By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins erased two-goal deficits in back-to-back games earlier this week, and then scored the go-ahead goal with 44.7 seconds left in Saturday's meeting with the Senators to extend their point streak to 19 games.
It would seem that there's some sort of higher power at play at this point, but the B's themselves aren't calling it luck. It's instead a consistent end result for a Black and Gold squad whose streak is approaching levels not seen in Boston since 1941.
"It’s not luck when you find ways to win over and over again," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after his team's latest triumph. "Obviously, we’ve got some good players in the room, stepping up at the right time. It’s a sign of a good team because we need it. Some people look at this game, it’s like well they should’ve won by three, four goals because it’s Ottawa, but Ottawa’s played well.
"Most of our games are a grind. They’re close games, and we’re comfortable in them."
No matter the opponent, be it the league-best Lightning or league-worst Senators, the B's ability to find themselves on the right side of a close game is the biggest takeaway right now. This is the kind of stuff that translates to postseason success, as these moments are essentially practice runs for the heightened drama that surely awaits this team's postseason run.
"You need that down the stretch, especially come playoff time, and we’re seeing a lot of good things right now," said Brad Marchand. "Even when we’re not playing our best hockey, you got to be able to find ways to win and that’s what we’re doing."
The Bruins won't have to wait long for another chance to keep that going, with a Sunday night tilt in Pittsburgh on deck.
Here are some other random thoughts and notes from a 3-2 win at TD Garden...
Cassidy promotes Chris Wagner, shortens rest of bench
"I just thought a few guys weren’t competing hard enough offensively with the puck, to get inside, to get behind the goal," Cassidy admitted. "Sometimes the guys, rolling them out there, keeping them in the game, shortening your bench is the way to go. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t."
The tinkering led to an increased for fourth-line winger Chris Wagner, who scored the game-tying goal and even got to skate with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on Boston's first line, in the third period of play.
"I was trying not to screw up," Wagner said of the promotion. "Didn’t really make a couple good plays on the wall, but yeah, it’s an honor to play with them. Just shuffling things around, trying to make things work. So, yeah it’s awesome."
As for the losers from Cassidy's tinkering? Lee Stempniak played a team-low 7:46, and Peter Cehlarik checked in with just 10:00 of action. Charlie Coyle, meanwhile, finished with just 11:45 of time on ice, his lowest single-game total since being traded to Boston.
"Sometimes there’s ways to send messages. Sometimes they get them, sometimes they don’t," Cassidy said of the limited ice-time for more than a few of his forwards. "I just feel that there’s a few guys that need to start competing a little more offensively; be a little harder to play against, get inside, and get rewarded."
Lee Stempniak does very little in NHL return
The wait for Lee Stempniak's 2019 Bruins debut left a whole lot to be desired, really.
The least deployed B's forward throughout the night, the 36-year-old Stempniak's debut came and went without a point nor a shot on goal, but just two hits, one giveaway, and three credited takeaways. The Stempniak was given about six minutes on a second line with David Krejci and Peter Cehlarik that pretty much went nowhere real fast.
"I thought we did a decent job playing defensively but there was some stuff, I’m not really sure how it’s going to look tomorrow," Krejci, who scored the game-winner with Cehlarik and Stempniak parked on the bench, said of the line. "We’ll definitely sit down in the morning and go over some video and go over some things that we can do to get better to help us out there and go from there."
But perhaps Stempniak's struggles were a simple timing thing, and that another NHL showing will get his game back up to speed.
"For me the focus was getting the puck and skating with it and trying to make plays," Stempniak told reporters in front of his locker room stall. "It went pretty well it would have been nice to get a few more shots in and contribute a little more on offense but in the whole, it felt good and it’s something to build on."
The Senators are a nightmare
Finally, mercifully, the Senators have been eliminated from playoff contention. (It's March 10th.) There's no way I can explain to you just how disastrous things have become for the Senators. There's simply not even time and available space. Even for The Internet. It would simply take too long.
Just an example of what fans in Ottawa have been subjected to: At one point in the first period of Saturday's affair, you saw two Senators collide with one another. This happens to every team at some point, I know. B
ut this was different because the puck wasn't near any Senator, they were under no pressure, and it happened at a borderline impossible area of the rink. The Senators followed this up by seeing one of their defenseman attempt an outlet pass to a skater that had lost his stick about eight seconds prior. The sequence alone should be grounds for relegation, in my opinion.
Reminder: This team was an overtime goal away from the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017.
Please give the next Ottawa fan you see a standing ovation. They deserve it.