Let’s start with the bad: The Bruins were less than 22 seconds away from a potential perfect road trip that included stops in Seattle, California, Vegas, and then Columbus. Now, the good: The Bruins were less than 22 seconds away from a potential perfect road trip that included stops in Seattle, California, Vegas, and then Columbus.
On a flight back to Boston with 10 of a possible 12 points banked away following a shootout win over the Blue Jackets, it’s real hard not to feel great about what the Bruins are doing these days.
“I thought it was a real good trip,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the trip following its conclusion at Nationwide Arena. “Lot of good hockey. The only one that got away was Anaheim late. Coulda had points there as well. I don’t think we stole any games by any means. I thought we played good, solid hockey in every city we visited.”
But what did we learn about the Bruins?
If we take a look at their loss in Anaheim, it was easy to notice some of the team’s tired legs and how that factored into iffy decisions. It was the second leg of a back-to-back, their third game in four nights, and fourth game in six days (all of which were on the road). So, naturally, you expect some fatigue to factor into the team’s performance. Especially in a close game.
If the Bruins want to manage those issues down the stretch, which they absolutely will have to given their breakneck-speed schedule heavy on this grind, they’ll need every available forward and extra defenseman to provide a jolt of energy when called upon. This is where you can find the extra value in guys like Anton Blidh and Connor Clifton, as both are examples of players who provide pop (and then some) when thrown back into the lineup after trips to the press box. That’ll be easier for the Bruins to manage when they’re no longer worrying about banking away deadline cap space.
Focusing on the victories, however, the Bruins wrapped up this trip with goals from nine different scorers, and 16 different players recorded at least one point. The only three players who posted triple-donuts for the trip: Defenseman Mike Reilly, and forwards Jesper Froden and Curtis Lazar. Froden would’ve found the back of the net had it not been for an incredible toe save from Jonathan Quick and Lazar returned to the lineup Saturday night after playing less than four minutes in Seattle and missing the next four games with an injury. You’ll let their 0-fers slide.
In tandem with that balanced production, you had takeover nights from different lines. Jake DeBrusk netted a hat trick riding with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the new-look, heavy Frederic-Coyle-Smith line powered the Bruins to victory over the Golden Knights, and the fourth line nearly willed the Bruins to victory in that loss in Anaheim.
When talking about a Bruins team that’s been historically and painfully top heavy, this is one hell of a confidence booster.
“I’d like to think our guys would get some confidence,” Cassidy said. “Different guys stepped up from this trip. Lotta guys can feel good about themselves and that’s what you want with your group: to feel like you can win every night.”
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 5-4 shootout win in Columbus…