Boston Bruins

Feb 1, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) skates to the bench after scoring a goal against the Seattle Kraken during the second period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

It may seem weird to say this given the fact that they basically didn’t play at all during the first three weeks of the season and had a COVID-induced break over the final week plus of 2021, but these Bruins need a rest.

That time is officially here, too, following Tuesday’s head-to-head with the Kraken. And the good news for the Bruins, who returned home for a quick one-off following a 6-1 waxing at the hands of the Stars this past Sunday, is that they can feel good about their upcoming rest and relaxation thanks to a get-right finish that was enough for another two points.

“I think it’s [coming at] a good time,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of his team’s upcoming, week-long break. “You know, we have an intense schedule. Once we restarted [we’ve had an intense schedule], and we’ll have an intense one once we restart after this break through with the rescheduled and postponed games. So yes, it’s a good time. If it hadn’t been two weeks from now it would be a good time because like I said, it’s very intense. You know, [playing] every second night, now we’re mixing in some travel. We didn’t have a lot of travel there [with] the homestand. We’ll get on the road a little more in February and early March, and sometimes that’s not a bad thing to to get your game in order and your team together.”

But before the Bruins could fully shift to vacation mode, the Kraken wiping out a two-goal lead in the third period saw Cassidy do something we’ve rarely seen during his time behind the bench and call his timeout with a significant chunk of time remaining in the third period. 12 and a half minutes, to be exact. The message from the former Jack Adams winner was simple.

“It was about trying to take a deep breath and not let the game get away from us,” Cassidy said when asked for the thinking behind the timeout. “It got into even [at 2-2]. We had a 12 and a half minute game in front of us. If we value the points, then we’ve gotta start playing the right way, and that was about it. You know, try to get their attention. These guys have been around.

“They know the importance of it. We just we didn’t value that [and] we weren’t very respectful of the game in a number of instances with the puck for whatever reason. And it was some of our veteran guys that typically don’t fall into that category.”

The Bruins bounced back from that wake-up call from their coach in the exact fashion the B’s bench boss wanted, too, as a heavy o-zone shift from the Bruins’ fourth line of Anton Blidh-Steve Fogarty-Oskar Steen (let’s call them the Swedish Clearwater Revival Line and give me $500,000 along the way) drew a penalty and put Boston’s power play back to work.

It was just the opening David Pastrnak needed — and with a little help from Chris Driedger’s glove — to put the B’s up 3-2.

Similar to last Friday in Arizona, this one had the feel of a game where you didn’t care about style points as much as the two points. The Bruins’ status as a wild card team — and as a team in need of a massive second-half surge to push themselves into the top three of a straight-up loaded Atlantic Division — confirms that with even a passing glance at the standings.

And the Bruins can’t help but feel better about their place in those standings by ending their pre-break slate with a victory, opposed to a potential slide that would’ve featured losses in four of their last five games.

“I’m sure some guys will appreciate the timing of it and use it to their advantage,” said Cassidy.

Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 3-2 win over the NHL’s newest team

  • Feb 1, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) reacts after a goal scored by right wing David Pastrnak (not seen) against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

    Bruins’ Hall feeling better, but wants to hit another level

    The 2022 reset has been a great thing for Bruins winger Taylor Hall.

    After beginning his season with five goals and 14 points in 26 games through December, Hall has kicked the clean slate off with five goals and 15 points in 17 games, including a two-point effort in Tuesday’s victory. The resurgence has come with Hall expanding his arsenal, with sweet dishes aplenty to David Pastrnak and a renewed energy as a different kind of but still effective net-front presence for the Black and Gold.

    “I have felt better since the COVID break, just coming in and playing my game, being a little bit more relaxed at the rink and away from the rink, and it lets me play my best when the chips are down,” Hall admitted.

    And his chemistry with No. 88 has provided a noticeable boost to Hall, Pastrnak, and the B’s depth as a whole.

