Boston Bruins stay red hot and extinguish Flames at home

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 13: Riley Nash
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 13: Riley Nash /

Before departing on a tour of Western Canada, the Boston Bruins welcomed one of the NHL’s best lines to the TD Garden.  But could the Bruins stay red hot against the Flames?

When it comes to the best line in hockey, I would argue tonight’s game featured 2 of the top contenders for the title.  For the Boston Bruins, that is obviously the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak line.  For the visiting Calgary Flames, it would be the Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Micheal Ferland trio.  How did each top line fare tonight?

First period

The Bruins have had a habit recently of allowing the first goal in games and having to battle back.  They decided not to do that in this one.  Riley Nash was the benefactor of a great heads-up play by defenseman Matt Grzelcyk.  The rookie blueliner pinched into the zone with no hesitation, which put the puck behind the net on David Backes‘ stick.  Backes force-fed a pass to Nash in front of the net, who buried it 28 seconds into the game for a quick 1-0 Bruins lead.

The Flames were undeterred, as they brought their skating legs to the TD Garden.  An aggressive forecheck and a misplay by Grzelcyk behind his own net led to the puck ending up on Sam Bennett’s stick right in front of Tuukka Rask.  Bennett didn’t miss the opportunity, and the teams were knotted up at 1.

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The 1st period started to get a bit chippy, as players were being extremely physical along the boards.  There were several skirmishes after the whistle, with Backes having his nose in the fray quite frequently.  Unfortunately for the Bruins, the Flames used the momentum of the goal and the physicality to their advantage.

Johnny Gaudreau (or Johnny Hockey as he is known), one of the best players in the league, was left wide open at the backside post.  After a rebound found its way to him, all he had to do was tuck it in passed Rask.  All of sudden, the Flames had a 2-1 lead, and the air was slowly coming out of the Garden.

Second period

After Gaudreau’s goal, the game stayed physical, but the Bruins were doing everything they could to try to score.  They were throwing everything on the net, including having a 5 shot-on-goal power play, almost unheard of for the Bs.  The Bruins at one point were outshooting the Flames 21-6 after the Gaudreau goal.

Not much happened seemed to be happening during the second period, but the Bruins were controlling play overall, and that effort would eventually be rewarded.  That “not much happening” all changed 16:20 into the period, courtesy of offensive dynamo Riley Nash.

Nash must have decided at some point that he wanted to show the organization that there’s only room for one R. Nash on the Bruins.  Nash scored his second goal of the night, assisted by Tim Schaller and Charlie McAvoy, after an amazing McAvoy toe-drag in the high-slot.  This was Nash’s 10th goal of the season, which ties a career high for him with 27 games left in the season.

Third period

The Bruins started the final frame on the penalty kill, and came out of the gates flying.  Marchand and Bergeron combined for a shorthanded bid that came up a bit short.  However, the BEST line in hockey couldn’t contained for long.

The Bruins found themselves on the power play a few minutes into the period.  On a set play through the neutral zone, Bergeron took a tape-to-tape feed from blueline to blueline from Torey Krug.  Bergeron walked in with Marchand on his left, but decided he would take care of things on his own, and roofed it blocker side.  For the first time since early in the first period, the Bruins were on top.

The Bergeron-Marchand duo were not finished in the least.  Wanna talk typical Bergeron goal?  After blocking a shot in the defensive zone and skating the puck up the ice, Bergeron camped himself in front of the Flames net, and tipped home a Marchand wrist shot.  The ultimate 200 foot player doing MVP caliber things.  And with that goal, the Bruins had a 4-2 lead.

The 40 year old captain then decided he wanted to get in on the scoring action.  With several minutes left, the Flames pulled the goalie, and Zdeno Chara fired the puck from his own red-line after collecting it behind the net.  The puck sailed nearly dead center into the net, giving the Bruins the 5-2 victory.

Takeaways from the game

It is seriously time for Patrice Bergeron to be considered a Hart Trophy candidate, not just a Selke Trophy shoo-in.  What player is more valuable to his team than Bergeron?  Take Sidney Crosby off the Penguins, they still have Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin and will do just fine.  Take Nikita Kucherov or Steven Stamkos off the Lightning, they’d be okay.  Take Bergeron off the Bruins?  I shudder at the thought.  Unfortunately, Bergeron is the ultimate team player and doesn’t put up 100 points a season, so he won’t be considered by many.

After the Bruins defense spent most of the first half of the first period watching the game, they absolutely turned it around and locked down the Flames going forward.  The Bs outshot the Flames 16-8 in the second period, and the Flames weren’t gifted any odd-man rushes or breakaways like in previous games.  When Rask can see the puck on shots from the outside, he’s one of the best goalies out there.

Next: Boston Bruins: Curse of the President's Trophy

I’m not sure what was going on with David Pastrnak right now, but he had a season low amount of ice-time tonight at 12:02.  He has averaged 17:54 this season, but only played 13:42 against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.  He could be banged up a bit, having played in all 55 games this season, or could be in Bruce Cassidy’s doghouse for some reason.  I would imagine the former, if anything, because I’ve seen nothing to justify Pastrnak losing ice time.