Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) gets set for a face off during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody could fault you for expecting a lot from Hampus Lindholm in his Bruins debut.

From the five-piece price paid to Anaheim to the $52 million extension signed before even landing in Boston, the expectations were certainly there for the 28-year-old defender. And he smashed ’em to the moon in a do-it-all night for the Bruins.

From a successful clear at in the defensive zone to a size-and-strength move to win possession on a 50-50 puck at the attacking blue line, which Lindholm then built on with a great feed to Erik Haula for a high-danger look on the power play out of the gate, Lindholm’s start left no room for criticism. Through 20 minutes, you were wondering if the Bruins truly had something here. And by the night’s end, that wonder turned into an undeniable, “Oh my God, they absolutely have something here.”

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Deployed for 23:26 of action in a head-to-head with the rival Lightning, the 6-foot-4 Lindholm stuffed the box score with four shots, four hits, a block, and a plus-two rating. Oh, and an absolute beauty of a helper on David Pastrnak’s opening goal that started with a smooth defensive-zone retrieval, a successful win against a pressuring Brandon Hagel, and dish to Haula.

“That’s part of my game,” Lindholm, who got the call next to Charlie McAvoy in this game, offered. “I want to be big and strong, and slow it down a little bit and then try to get those passes up the middle and break it out clean. That’s playing to my game.”

Lindholm wasn’t done there.

With the sides deadlocked at 2-2 late in the third, the Bruin found themselves all over the Lightning in the attacking zone. But when Pastrnak’s stick broke and required the Boston sniper to scurry back to the bench for a replacement twig, Lindholm showed his poise to keep the play alive and send it back down behind the Tampa net. From there, the Bruins continued to grind away at Tampa’s defense, which paved the way for a Haula on-the-line keep and feed to Pastrnak for the game-winning marker.

“He was nasty, was amazing,” Pastrnak said of Lindholm. “It’s not easy to come to a new team. Usually you would think it would take a couple games to learn the system and the way our D is playing and the structure.”

Lindholm also had one of the prettiest near-assists you’ll see in 2022 as the middle man on a tic-tac-toe play, but was denied when Trent Frederic’s bid beat the Bolts’ Andrei Vasilevskiy but clanged off the pipe.

“Well, I think [Lindholm] was actually maybe a better puck-mover in small area than I anticipated,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I’m thinking more about the size, mobility, ability to close plays and get his shot through on the offensive-zone blue line, but he made a lot of small-area plays on the breakout that’s gonna benefit this hockey club.”

And while offensive contributions were a welcomed bonus, they didn’t come at the expense of Lindholm’s defensive presence, which was where it needed to be with the Bruins protecting a one-goal lead late in the third. This was especially true on Lindholm’s final shift of the game, dealing with some cramping and all after some extensive travel and quick turnaround to get into action for Thursday’s tilt at TD Garden, when Lindholm doled out a pair of hits along the wall to deny Tampa any traction.

“I think I like playing like this way a little bit more because I like to be in front of the net and be the one battling and boxing out,” Lindholm said of his adjustment from Boston to Anaheim. “I feel like that plays to my strengths.

“I think the way we play is better for me, in a way.”

This is going to be a massive key towards the Lindholm-McAvoy partnership, really, as McAvoy will be able to take full flight knowing that he has Lindholm there as support and vice versa. The duo had a dynamite debut, too, as the Bruins held a 24-12 advantage in shot attempts, 14-4 edge in shots on goal, and 2-0 edge in goals in 15:30 of five-on-five time together. All while spending the majority of their evening going up against the Bolts’ Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point.

“He’s one of those guys that anyone can play with,” Lindholm said of his first night with Boston’s Norris contender. “He’s such a good defenseman. Everyone knows it and everyone sees it. I hope we can develop something here and I can make him a better player, and he’s obviously going to make me a better player.”

And, in turn, make the Bruins a much, much better team.

Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 3-2 final over the Lightning

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) picks up a hat after scoring a hat trick during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    David Pastrnak keeps Boston’s hat business booming

    The North Station pro shop will never have to worry about their hat sales so long as No. 88 is in town.

    On the board with his 12th career hat trick Thursday night, Pastrnak now sits in a tie with Johnny Bucyk for the third-most hat tricks in franchise history. Only Cam Neely (14) and Phil Esposito (26) have more. Given his scoring pace in recent seasons, Pastrnak could in theory make a push to challenge Esposito’s record so long as he spends his entire career with the Bruins. That’s just a ridiculous thing to say given Espo’s numbers with the Bruins.

    Oh, the three-goal effort also gives Pastrnak an NHL-leading 28 goals in 38 games since January 1.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Erik Haula (56) controls the puck in front of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during the first period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    Erik Haula continues post-deadline surge for Bruins

    The Bruins did not make an upgrade to the middle of their second line by this past Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

    But that hasn’t stopped second-line center Erik Haula from playing like an upgrade, with five assists in two games since Monday’s deadline passed without an external addition to Boston’s center depth. This, of course, after going the previous six games with zero points and a minus-4 rating, along with a few in-game demotions.

    “When Erik is skating, he is at his most effective,” Cassidy said after the Black and Gold’s 40th victory of the season. “And between those guys [on the second line], you have to skate to keep up. But you also have to skate to reload if plays don’t work out, and he’s kind of bought into that. The last goal is a great example. He is working his way out of the zone knowing that there’s a rush maybe coming back. He stops on a puck and now we’re on offense again.”

    And for all the talk of the defensive competition, is Haula perhaps feeling an uptick in his own competitive fire with Jack Studnicka back in the NHL mix and actually looking pretty decent this time around as a more complete player?

    “Listen, guys go through stretches where they’re feeling it, and he’s feeling it right now,” said Cassidy.

    All competition is good competition for these Bruins.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) collides with Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) during the second period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    Now presenting, the worst penalty you’ll see in 2022…

    I’m gonna need the biggest brain in the world to figure out how this was a tripping penalty on Jeremy Swayman.

    Hey, quick shoutout to Swayman for smiling and laughing about the call. I think I’d go full ’09 Providence Tuukka.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; The Boston Bruins celebrate their win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    The Junk Drawer

    • Thursday’s win, by the way, has given the Bruins back-to-back victories against Tampa Bay. If it feels like it’s been a long-ass time since that’s happened, you’re not wrong. In fact, the last time the Bruins have a win streak of any sort against the Bolts was all the way back in 2017-18, when they carried a four-game win streak over Tampa Bay. With the win, the Bruins also jumped over the Lightning for third place in the Atlantic.

    • Defenseman Mike Reilly sat this game out of as a healthy scratch for the Bruins. The Bruins have said that if Reilly does play with Derek Forbort, it will be on the right side. And with Connor Clifton deployed for a defense-low 12:00 of time on ice, I don’t think we’re going to have to wait long to see that.

    • Weird stat: Blackhawk-turned-Lightning forward Brandon Hagel has been the scorer on three of the 12 goals given up by Bruins netminder Jeremy Swayman over his last five starts.

    • Tremendous atmosphere at the Garden for this game. As someone who had tickets to the Drug Church show at Sonia, this decision went down to the wire, but gotta say, I think I chose correctly. It’s also my job, and I figured I ruin the lives of both Alex and Matt enough as is, so there’s that tricky little detail. (That said, check out their new album ‘Hygiene’ if you’re into post-hardcore and things of that nature. Can’t recommend it enough.)

    • Random Lightning player: Evgeny Artyukhin. Remember this dude? He was like 6-foot-5 and impossible to miss on some horrendous Tampa Bay teams. Bounced to Anaheim and Atlanta after his Lightning days.

    • Joe Haggerty was not wearing a Vegas Golden Knights facemask, but respect to David Pastrnak interrupting his question to ask if it was. It was a Mandalorian mask. “I’ve seen it all from you, Haggs,” Pastrnak said.

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