Bruins

Ryan: On a night where Bruins top stars shined at Lake Tahoe, Boston’s shorthanded D corps served as backbone of complete ‘team win’

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Sunday's shellacking against the Flyers had all the hallmarks of a classic Bruins victory.

The top weapon in Boston's arsenal — a 24-year-old sniper from the Czech Republic — might have ditched the "Macho Man" Randy Savage shades ahead of puck drop, but David Pastrnak still appeared larger than life when out skating atop the frozen sheet of ice planted on the shores of Lake Tahoe. The superstar forward gave the people what they wanted for the nationally-televised showcase, rifling three pucks past Carter Hart and Brian Elliott en route to his 10th career hat trick.

Other stalwarts on Boston's roster also made their presence felt in what was eventually a 7-3 drubbing of the Flyers during the NHL's Outdoors at Lake Tahoe showcase. 

Patrice Bergeron showcased his two-way excellence in his second consecutive outdoor event, setting up Pastrnak's opening tally before later breaking up a shorthanded chance from Kevin Hayes off of a fantastic backchecking sequence. Tuukka Rask, despite battling glare and some brutal bounces off the boards, stood tall in net.

And Charlie McAvoy, the unquestioned "Alpha Dog" on this revamped Bruins D corps, continued on in his campaign for Norris Trophy consideration — leading all B's in ice time (23:59) while uncorking a bomb from the blue line that sailed past Hart for an equalizer goal in the first period of action.

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And yet, for as lopsided as the final score might have been on Sunday evening in Stateline, Nevada — this trademark two points for Bruce Cassidy's club had all the makings of a potential disaster just a few minutes into regulation.

While the setting sun created its fair share of hazards for both Boston and Philly skater alike in the opening frame, Cassidy and his staff also had another issue brewing on their bench — as an already decimated D crops was going to be hollowed out even more, less than a minute into the game.

Jeremy Lauzon, the last man standing on Boston's left side from the B's opening-night lineup, logged just over 30 seconds of ice time Sunday before exiting the contest for good with an upper-body injury, leaving Boston with five healthy bodies remaining on the blue line with ... *checks calculator* ... about 59 minutes of action remaining on the clock.

An already overhauled Boston defense was already seemingly on its last legs entering Sunday night, with both Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril already ruled out due to injury, while Kevan Miller was held out due to "load management" concerns. With Lauzon now out less than a minute in, three of Boston's five remaining D-men were a pair of NHLers that opened the season as reserves in Connor Clifton and John Moore, with Urho Vaakanainen serving as the next man up in what was his season debut with the big club.

Hardly an ideal situation for the Bruins, to say the least.

And yet, for as much as Boston's top stars left their fingerprints all over this win, the final result could have been very different had a number of unsung contributors not answered the call as the next men up on this deep B's roster.