The Boston Bruins split their mini two game series against the New York Rangers. There’s not much to say about Friday night’s loss, as the Bruins were outplayed and outworked for pretty much the full game. Bruce Cassidy was definitely hoping for more from his squad after an embarrassing 7-2 loss to the New York Islanders the night before, but he wouldn’t get it until Sunday afternoon. Friday night’s loss exposed flaws in the Bruins defensive game without Kevan Miller, Matt Grzelcyk, or Jeremy Lauzon. John Moore and Connor Clifton have been inconsistent during their time in the lineup, and Urho Vaakanainen looked tentative on the ice.
Along with missing some regular starters, the Bruins effort was not where it needed to be. They left a lot of ice open for the Rangers to skate freely in the offensive zone, and were not blocking shots the way they should. Their showing on Friday revealed just how much they need Miller and Grzelcyk to stay healthy, because they provide stability to a Bruins defense that is lacking in depth after the losses of Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara.
The one silver lining from Friday’s game was Brad Marchand’s 300th career goal, scored in garbage time when they were down 6-1. Although it was meaningless in terms of the game, it’s still a big milestone for a Bruins star, so congrats to Marchy.
The Bruins got the effort they were looking for Friday night in the second game of two against the Rangers on Sunday afternoon. They were able to scrape away a 3-1 victory in a well played, high intensity game that they desperately needed after having dropped four of their last five games. Right off the bat, everyone was skating hard and finishing hits. It was clear they were looking for vengeance against the team that blew them out, and were determined to make up for their poor effort on Friday.
Along with playing physically and skating harder, the Bruins were also blocking shots at a high rate. Urho Vaakanainen alone had four blocks in the first period, which is impressive coming from a young guy who looked inexperienced in his first few games this season. He seemed as if he wanted to prove himself which is a good sign, especially if injuries continue to be a problem for the team.
Charlie Coyle, who has had a relatively disappointing season up to this point, put up two goals in the win. His first goal was a beauty, coming in off the left wing and sliding the puck under the defenders stick before sniping top right corner to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. That icebreaker was important for the Bruins who were in dire need of offense from other players besides the first line. Hopefully Coyle’s performance is a start to a run of games where he scores. Coyle is a guy who puts the puck in the net in bunches, so look for him to get going over the next few games.
The B’s will take on the Washington Capitals this week, in what should be a headline matchup between the top two teams in the East. As of the end of the Bruins game Sunday afternoon, the Bruins and Capitals are tied for first in the division, so it’s safe to say that taking four points from the Caps this week would go a long way in propelling the Bruins to winning the east, and taking a high seed into the playoffs.
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