By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It didn’t take long for everybody to realize that Charlie Coyle is more than point totals.
Hell, just look at what he did upon his move from Minnesota to Boston last year. After totaling just two goals and six points in 21 games as Boston’s third-line stabilizer, Coyle emerged as the Bruins’ most consistent scoring threat throughout their four-round run, and finished with nine goals and 16 points in 24 games for the Black and Gold’s near-run to glory.
There’s just so many little things and details that Coyle takes care over the course of a three-period night.
But when the points come, they certainly come in bunches.
Putting the Bruins on the board in what finished as a 4-0 victory over the Canucks on Tuesday night at TD Garden, the tally pushed Coyle to three goals and eight points in his last 11 games. It’s not the first hot streak of Coyle’s season (he had three goals and nine points during an eight-game run in November), but it just goes to show how straight-up dangerous the Bruins are as a team when it’s Coyle’s line putting in the work and creating the mismatches they’ve feasted on since he arrived.
“You always wanna shoot for more,” Coyle said of his latest run. “You just wanna do it the right way.”
For Coyle, the right way was on full display on Tuesday, as his line outright dominated the puck, and controlled possession at over 70 percent. They were matched up against Vancouver’s (improved) second line for a good stretch of the evening, too, meaning that this was more than taking advantage of an aforementioned mismatch. This was creating a mismatch.
“Sometimes you get the points, [and] sometimes you get lucky,” said Coyle. “Sometimes you’re playing the right way, and points-wise you’re not on the scoresheet, but you’re playing good hockey.”
With Coyle’s line dominating in the offensive zone, the Black and Gold were able to consistently roll their four lines in a winning effort. You truly saw them mixed-and-match their offensive-zone starts and d-zone draws because they were able to trust every one of their lines. In other words, they didn’t have to needlessly overuse The Bergeron Line in search of offense.
“That’s the thing with this team: everybody wants to contribute, and everybody’s gonna,” Coyle offered. “It’s about playing the right way and it doesn’t matter who scores, who gets the assists. Everybody’s gonna do their part.”
But that doesn’t mean Coyle’s blind to how his impact can allow everybody else to do their part with a bit more freedom.
“If I can take some more pucks to the net and do those things — shoot the puck a little more — I think that’s gonna pay off for myself, the team, and my linemates,” Coyle, who at times has been asked to be more a little more selfish and adopt more of a take-charge mentality with the puck on his stick, admitted. “That’s the mindset.”
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a shutout win over the Canucks…
Sean Kuraly returns with a bang
Bottom-six motor Sean Kuraly isn’t the kind of player that enjoys sitting in the press box.
But that’s the hand he was dealt last Saturday when Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy decided to sit No. 52 as a healthy scratch for Boston’s 6-1 win over the Wild. The win also came with Kuraly’s replacement, Par Lindholm, getting on the board by way of an assist on Torey Krug’s game-opening goal on Devan Dubnyk. In essence, the fire was certainly lit.
And boy did Kuraly play like it on Tuesday night.
“I liked it a lot better,” Cassidy said of Kuraly’s game. “He had the puck, he was assertive, trying to get to the net. All we’re going to hear about is that move there with a minute to go from him, but we can live with that. I thought he got in shooting lanes. Sometimes freeing up and going to the wing allows you to do some of that; you’re not worried about what’s going on behind me or first back in the zone. It’s something we’ve talked about with Sean — do we toggle him, or try him over there? I thought it worked out well tonight for him and he showed the player he can be for us.”
There was definitely more edge to Kuraly’s game against Vancouver — whether that had to do with him being sent a message over the weekend or getting freed up on the wing is up to you, though it’s probably a little bit of both — but with Kuraly looking like a fit with Coyle and Anders Bjork, it does create a potentially interesting dynamic when Cassidy shortens his bench.
Canucks’ Green takes exception to Grzelcyk’s hit on Pettersson
The Bruins set the tone early in the first period of this victory with Matt Grzelcyk’s rubout on Vancouver star Elias Pettersson.
Grzelcyk’s finish caused a minor scene between the two Cup rivals of yesteryear, and while it wasn’t enough to warrant a penalty (it ironically was almost the same exact position Grzelcyk suffered his concussion last June), Canucks coach Travis Green made it known to everybody with a working microphone that he was not happy with the lack of a call on No. 48.
“I’m so frustrated with it,” Green said after the loss. “This guy’s one of the best young players in the league and he gets hit. He’s totally defenseless; it’s two seconds after he lets go of the puck. I’ve watched it a couple times. He’s unassuming, he’s defenseless and he feels like there’s no way he’s going to get hit in that spot, he’s in a vulnerable position.”
“Those are hits that the league is trying to get out of the league — especially against top young guys, top players in the league — and I think [Pettersson] shown that he’s one of tho se guys and it is frustrating for me as a coach to see some of the abuse he takes where he doesn’t get called,” Green continued. “He works through it and he gets frustrated and I know they keep – you know, he’s not the biggest guy but that doesn’t mean you can take advantage of a player that’s not ready to be hit.
“That’s very late, that should have been a penalty all day long.”
Nobody won the Summer of 2016
If you were one of those people saying the Bruins would be fools to sign Loui Eriksson to a big-money extension, congratulations, you were absolutely correct. I thought Eriksson was a fantastic fit with David Krejci and worth the money, but there’s no denying that his game has flown out the window since he moved from Boston to Vancouver in 2016. I think the Bruins deserve credit for realizing that this wasn’t going to be a player they wanted to commit $6 million per year to over the next five to six years, and so do you. Good on them, and good on you for being ahead of it. You/they were right, I was wrong.
But, this victory lap has to come with a slight limp when you consider what the Bruins did instead of signing Eriksson to his demands. Instead of pocketing that money for a big fish free agent in 2017 or 2018, the Bruins immediately spent it on David Backes. Now, we don’t have to go down have to go down that road again and talk about the Backes failure in Boston. It’s an expensive headache. But one thing you can say about Loui right now that you can’t about Backes: He’s still in the NHL.
In other words, everyone’s a loser when it comes to that 2016 summer. And this goes beyond the B’s and Canucks.
It was in ’16 that the Oilers gave Milan Lucic a seven-year deal worth $42 million. He’s since been traded to the Flames (with salary retained), and his goals have cost his teams about $500,000 per when broken down by money earned to date. Andrew Ladd ($38.5 million over seven years from the Islanders) has spent all but one game in the minors this season, and the Sabres’ Kyle Okposo ($42 million over seven years) has five goals in 40 games this season. The Wings gave Frans Nielsen $31.5 million over six years and he’s rewarded them with 116 points in 276 games, including seven in 46 games to date this season.
It may very well go down as the worst free agent class of the modern era.