Boston Bruins: Tenacity, Commitment, and a Solid 5-2 win over Detroit.


Dec 29, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; The Boston Bruins surround Boston Bruins goalie

Tuukka Rask

(40) after defeating the Detroit Red Wings 5-2 at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins genuinely surprised a lot of hockey fans with their play last night. The Bruins were fielding four AHL players (three if you want to count Jordan Caron as a Boston Bruin) on their squad. They were without the services of one of the strongest players (Milan Lucic), and the B’s overall best technical player (Patrice Bergeron).  The team had had some sort of private meeting where they had made a commitment to themselves and to each other. I have no idea what was said, but the team was going to need to have an amazing game to beat the Detroit Red Wings.

The odds at first glance did not favor the B’s. The lines were totally jumbled, almost to the point of making no sense. Caron with the Merlot Men (credit to Shawn Thornton for calling Caron ‘Maroon’ last season).  David Krejci was the top line center with Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith. Chris Kelly was back with the Swedes as part of the new second line. This left the fourth line being an entirely AHL affair. Craig Cunningham was centering a line backed up Seth Griffith and Matt Lindblad.

The defensive pairs looked somewhat more familiar and comfortable. Big Z and Dougie. Matt Bartkowski (who was the best defenseman on the ice during the Columbus debacle) paired with Dennis Seidenberg. Finally, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller were back together. As long as the blueliners held up, it was hoped they could keep the game close.

“Yeah, commitment. That’s the area [that needs the most improvement],” Julien said. “I think commitment. There’s a couple things. We need to be a little bit harder, we need to be more committed and just do the things that we need to do to win hockey games. It’s not so much one area where we’re weak, it’s just our game as a whole needs a little bit more. We need to be hungrier and a little bit harder.”- Bruins Coach Claude Julien before the game

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  • A lot of people were hoping for the best, but had mentally prepared themselves for the worst. If you were on Twitter last night, you know there was a lot of doubt and gloom having over the Bruins social media.

    Then the Black and Gold took the ice. They played with a precision that we haven’t seen in a while. Sure, the Bruins could come out firing on all cylinders early, but usually they’d start to fade (especially during the second period). There was none of that last night. Dougie Hamilton did his job acting as a fourth forward on the Bruins first goal. He got the puck to Smith and his shot gave the Bruins and early 1-0 lead.  The Red Wings tied it up a little after halfway through the first when Justin Abdelkader broke the laws of physics to get a wobbly puck glove side high over Tuukka Rask.

    This was the moment for the Bruins. In other games, the B’s would start to falter. This time, they did what they said they were going to do. They crashed the net. Actually, they invaded it. They all but tore off Jimmy Howard‘s jersey. They kept up a steady level of heavy pressure, and the Bruins put the Red Wings hard on the defensive. Gregory Campbell‘s goal was created by the team hammering relentlessly. Krug had two swings on it. Carl Soderberg had been knocked to the ice in the puck battle, losing his helmet in the process. Six Bruins made a concerted effort to get a point, and the team was not to be denied.

    Then the B’s did it again. Loui Eriksson fought hard against Reilly’s brother, Brendan Smith. He got the puck to Carl Soderberg who got the puck past three Red Wings and Howard to give the B’s a 3-1 lead. The Bruins were playing with a commitment level that earned the adoration of the crowd at the TD Garden. The Bruins have had trouble putting up three goals in a game, and here they had done it in a single period.

    The refs haven’t been very kind to the Black and Gold this year. They’ve had a goal (and occasionally two) taken away from them. When Tomas Tatar got the shot off the end of his stick that bounced off Rask and into the crease, we just assumed that the team in Toronto would give this one to Detroit. When the refs made the right call, there were a lot of pleasantly surprised Bruins fans. This was one bad goal that wasn’t going to count against us.

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    The second period did not see the all too familiar Bruins collapse. They remained poised. They held their ground, and had very few defensive breakdowns. The Bruins even held near even with the Wings on shots on goal, the Wings barely edged the B’s 12-11. The Red Wings only got in a single goal, and it was one that Rask thought he should have had.  At the end, the B’s still held a 3-2 lead.

    The third period was an all Boston affair. They won the battles, and they won all the races(The only place they didn’t do so hot in was the face-off circle.).  Chris Cunningham showed the Wings that even the Providence Bruins were ready to play. Cunningham’s tally gave the two-goal lead back to Boston.  The pressure continued. The Wings had no choice but to pull Howard in order to try and save the game. It didn’t matter. The Soderberg line played with gusto, and thanks to the efforts of Soderberg, Chris Kelly was able to get a goal to make it 5-2, and that’s how the game ended.

    The Bruins played with the most heart I’ve seen all season. The Soderberg line ended up with seven points last night. Carl Soderberg certainly earned his first star honors. The team as a whole put in a season best forty-five shots on a very beleaguered Jimmy Howard. They played to their strengths and used their talents to minimize their deficiencies.

    This win was a statement. Had the Bruins failed to get the job done last night, there would have been serious talk about keeping the team as is. Claude Julien‘s job would have been in jeopardy. Peter Chiarelli wouldn’t have been safe either. While the season still has three and a half months left to go, the team may have finally cleared the funk out of their skulls. They took a diminished squad and handed a severe drubbing to one of the better teams in the NHL.

    “Yeah, I think it was pretty obvious tonight that there was a bigger determination and commitment to working hard from start to finish for that matter,” said Julien after the game. “So this is one of hopefully many, and we need to understand that this is how we have to play and be successful.”