Well, well, well. So much for not being able to beat the Ottawa Senators this season.
The Bruins rolled into Kanata, Ontario last night, fell behind 1-0, played dead the entire second period by not getting a single shot on net, and still managed an impressive 2-1 Game 1 victory over the most boring hockey team on the planet.
Frank Vatrano had a beautiful stick side snipe to tie things up 1-1 just five minutes into the third period. And big game Brad Marchand did what he always does, burying the GWG with just 2:33 remaining in the game.
Tuukka Rask was the games first, second, and third star.
- Tuukka Rask stole Game 1. The Senators were relentlessly pressing early and without his sharp performance it could have been over quickly. But Tuukka slammed the door shut, pointed his guns at the Sens, and said I’m taking this thing and you can’t stop me. He would finish the game with 26 saves on 27 shots and at least a half dozen or more of those stops were game saving highlight quality. I’m sure some mouth breather out there will find a way to rip his performance but it won’t be me. I breathe just fine knowing Rask is the B’s goalie.
- Charlie McAvoy is legit. Sure it’ll take him time to figure out when to pick his spots that showcase his explosive side he possesses but overall his game was fantastic. He had plenty of good reads, great tape to tape passes through the trap, and looked composed from start to finish. His 24:11 of ice time was only second to Zdeno Chara‘s 25:32. And McAvoy is only 19 years old while Chara is a 19-year NHL vet. Oh, and it was McAvoy’s first NHL game. The kids future is so bright the Bruins should continue the #7 Esposito/Bourque jersey ceremony except this time have Charlie take off a #77 jersey, hand it to Ray Bourque, only to reveal a new “McAvoy 777” jersey underneath. He deserves the NHL’s first three-digit sweater.
- Bobby Ryan‘s goal for Ottawa was filthy. Just hard work streaking down the wall. He muscled Adam McQuaid off the puck like he was a child then blew right through Chara like he wasn’t even there. And the baseline fade away finish was a nice touch. I thought Ryan had a real nice game.
- The Bruins power play couldn’t capitalize. And they had enough chances. David Pastrnak rang the post and they maintained some decent zone time as the B’s drew three first period penalties. But there just wasn’t any finish. They ended the game 0-4 with the extra attacker and certainly a first period man advantage tally could have really made life a lot easier for the B’s than it was early on.
- No David Krejci, no Torey Krug, No Brandon Carlo, no problem. Well, not really. Yeah the B’s got the win but with those three out of the lineup it was essentially a Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand-David Pastrnak or bust strategy combined with riding Chara and McAvoy on D. There isn’t enough depth for a plan B. Luckily it worked in Game 1. The top line got the clutch game winner and the horses on defense had enough in the tank at the turn. It’s still going to be hard to count on this formula working long term if a couple of those guys can’t return to the lineup soon. I suspect we’ll see David Krejci play Game 2.
- Of course another day, another injured defenseman. That’s three straight games now where a Bruins blue liner has had to leave the game. First it was Krug, then Carlo, now it’s Colin Miller who took a brutal knee-on-knee hit from Matt Borowiecki. This shit is getting old and needs to stop. The playoff survival rate for teams who have to plug in any functioning warm body on defense can’t be good.
- The Bruins weren’t bad in Game 1, but they weren’t great. And the slow start didn’t help as it fed the Sens momentum through the second period. It wasn’t ugly by any means but it sort of kept the B’s in survival mode for awhile. There just wasn’t the kind of pushback, physicality, or battle you’d like to see from the B’s until it reached crunch time. Again, they got the W they needed but the B’s need to bring it earlier in the game and take a load off of Tuukka. David Backes was one of the few leading the physical charge as the game wore on. Last night would have been the perfect game for Noel Acciari‘s wrecking ball style had he been healthy enough to go.
- This kind of win helps this bunch so much. In his Players Tribune piece yesterday Patrice Bergeron talked about the sense of relief in the Bruins locker room when they clinched a playoff birth last week. A third straight late season collapse would have been crushing. So for the B’s to battle back on the road in Game 1 has to be the empowering moment they’ve have been dying to experience as a team. Now the relieving “we’re happy to be here” feeling should be replaced buy a “let’s fucking do this” feeling. And the 0-fer against Ottawa is over. Little-to-no playoff experience guys like Vatrano, Spooner, Schaller, Pastrnak, Miller, and McAvoy should get a nice confident shot in the arm from this crucial win.
Game 2 will be Saturday @ 3pm back in Ottawa. I’ll be on a plane to headed to Florida at 6pm that evening for yet another vacation so hopefully I can catch most of it. But if Game 2 goes like I think it will then the B’s will be up 3-0 in the first period and I can get my stress free buzz on at the airport bar before we’re even wheels up.
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