The Bruins entered Tuesday knowing that the Senators were not going to make it easy on them.
Far from the most talented team in the league, the Sens’ success will often be based on their ability to make their opponent uncomfortable. And when the temperature jumped more than a few degrees after a sleepy opening frame on the Boston bench, the Bruins found themselves more than willing to up the ante in a 3-2 victory.
“Those are the type of games we’re better in,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of an emotional, high-energy game at TD Garden. “You gotta be able to play in them [and] be comfortable in them.”
“That’s the way we had to play,” Bergeron noted. “It’s not always about blowing guys up, but at least being physical, finishing checks, getting some momentum, and make it hard to play [against]. I think that’s what teams have done in the past, and you have to respond, and I think that was a good way of responding. I think we need more of that if you want to be successful and if you want to be consistent and create some energy and find ways in tied games like that.”
For the Bruins, the intensity was first dialed up when Charlie Coyle came out of the penalty box and decided to just run over Erik Brannstrom. This was moments after Coyle was whistled for a slash, and Coyle even drew a penalty on Ottawa about two seconds after steamrolling Brannstrom. Now, the Bruins didn’t do anything with that power-play opportunity, but it was the first sign that this team was more than willing to answer Ottawa’s antagonistic ways with a little nasty of their own.
“We got going after [the first period], brought some emotion,” Cassidy acknowledged. “We did find it and we needed it.”
The second period is really where this was on full display. You had David Pastrnak probably get away with a board on Thomas Chabot that opened the door for a scoring chance and you saw Connor Clifton drop the gloves with the Sens’ Alex Formenton after the two got tangled up behind the Boston net. And when Ottawa’s Josh Brown leveled Bruins forward Trent Frederic and knock him out of the game late in the second period, Charlie McAvoy picked his spot for some third-period retribution.
Some BU on BC violence.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) November 10, 2021
Charlie McAvoy drops Zach Sanford with a big hit. pic.twitter.com/7JJabQ1zW0
“They had a good hit, and Charlie McAvoy responded well,” Cassidy said. “[McAvoy] does a lot for us. We need a few other guys back there to sort of bring some of that too. It doesn’t have to be every night, but what we talk about in the room is when it’s your turn and there’s a hit in front of you, don’t turn it down.
“I think Charlie did a good job kind of evening things up in that regard.”
Now the challenge for the Bruins (or any team) comes maintaining that level of intensity. In an 82-game season, it’s just impossible to expect McAvoy to deliver those kind of checks and find himself upright by the year’s end. It has to be a collective, and where players like Anon Blidh and Nick Foligno, both of whom could be back in action as soon as Thursday, can shine.
“Different guys in the lineup have to bring that [intensity],” Cassidy said. “We’ll have to identify that, look at that closer as a staff [with] how we can get certain guys to push through in those situations.”
But no matter the player that night, it’s the kind of recipe that seems to help bring the best out of the Bruins as a unit.
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 3-2 final at TD Garden…
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.