SUCCESSFUL BOSTON HOMESTAND
As hard as it is to believe, the Boston Bruins homestand was actually a success. The Bruins earned 6 out of a possible 8 points during the 4 game stint at the Garden and showed signs of life. Boston kicked off the homestand with an impressive 6-3 win over the Canucks. This was followed by a 5-4 overtime loss to the Sabres, 2-1 victory over San Jose and finally a 2-1 overtime loss to the red hot Kings.
Just looking at the boxscores will not show the entire story, this was a rollercoaster ride. When the Bruins won, they did so in impressive fashion. The 2-1 win against San Jose was the best 60 minutes of hockey the team has played this season. Boston showed up undermanned and out-skilled, but still ground out a tough physical game against a better team. The best development from this game won’t show up on a stat sheet, it was the team defense in their own zone.
Boston Defensive Improvements
During the early part of the season, and most notably in that collapse against Buffalo, defense has been a major problem. The Bruins have had major issues communicating in the defensive zone, especially when a team uses a five man rotation in the offensive zone. This has forced the youth of the Bruins to switch along the walls and cover the seams between the face-off dots. Against San Jose and the Kings, it was astronomically better. In the Sharks game, there was only a handful of open looks from the slot. Against the Kings, the Bruins play behind their own goal, and in the corners was notably more physical.
Those developments alone should spark a glimmer of hope in the hearts of Bruins fans. However, when it comes to the Bruins there is always something to be negative about. While the Bruins looked sharp against the Kings, they somehow managed to give up the game winning goal in overtime off a set face-off play, with only 0.4 tenths of a second left. While it may seem like a fluke play (and it is to an extent), the Bruins are the only ones to blame for being in that position. The icing forced Pastranak to stay on the ice, take the face off against Anze Kopitar, and off the face-off win, the Bruins left Tyler Toffolie with to much space for a quick one timer.
The best development from the Kings game, was the play of Tuukka Rask. Rask was excellent in goal, making 5-6 eye opening saves to keep the Bruins in the game, and get them a point. While Rask can be frustrating to watch, the Bruins need him to be at his best for them to have a chance at a playoff spot this year. A performance like that, while it may not show up in the win column, can do wonders for both Rask and the teams confidence.
While the Bruins had a couple gut punching losses, and should have won all four games, it’s hard to complain too much about the teams overall effort. This was the best weekend of the season for the Bruins, and they’ll look to build off of it going forward.