If the NHL could bottle this game and make it how all games are played, it would give the NFL a run for its money. No matter the outcome of Thursday’s game, it was an outstanding, highly-entertaining game between the Bruins and Penguins.
It finished with an 8-4 victory by the Bruins. The battle between two of the top teams in the East featured everything and the 17,565 in attendance (even those Penguins fans) had to enjoy the on-ice festivities. It did not disappoint in any aspect. This game had anger. It had passion. It had everything.
“Oh my god,” said Tuukka Rask. “Yeah, the first period (5-3 Bruins) I thought we were playing with white pucks there. The only time I saw the puck was when I dug it out of the net. Had some Red Bull in the intermission there and I actually made a couple saves after that.”
It would be a gift from the hockey gods if these teams meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Everything else you need to know from the Bruins’ win in quickie form, with BSJ insight and analysis.
A new man: Since Rick Nash arrived in Boston via trade from the New York Rangers, Bruins centerman David Krejci has been a different player. It’s only been three games with the two on the same line, but Krejci has been engaged and doing things we haven’t seen him do in a while. Oh, and he registered a hat trick, which is his first one since March 3, 2014. It’s the fourth regular-season hat trick for Krejci. All three goals were different, but it was his first one that was outstanding. Nash controlled the puck through the neutral zone, gained entry along the right wall and with a nifty, cross-ice, backhanded saucer pass, he hit Krejci, who crashed the net with reckless abandon and drove the puck past Penguins starting goalie Casey DeSmith.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) March 2, 2018
It’s alive … alive: The Bruins entered tonight’s game 0-for-18 on the power play in the previous six games. Cassidy and staff have been tweaking the PP in hopes it would finally click. Well, it did against the Penguins. Boston finished 3-for-5 on the man-advantage with Nash registering one and Krejci with the other two tallies.
RICK NASH SCORES HIS SECOND GOAL AS A BRUIN! 3-1 BRUINS! pic.twitter.com/UcJ558rojQ
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) March 2, 2018
Cassidy’s been asked a lot about the power play of late.
“This morning. Yesterday morning, the morning before that, the morning before that,” he answered with a laugh. “We executed better and that’s a start. When you make good passes and win pucks, you’re playing in the o-zone and you’re forcing the team to defend. We made some great heads-up plays.”
Hanging tough: Who knows how long Patrice Bergeron will be sidelined with a fractured right foot, but the Bruins are 2-0 so far without his services.
Stand-up guy: Brandon Carlo normally finds himself in the “down” category because of his inconsistent play this season. He was better tonight and his smart play at the offensive blue line in the first period led to David Backes‘ goal that gave Boston a 4-2 lead at 12:49. Carlo didn’t show up on the score sheet, but his willingness to pinch and knock the Penguins’ Riley Sheahan off the puck, allowed the Bruins’ Brian Gionta to collect it and hit Backes with the pass that led to the goal.
DAVID BACKES PICKS TOP CORNER OFF OF BRIAN GIONTA’S 300TH NHL ASSIST! pic.twitter.com/ybFhh9EeGS
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) March 2, 2018
Zdeno Chara: Was an absolute beast. Not only did he register two assists, he logged 3:03 of ice time on one shift during the second period. Not only that, he finished the shift with a fight against the Penguins’ Jamie Oleksiak at 10:50 of the period. It was a heavyweight bout and the Bruins’ captain did well despite being exhausted after the long shift.
Zdeno Chara drops the gloves with Jamie Oleksiak pic.twitter.com/FZDPMraKSB
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) March 2, 2018
“Unbelievable,” Cassidy said. “I talked about that in the locker room, the physical conditioning that guy’s in. And, he played a lot up to that point; it’s not like he’s sitting for half the game. He’s got some energy and good for him. He talked to (Patric) Hornqvist too for that hit on Charlie (McAvoy) as well. He always has passion, but he had a little more tonight.”
Jake DeBrusk: He’s starting to find himself in this category a lot more. He was the only player on Boston’s second line who did not register a goal, but he had his chances and finished with one assist. The addition of Nash also complements DeBrusk’s game too. They play similar styles and the rookie can learn a lot from playing with the veteran.
Brian Gionta: Made his Bruins debut and did not disappoint. He logged 13:39 of ice time and finished with a plus-1. It was impressive to see him working the second power-play unit as the net-front presence. He’s only 5-foot-7 and 178 pounds, but his ability to tip and retrieve pucks is one of his strengths, so Cassidy wasn’t afraid to plant the veteran in front of the net.
“As advertised,” Cassidy said. “Quickstep, had good legs and great in front of the net.”
Tuukka Rask: If the Bruins didn’t score eight goals, the ending could have been a bit different. Rask wasn’t at his best, but Cassidy had no intentions of making a goalie change no matter what was happening.
“No. Zero,” Cassidy said. “Tuukka has to play through some of these games. If he was fatigued, in terms of his workload of late, we would look at (changing goalies) but he had a stretch when everything looked like a beach ball to him, and now there are some goofy ones from odd angles. So, he just has to fight his way through it a little bit and find his game.”
Don’t be concerned about Rask’s last few starts. He’s a product of the defense in front of him and the Bruins have struggled of late as a five-man unit in their zone, so don’t put it all on the goalie. Yes, some of the goals tonight he should have stopped, but he’ll regain his game soon enough.
— Colin Beswick (@CBeswick) March 2, 2018
Sidney Crosby: There were a total of 12 goals in the game but the best player in the world did not register a point.
NOT ON THE SCORE SHEET
Shoot the puck: Torey Krug‘s goal is obviously on the score sheet, but the reason why he decided to shoot is not. Over the last month, he has made it a point to shoot the puck with authority from the point. He found that many of his shots intended for tips were getting blocked and teams were going the other way, so he’s putting more behind it and it has proved crucial. It was important when he scored his 11th goal of the season to give Boston a 5-2 lead against the Penguins. It turned out to be the game-winner.
— Binge Sports (@BingeSports) March 2, 2018
The Bruins host the Montreal Canadiens at 5 p.m. Saturday at TD Garden.