By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins and Rangers decided to turn back the clocks Friday night with more goals than fights in a 1-0 final that ultimately favored the Black and Gold by the night’s end.
It was just the jump the Bruins needed to get their game going in this one, too.
On the ice for one of their sleepier first periods of the season, the B’s first dropped the gloves in the second period following Jacob Trouba’s center-ice blow-up on Boston d-man Jakub Zboril. Charlie McAvoy was the combatant that time around, but McAvoy really didn’t get his money’s worth.
That was instead a job for Trent Frederic.
Dancing with Brendan Lemieux just one second after Nick Ritchie’s fifth goal of the season gave the Bruins their first and only lead of the night, Frederic and Lemieux exchanged blows in what was a straight-up heated bout, which ended with Frederic demanding more on his way to the box.
“He seems to have a really good sense of when to engage with the opponent,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Frederic’s fight-friendly style that’s been a value-add every time he’s dropped the gloves. “He’s done it twice now. And I thought today got jumped a little bit early on, but found himself so good for him. I think it helped generate some energy for us again.”
Frederic’s decision to answer Lemieux’s challenge kept the Bruins’ hearts racing, and Jeremy Lauzon’s mugging of Pavel Buchnevich to close out the middle frame kept the mojo on Boston’s side. Even if it took the Bruins’ top left-shot defenseman out of the equation for an additional 10 minutes by way of a misconduct for “continuing the altercation” according to the on-ice officials.
“I think it’s important to play physical for our club,” Lauzon said after the victory. “And it’s really good to just initiate and not [retaliate]. I think we we were really physical and it paid off for us.”
It felt like every time the Rangers tried to set the tone — either with a big hit in the case of Trouba or Lemieux looking to spark his own team with a wake-up call fight — the Bruins refused to budge.
“The orneriness begins, and I think that’s when we’re at our best,” Cassidy offered. “We’re perfectly comfortable in those games, and it got a little bit physical and all of a sudden our guys are engaged in the game offensively and physically, and we typically are defensively. So now all of a sudden all phases are humming. And I think that’s when we kind of took over the game.
“That’s when I thought we certainly put our best foot forward and became the better team.”
Here’s some other thoughts from a 1-0 final in New York…
13th 12th: Jaroslav Takes Manhattan
Bruins netminder Jaroslav Halak is off to a fantastic start to his 2021, as Friday’s 21-save shutout improved his record on the year to a stellar 4-0-1, and lifted his save percentage up from .923 to .938.
But against the Rangers, Halak has put together a career of dominance, with a 23-8-1 record and .927 shutouts, along with four shutouts, in 34 career meetings with the Blueshirts.
So what’s in the secret sauce?
“I just try to play my best every night,” Halak said. “Not every night is going to work out, but it seems like it’s been working against these guys. I thought we we were really good in the second and third period. First [period], they came on hard and they skated and forechecked hard. But we we managed to stay in the game. And [in the] second and third, we felt like we were playing much better.”
Halak’s shutout, by the way, made him just the ninth Bruins netminder in the league’s modern era, and first since Alex Auld in Mar. 2008, to record a road shutout over the Rangers.
B’s penalty kill continues to dominate
Just an absolutely ridiculous night from the B’s penalty-killing unit, which killed off all six Ranger power-play opportunities, and held the Blueshirts to just five power-play shots. This was a complete effort, too, with 10 different Boston killers finishing with at least three shorthanded minutes.
Up front, the effort was led by Patrice Bergeron’s 4:33 of penalty-killing action, while the backend effort was headlined by a staggering 5:38 from Brandon Carlo and 5:58 from Kevan Miller.
The duo saved their best work for last, too, with the Bruins denying the Rangers completely during a 6-on-4 opportunity with Charlie McAvoy in the box for the final 1:02 of the game.
“That P.K. At the end was a classic example of [Carlo and Miller] working really hard to keep the puck out of their net just by being smart and being strong,” said Cassidy. “And I mean we killed a whole minute or whatever it was, 40 seconds almost, along the boards and [Brad Marchand] was smart with a stick and keeps them from getting set up. So it was a great job.”
“I think everybody on the penalty kill deserves credit because they did a terrific job,” Halak said. “And every time we had a chance to skate a puck up ice we did and created some chances even on the P.K.”
Madison Square Garden no longer a problem for Bruins
Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden no longer seems to be the House of Horrors it once was for the Bruins. Now, the fact that the world’s most famous arena is currently without fans and the fact that the Rangers are in the East Division’s basement certainly have something to do with that. But with Friday’s victory, the Bruins have now won four straight contests at MSG dating back to last season. That’s their longest win streak in N.Y. since a four-game streak from Mar. 1993 through Jan. 1995.
Prior to this four-game streak, the Bruins had posted a 6-14-4 at Madison Square Garden since the start of the 2005-06 season, with two separate losing streaks of at least four games.
The sweet smell of street-meat and roasted peanuts apparently does the B’s good these days.