The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers traded 4-0 wins this week, with the Bruins grabbing the first W on Thursday night and the Rangers answering back on Saturday afternoon. Both teams will leave the set with 2 points and the same goal differential they had before they engaged in battle at the TD Garden. For the Rangers, coming away with at least 2 points from their trip to Boston was vital, as they are trying to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, and they will head back to New York within 7 points of a playoff spot now. Boston on the other hand, is hanging onto the number 4 spot in the standings by a mere 3 points. 2 wins over the Rangers could have not only boosted them up in the standings, but also put the Rangers in a deep hole even though we’re only about halfway through the season.
Thursday night was a good night for Bruins, especially for second liners David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk who both buried goals in the second period. Krejci had been snakebitten for the entire season up until Thursday night when he finally broke his streak of goalless games by beating Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev with a slapshot from the point on the power play. Krejci is not typically known for his goal scoring, as he is definitely a playmaker first and a goal scorer second, but to see him go this far into the season without lighting the lamp isn’t typical. He has still found ways to be productive throughout his drought though, as he now has 12 assists on the season.
His frequent linemate Jake DeBrusk has been equally dry in the goal scoring column, as he entered Thursday night with just one goal in his last 17 games. DeBrusk however, hasn’t been nearly as valuable as Krejci throughout his slump, only being able to muster up four assists and a -3 plus/minus rating on the ice. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has even resorted to making DeBrusk a healthy scratch in games this season because his production simply hasn’t been there. Hopefully his goal on Thursday was a turning point for him, as the Bruins desperately need him and Krejci to return to their usual forms and help the offense, which has been relatively subpar as of late.
Saturday afternoon would not prove to be as good a day for the Bruins as their Thursday night was. The Bruins were suffocated by the Rangers defense all afternoon and were held to their lowest shot total in a game all season, with just 18 shots. It was disappointing to see the offense be so quiet after having a good showing the game before. The forwards have been inconsistent as of late, along with the defense. In games like Thursday night when the Bruins are able to shutdown teams, it is their overall team defense that does it, not just their defensemen. In games like Saturday afternoon, it becomes evident that the forwards and defensemen are not on the same page. There were far too many turnovers in front of Jaro Halak that resulted in high quality scoring chances for the Rangers.
As we approach the midway point of the season, the Bruins’ clear needs are depth scoring (just like every other year) and another defenseman who can slide into the lineup as a top 6 defender. Injuries are plaguing the defense, while the bottom 6 forwards can’t provide the scoring the B’s need after the top line. Don’t be surprised to see the Bruins front office get very busy in the coming weeks.
The Bruins will play two very important games against the Pittsburgh Penguins coming up this week. The Pens currently sit one spot ahead of the Bruins in the standings, so getting 4 points would go a long way for the Bruins in terms of moving back up to the top of the division. The Bruins beat the Penguins twice back in January, so expect to see a Pittsburgh team hungry for revenge and incentivized to play for a more comfortable lead in the standings.
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