BOSTON — The Bruins are on another roll.
And this one seems more significant than the one at the beginning of the season that powered them to a 20-3-5 start.
The Bruins beat back the Arizona Coyotes, 4-2, Saturday at TD Garden. The Bruins have won all five games since the All-Star break and six in a row overall. The Bruins stand atop the NHL with 80 points and a 34-10-12 mark.
Saturday’s heroes were Charlie Coyle (two goals), David Pastrnak (two power play assists) and Zdeno Chara (one pregame tribute). Coyle provided the scoring, Pastrnak provided the power play juice again and Chara displayed the character and leadership in humbly accepting the tribute from the team for passing the 1,500-game NHL milestone and the 1,000-game milestone with the organization earlier this year.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses on this day, though.
Already without defenseman Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon took a 5-minute match penalty when he loaded up his elbow for a shot to the head of Derek Stepan in the final minute of the first period, just moments after serving a 2-minute high sticking penalty. Lauzon, fortunately, didn’t connect directly with Stepan but did enough damage by knocking him into the boards that the penalty for attempt to injure was upheld by video review in Toronto.
Lauzon was sent to the showers and will likely be hearing from the league.
“I didn’t think it was a match penalty, personally,” Bruce Cassidy said. “I don’t know the exact factors of, okay, hit to the head? Is it unsuspecting? Injury? That’s the only discussion I had with the official. He was adamant that the player was out. I was like well, okay, he got hurt but he’s in the game. He’s not out, out. There was a bit of a difference of opinion on that. At the end of the day, that’s what they called. I thought there was a very, very, very similar hit on [Charlie] McAvoy right after that that went a different direction. Again, that’ll be up to them now, the league. I think they tend to look at those after the fact and we’ll see what happens.”
Arizona took a 1-0 lead when old friend Phil Kessel beat Tuukka Rask nearly four minutes into the five-minute all-you-can-get power play. But the Bruins killed off the remaining 74 seconds of the power play and took control of the game from there.
Charlie Coyle took a feed from Charlie McAvoy in front of the net and put it past Adin Hill to tie the game, 1-1.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 8, 2020
Then the Bruins power play stepped up, namely David Pastrnak. It wasn’t Pasta scoring but rather feeding players in front, namely Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk two and a half minutes apart for a 3-1 lead after two periods.
“We were tasked with killing a five-minute major there, so we killed two in the first period and then we almost got through it,” Bruce Cassidy told me. “I thought we felt we were okay, deal with a little extra workload. But we had to step it up. I thought our power play was slow in terms of their execution and puck movement and I think we picked up our pace there, and that always feeds into the rest of your game, if your power play gets going.
“It’s a lot of skilled guys touching the puck, so it tends to get them going a little bit. They responded well and from there I thought we were pretty good, limited their chances. A little dicey at the end, but got it done.”
The real key to this latest surge from the Bruins is the production of players on the roster not named David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Namely, Charlie Coyle, he scored twice and has 12 goals on the season. It’s no secret that the Bruins are going to go as far as their depth scoring. Having your third line center start to produce is going to mean bigger and better things for the Bruins come playoff time. And that’s what this time in February is really all about.
“Well, I have to tell you, he’s really driving that line,” Cassidy said. “I thought he was exceptional with the puck. Now, with Kuraly on the left, it’s a little bit different flavor than maybe a Danton Heinen. Bjorkie [Anders Bjork] has added some speed on the right side as well, so you have some guys who can really hunt pucks. So, he hangs on to it as much as he can, puts it to an area those guys can track it down for him, but he also knows they’re younger guys, so drive the line. I like that Charlie does that. I hope that’s his response that he wants to be the leader of that line.
“Typically, centers are, but in this case, that’s what we’ve asked, because it’s been young guys for the most part. Jake [DeBrusk] was probably the most veteran guy he played with there for a while, but it’s typically been a [Sean] Kuraly moving up or [Karson] Kuhlman a little bit, Bjork for a long time. So, I like his game that way when he’s playing, he’s really hard to play against, and I think he knows it, so it’s just a matter of getting it out of him every night and see where it leads.”