By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
When the pile-up along the glass cleared, the game-winning, overtime goal in Boston’s Game 1 win over the Blue Jackets read back as a goal scored by Charlie Coyle, and with assists to Marcus Johansson and Danton Heinen.
If they had room for a third assist, it would have gone to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.
Had it not been for Sweeney, that would have been Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Peter Cehlarik on the ice in that spot. That not only assumes that Bruce Cassidy trusts those players in that moment (the regular season proved he did not), but that the Bruins advance to this stage of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs without a Coyle or Johansson on their roster.
By now, we know that second part is just laughably false.
Over the last two postseason games — a Game 7 against the Maple Leafs and a Game 1 against the Blue Jackets — the Bruins have seen the game-winning goals come from Johansson and Coyle. And if we want to expand on the roster as a whole, the goals have come from Joakim Nordstrom, Johansson, Sean Kuraly, Coyle, Patrice Bergeron, Noel Acciari, Coyle, and Coyle.
That’s a lot of depth scoring, and an awful lot of Sweeney.
“Secondary scoring… something we need,” Cassidy noted after the Black and Gold’s victory. “We lacked it at times this year. We seemed to have found it now, and it’s really helped us. The timing of it has been terrific, and [Coyle] was a big part of that tonight. So, very happy for him. He’s a hard-working guy, glad he got rewarded.”
There’s also something to be said for Cassidy’s willingness to stick with this Johansson-Coyle combination, even when their regular season results (or lack thereof) made you wonder if Cassidy was trying to force chemistry that simply wasn’t there. But from Johansson’s slick passes to Coyle’s shoot-first mentality — typically a rarity for a Boston center, especially those they’ve previously tried on their third line — you’re seeing Cassidy cooking up something special on line three.
“Well, it’s starting to develop,” Cassidy said of his third-line tandem. “That second goal is an all-world play.”
Charlie Coyle for the tie pic.twitter.com/sAPIo9UFTy— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 26, 2019
Add this combination in with a fourth line that’s found its game return with a fully-healthy Sean Kuraly, and the Bruins are finding a way to thrive while their top talents are stuck in the mud of tough defensive assignments and strong goaltending.
That’s perhaps the first time you’ve been able to say that about the obviously top-heavy Bruins all season, and it’s something that’s changed the dynamic of what this team could do this spring in a playoff field short on ex-champs and superpowers.
“It’s what’s needed to win hockey games,” B’s defenseman Torey Krug said. “It’s no secret that the top two lines on our team, people key in on that. They have great scoring power so they’re trying to shut those guys down and all of a sudden it leads up to our bottom six just outworking the opposition, trying to get their chances, funnel pucks to the net and they get rewarded.”
Both on the ice and in the front office’s private box on level nine.
Here are some other random thoughts and notes from a 3-2 final at TD Garden…
Bruins’ Pastrnak remains firmly stuck in scoring slump
I’m just going to throw this one out there: I truly don’t know what’s wrong with David Pastrnak.
It’s all too easy to say that his thumb is still bothering him, but Pastrnak returned late in the regular season and posted seven goals and 15 points in just 10 games. It’s hard to imagine a player being that effective upon a return from injury and then regressing this badly once the postseason starts. If anything, you’d think it’d be just the opposite with that initial hurdle of proving he can still score well behind him.
But the truth is that the B’s winger has not looked this lost since his 2017 first-round showing against the Senators.
The good news is that the Bruins are surviving without No. 88 right now, but if Krejci is going to miss time, the simple fact of the matter is that the Black and Gold are going to need Pastrnak to snap out of this and contribute in some fashion.
Sergei Bobrovsky is going to present problems for Bruins
…You are now about to witness the strength of a legitimate Vezina-caliber netminder.
After people fell over themselves to fawn over the good-not-great play of Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen in round one, TD Garden was introduced to Sergei Bobrovsky, a goaltender that’s simply been on fire this postseason (and was in Game 1).
Straight-up under attack by the Bruins in the first period, Bobrovsky came through with 13 stops alone in the opening 20 minutes of action, and with almost all of those looks coming from between the circles or from the ‘danger areas’ of the ice. And even when the Bruins got their second and third goals of the night, it took Coyle beating Bobrovsky by mere inches (and off a great pass from Johansson) to tie the game, and then a perfect sequence to earn Coyle and the B’s the victory.
With the rest of the Jackets rusty, Bobrovsky did everything in his power to push them to victory, and finished with the ultimate hard-luck loss of a 34-of-37 showing in his net.
“I think their goaltender did a great job of keeping them in the game for a while,” Krug offered. “Obviously, hit a couple posts, he made a couple unbelievable saves. Once you get the lead, you try to extend it, but we weren’t able to and that’s why it came down to a tied game. That’s part of it.”
“He’s the most constant player on our team. It’s always been that way—his work ethic every night is second-to-none,” said Columbus defenseman Seth Jones. “We have the full, utmost confidence in him that he’s going to come ready to go every single night.”
And if that’s the case, this series is going to be an absolute grind for the Bruins.
The B’s penalty kill gets off to good start against CBJ power play
The Bruins are just another successful kill away from matching the amount of kills the Tampa Bay Lightning had in their round one sweep at the hands of the Blue Jackets, as they finished Thursday’s win with a perfect 4-for-4 mark on the penalty kill.
In fact, it’s hard to recall any legitimately great scoring chances Columbus generated at five-on-four play.
Now, it means legitimately nothing if the Jackets come out in Game 2 and post a 2-for-3 on the power play, but it’s a start the Bruins will certainly take, as they limited Columbus to just 19 shots in almost 50 minutes of five-on-five play on Thursday night.