Charlie McAvoy may only be 20 years old but he is still winning games for the Boston Bruins. In the fourth round of the shootout last night at TD Garden, McAvoy picked the puck up and skated right down the ice ripping a shot low blocker side to beat Connor Hellebuyck. The rookie’s birthday heroics secured the Bruins two points and improved their record to 12-3-1 in their last 16 games. A record that should catch the eyes of opposing teams. As the Bruins seem to have found a perfect mixture of players that gel perfectly together. But three things have been the keys to the Bruins’ recent surge:
The first of the three keys is none other than Tuukka Rask. When Rask was struggling early on everyone pointed it out and killed him for it. Now we have to give him his due because Tuukka has been brilliant as of late. In Rask’s last eight starts the net minder has led the team to an impressive 7-0-1 record, and has made timely stops that saved the Bruins’ two points. Last night when the Bruins got engaged in a defensive grind-it-out hockey game and needed their number one goalie to step up, Tuukka did that and more. Rask survived the onslaught of chances the Winnipeg Jets had in overtime to get the Bruins to the shootout, where McAvoy won for the team.
Tuukka’s play has noticeably inspired confidence in the players around him. The defensemen of the Bruins have been more willing to make offensive plays and close out on the shooters. Rask has proven he can make the big stop when called upon. If Tuukka continues this level of play then the Eastern Conference better watch out.
Bruce Cassidy deserves credit for the Bruins’ ability to not only adapt from game to game but from period to period. After an offensive explosion against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cassidy was able to refocus his team and win against the Buffalo Sabers 3-0 on the second night of a back-to-back. Then to finish it off the Bruins were able to play a high paced game against the Jets last night where they needed to be clutch down the stretch. Three different wins in three different games that is not a common occurrence in the NHL. But the Bruins seem to have bought into the system. As a result they can play whatever style of game the opponent throws at them.
it seems like writing a Bruins article without mentioning the young players at this point is unheard of. But they deserve to be mentioned here and for good reason. In back to back wins one of the Bruins’ rookies had the game winning goal. In Buffalo Jake Debrusk scored the first goal of the game on a filthy snipe in a game the Bruins won 3-0. Also last night McAvoy scored the game winner in the shootout. A pattern has started to develop with this team they win games when their rookies are making plays.
Teams playing the Bruins now cannot key in on Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastranak. Because the Bruins have layers to their forward group that present a daunting task to opponents. Heinen has NHL caliber offensive ability and has displayed it on multiple occasions. While Debrusk and Bjork still have room for improvement both have demonstrated an ability to put the puck in the net.
Up to now the Bruins have been able to ride these things to success. But time will tell how far these keys can take them this season.