Five in a row; Capitals on deck
Completing their four-game road trip with the second leg of a back-to-back, the Minnesota Wild could not wait to get out of Boston, and back home to Minnesota. That was pretty evident from the drop of the puck Tuesday night.
The game started off with two lackluster shots on goal by the Wild, and just six in total in the opening period.
After Danton Heinen and Brad Marchand gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead halfway through the period, the Wild began to waive the white flag.
Knowing the position the Wild were in schedule wise, and seeing their complete lack of effort on the ice, the Bruins kept their foots on the gas pedal with Jake DeBrusk’s, late first period power play strike, and Patrice Bergeron’s second period goal on the man advantage.
With a 4-0 lead heading into the third, and the Wild snoozing, the two teams produced a combined 13 shots in what was by far the most boring 20 minutes of hockey the Bruins have seen this season.
“Yeah, I mean I think the guys are aware of the schedules. A tough one for Minny. We’ve been on the other side of it at times where you’re going from city to city, playing the night before, a tough game,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy.
“I think the way you try to avoid helping them along is managing the puck and don’t give them easy chances. Make them go 200 feet. Stay out of the box. Well, we did one of them. We took a couple penalties, but our penalty kill was excellent, so we didn’t allow them to get some momentum going.”
The Wild failed to land a single power play shot on goal in three power play opportunities. The Bruins on the other hand, converted on both power plays en route to their four goals. The Bruins goals were not the sexiest of goals, but ones that were indicative of how the night was going for the Minnesota Wild.
The goals came via a Heinen tip of a John Moore shot. Marchand turning a tough angle, low-percentage shot into a goal, DeBrusk using his chest to redirect a shot, and a puck trickling in off of Bergeron’s skate.
“Yeah, it was a weird one,” DeBrusk said of his goal. “It was something I’ve never done before, so I didn’t actually know how to react. Usually I have really good celebrations, but at the same time, I think it was just one of those surprising things where it just went off my chest and in the net and it is what it is.”
Strangest goal DeBrusk has scored? Check.
“Yes, by far,” said DeBrusk. “Yeah I haven’t taken one off the chest so that’s probably my favorite one of the season so far.”
The Bruins came out flying in the first period, completely dominating the Wild. Part of that was on the Wild, part of that was a red-hot, hungry Bruins team. Tuesday’s victory was the fifth in a row for the Bruins, and first shutout of the season for Rask. The win was also Rask's 250th career victory.
“Yeah, we’ve played great. I think our team defense the past few games at least has been very good and I think it shows on the scoreboard and in points,” said Rask who made 24 saves in the win. “The last two games, I don’t think there’s too many odd-man rushes at all. I think we’re eliminating the offense of the opposing team very well and then getting rewarded in the other end, so that’s a great sign – the way we want to play.”
With a season high five straight wins, the Bruins have been playing the way they want to. They’ll need to keep that up Thursday if they want to extend their steak to six.
The only thing standing in their way is a Washington Capitals team that the Bruins simply have not been able to beat. It’s the first time the two teams will meet since the Capitals 7-0 victory on opening night.
“Washington coming in is a little different. We haven’t had much success against them, so we’re leaning towards, I’ll tell you flat out, [Jaroslav] Halak because he hasn’t started against them in a Bruins uniform, so kind of like Anaheim – throw a different guy in there and get a result,” Cassidy said of who will be in net Thursday night.
During the course of their win streak, I have heard and read some question the legitimacy of the streak.
A win against a Sabres team without star Jack Eichel, and wins against a Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild team that was starting their backup goalie, on the second night of a back-to-back have carried the claim. A win against the Capitals will validate it all.
The Bruins have to beat the Capitals eventually, right?