By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins have figured out how to stop the bleeding.
And while the Bruins, who have a three-point lead over the Lightning for the most in all of hockey entering Thursday's slate, are not starved for points, this is a major development for Bruce Cassidy's squad.
In a year with six separate streaks of at least three straight victories, the Bruins' success has been limited by the heavy droughts sprinkled in between, and slamming their foot on the brakes hasn't always been easy.
Through the first 20 games of the 2019-20 season, the Bruins had just three wins in seven contests immediately following a loss. And in their next segment (games 21 through 40), the Bruins captured victories in three of their nine games after loss, and at one point dropped six of seven games following a defeat (1-4-2).
That was bad enough for a 6-5-5 record, or 17 of a possible 32 points.
But since the team's Dec. 31 loss to the Devils, the Bruins are 4-2-1 in their first jump back on the ice after taking a loss, and have won three straight contests following defeats after Wednesday's win over the rival Canadiens.
“You want to continue to play well and continue to push the game,” Chara, who is five grand lighter after crosschecking Brendan Gallagher in the throat, said after Wednesday’s victory. “You want to play with a certain identity, and that’s just the way it is. You wanna keep elevating your game and put the emphasis on getting better.”
There's better, and then there's what the Bruins have been responding with following defeats.
The Bruins have been downright dominant following losses over the last few weeks, actually, with wins in four of their last five. The Black and Gold have also established a 17-9 scoring edge over that five-game stretch. (Their only loss over that five-game sample, mind you, came in Columbus on the second leg of a traveling back-to-back and with Tuukka Rask knocked out of the game barely a minute into the first period. Feels worth noting.)
Stopping the bleeding -- and knowing how to have get-right contests -- is the difference between good and elite, really.
And it's incredibly important to find it in the now with the Lightning, who have grabbed wins in 20 of their last 23 contests overall, breathing down the B's throats for the Atlantic.
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 4-1 win over the Canadiens...
The Bruins just buried the Canadiens
Beating the Canadiens is always sweet, but if you want some extra chocolate sauce on that sundae of a victory on Garden ice, just take a look at the NHL standings.
With last night's loss, the Canadiens are now eight points out of the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, and have played two more contests than the team in the second wild card (Flyers).
In fact, according to Sports Club Stats, the Habs now have an under two percent chance of qualifying for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their hopes were already on life support entering Wednesday's contest, of course, but this team needs every point they can get.
David Pastrnak: Canadien Killer
Bruins winger David Pastrnak is an equal opportunity assassin. But after torching the Maple Leafs to absurd degrees over his career to date (Pastrnak has 20 goals and 42 points in 32 career games against Toronto), it would appear that No. 88 has set his sights on burning Montreal to the ground. On the ice for all four meetings with the Habs this season, Pastrnak finished the 2019-20 season series with eight goals. Montreal, by the way, scored eight goals against the Bruins as a team this season.
I miss the familiarity of this rivalry
There's nothing quite like the B's and Canadiens. Remember that run from 2008 through 2011 when these teams basically split TD Garden in terms of occupancy in Boston meetings, and played a total of 18 playoff contests? You saw the decline in regular-season meetings over that same stretch, too, with the teams going from eight meetings and then down to six.
Now? They meet for just four head-to-heads a year, and it's kind of brutal when it comes to your thirst for hatred.
Wednesday was the final meeting of the year between these teams, and their first since Dec. 1 at TD Garden. That's two and a half months in between head-to-heads, and I think that separation has definitely hurt the rivalry to some degree.
Chara trying to go Rambo on Gallagher's throat certainly hurts my argument, I know, but these games have nothing on what they used to be 10 years ago when Milan Lucic wanted to ruin Mike Komisarek's life. Or even when the teams combined for 182 minutes in penalties in a Feb. 2011 meeting that helped set the stage for a downright nasty war between the teams down the stretch, from Max Pacioretty getting stanchioned to their seven-game, round-one battle ended by Nathan Horton.
"There should be some chippiness," Cassidy said after the win. "It’s good to see it. I mean, we only play them four times; that’s another reason why you lose some of the rivalry. It used to be eight times at least, so you don’t see them as much to develop that hatred. You don’t get them in a back-to-back anymore; there probably was some of those games back in the day.
"I liked the way we handled it."
I just wish we got more chances to see how they'd handle it.