take his time to set up the one-timer seam pass. Speaking of the power play…
- The Bruins went 1-for-1 with the man advantage. The night before they went 0-for-5. And in the words of Forest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.”
- David Krejci has found his game. His defensive play, highlighted by his shut down back checking with under two minutes to go to, has been fantastic. And the way he’s setting up his liney’s with perfect passes is pure hockey porn. I know there’s this inkling that Krejci packed it in on Claude, but whatever he’s doing now to get his game back needs to continue.
- Kings defenseman Kevin Gravel scored his first NHL goal. No matter what team you like you have to acknowledge that. Good for him. I can’t imagine how that feels.
- L.A. had 1 shot in the first half of the 3rd period, 3 total in the final frame. Pretty wild stat for a Kings teams desperately needing points to stay in the playoff hunt. After the Bruins struggled just to stay at par on the back nine of the second period, they came out sharp in the third. The defensive and neutral zone structure was great. The decisions and execution were on point. And the Bruins also protected the front of the net much better than they did against Anaheim. As I wrote yesterday, the self inflicted wounds that killed a B’s win against the Ducks were 100% correctable and within their control. For the most part they fixed them last night.
- Peter Cehlarik returned to form. The kid is going to have more eyes on him than usual just because of his hot start. But he was better last night after a downer on Wednesday. He looked much faster and managed the puck far better. Unfortunately for Cehlarik, that wonderful offside challenge rule denied him his first NHL goal. Here it is:
- Kings tendy Peter Budaj had a case of the yips. He seemed to be fighting the puck a lot and it just felt like if Cehlarik’s goal hadn’t been overturned upon review that the flood gates were close to giving way. David Krejci nearly had a back breaker as well in the final seconds of the second period, missing a one-timer feed from David Backes by inches. Budaj may have more shutouts (7) this year than he’s had in the last six seasons (6) combined, but it seems he may be mortal after all.
The Bruins have today off before they wrap up the current 4-game road trip tomorrow in Dallas against the Stars (12:30pm EST). I highly suggest they hit up an Applebee’s while they’re in the Big D to enjoy a real Texas steak. Pretty sure they get free dessert too if they wear their jersey’s.
Follow us on Twitter @BostonPucks and let’s talk hockey.