    “We want to attack and we always want to have possession of the puck, but it’s important to remember there’s times where we can chip pucks to each other and make [what] I would call a north play, so the park’s getting north no matter what,” Hall said of his one-two punch with Pastrnak. “So we could probably improve there. And then offensively, I mean, you know how he one-times a puck and how dangerous he is from all areas of the offensive zone. It’s about me kind of knowing where he’s going to be without having to look and we’ve we’ve talked about it, we’ve worked on it and we’re going to continue to get better at that.”

    Still, the 30-year-old feels he has more to give to this team beyond the offensive zone.

    “Last game, I’m on for two goals against [and] tonight I’m on for two goals against, so those are the things that I want to get rid of in my game and really be a reliable two-way guy for the rest of the year, earn more playing time that way, and continue to be a guy offensively that can that can produce in the role that I’m in,” Hall offered. “That’s why I signed here. I believe I have another level to get to as a as a two-way player and hopefully after the break, I can continue that.”

  • Feb 1, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Seattle Kraken center Yanni Gourde (37) boards Boston Bruins defenseman Urho Vaakanainen (58) during the second period at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

    Bruins lose Vaakanainen to boarding from Kraken’s Gourde

    The Bruins added another injury to the list before their break, unfortunately, with defenseman Urho Vaakanainen knocked out of action with a second-period boarding from the Kraken’s Yanni Gourde.

    Vaakanainen, who was cut on the hit, was taken out of the game by the concussion spotter and did not return by the night’s end, so you can do the math there.

    Speaking after the win, Cassidy remarked that it was ‘unbelievable’ that the hit, which went uncalled on the ice at the time but was reviewed as a major and then reduced to a minor, went uncalled.

    A midseason surprise when injuries and COVID-related absences decimated the Boston blue line, Vaakanainen had been getting some right-side work opposite Derek Forbort. That move for the 2017 first-round pick came with the Bruins wondering if he could go full Jakub Zboril and hack it on his off side, as right-side defensive depth has been an issue fro the Black and Gold all season long.

    If Vaakanainen is not well enough to return to play by the time the B’s return from their break, Connor Clifton would be summoned back into action for the Bruins, and with Tyler Lewington, John Moore, and Jack Ahcan behind him.

  • Feb 1, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Seattle Kraken defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (55) checks Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) into a linesman during the third period at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

    Bruins still feel attachment to Jeremy Lauzon

    Speaking of defensemen who can play both sides, Tuesday came with a return to Boston for Bruin-turned-Kraken defender Jeremy Lauzon for the first time since Seattle scooped him out of town last summer.

    Deployed for 14:58 (Lauzon’s wrestling match with the Bruins’ Derek Forbort played a factor there), Lauzon finished the night with a Kraken-high five hits and added a blocked shot and two shots on goal, along with a plus-2 rating.

    It’s been a bit of a weird year for Lauzon in Seattle, and I really do wonder if the Bruins would look into the possibility of reacquiring him for depth purposes should Kraken general manager Ron Francis decide that he’s not in the club’s long-term plans. This wouldn’t be the first time that the Kraken dealt an expansion selection back to their former club (the Caps reacquired goaltender Vitek Vanecek from Seattle before the season began), the Kraken have a crowded defensive grouping, and Lauzon is a pending restricted free agent making $850,000.

    And it’s clear the Bruins still like what he brings to the table.

    “Well, there is [an emotional attachment] for me. I mean, any young guy that you help develop his NHL career, whether it starts in the American League or here when he gets his chance, there always is,” Cassidy said. “Especially a guy like Lauzy. He’s a hardworking guy, very respectful kid, wants to be coached, practices well, understands what he has to get better at, all those things. So the growth for him is great to see. He’s no longer a Bruin, but he was a Bruin.

    “So to me, he’ll always be part of a Bruin. I’m certainly not rooting for him tonight, but tomorrow I will be when they’re playng New York and the next day because he’s a great kid.”