By: Mike Grinnell
Coming off my last ‘State of the Bruins’ column, the Bruins were 2-3 and fresh off a victory against the Arizona Coyotes. This weeks column, repeats the same pattern, coming off a game against the Coyotes. The Bruins shut out the Arizona Coyotes Tuesday night, 6-0, sweeping the season series with the 2-0. The Bruins saw goals from Krejci, Connolly, Hayes, Morrow, and Marchand along with getting a solid shut out performance from goalie Tuukka Rask. The Bruins are 4-3-1 and 4-0-1 in their last 5 games. The Bruins look to stay hot as they face off against the Panthers Friday and the Lightning Saturday.
This offseason, when the Bruins moved Milan Lucic, many worried this could negatively affect his former line mate, David Krejci. This season has shown absolutely no signs of the offseason trade affecting the 29 year old center, as he is second on the NHL leader board in points on the season with 14.
8 games this season for the Bruins, 8 games David Krejci has scored a point. Krejci has 7 goals and 7 assists on the year and has scored a goal, or an assist in every Bruins game this season. (longest streak by a Bruin to begin season since Joe Juneau and Dimitri Kvartalnov scored in the first 14 consecutive games in 92-93 for Bruins.)
“He’s off to a good start. It’s all about confidence in this league and he’s gotten off to a good start. He’s feeling good about his game.” Coach Claude Julien told reporters after Tuesdays game. “He’s very healthy as you can see. That makes a big difference. It’s nice to have him back.”
Krejci’s teammates are impressed with his hot-start, also…
“He’s been unbelievable” Marchand told reporters, “he plays like that every year. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t, but he’s such a dominant player in this league. He’s able to slow the game down the way very few guys can do in this league and when he’s on you’ve got to watch him every shift. He’s very dangerous and he can create something beautiful out of nothing so it’s fun to watch him play.”
Krejci, playing alongside David Pastrnak, and recently Loui Eriksson, are really starting to click as a line, which can really benefit the Bruins for the longevity of the season, that’s if they can keep up the hot start.
When asked about his chemistry with his teammates, Eriksson couldn’t help but attribute the success to Krejci’s hot start. “[David] Krejci is on fire right now, he’s finding ways to score goals and he’s playing great right now. You just have to keep doing the right things and hopefully we can continue to play well.”
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has gotten off to a slow start this season. Allowing 22 goals in his first 5 games this season. Tuesday night, we saw the old side of Rask, the side Bruins fans like.
The former Vezina Trophy winner made 24 saves Tuesday night on his way to his first shut out of the season.
“I felt good today so I just try to keep that going. You know, obviously a shutout makes you look even better, but I felt good.” Rask said after Tuesday nights tilt, “I think the team felt good. The team looked good so that’s a good building block for us and we’re trying to keep doing this”
We can look at the defense, and offensive woes, but Rask is right, good goaltending play is not only a good building block for this team, it’s great. This team goes as goes Rask goes. If this Bruins team wants to have any success this year, it lies on Rask’s shoulders.
If the Bruins can get the Rask they saw last night, all season? This team can find themselves back in the playoffs after last season’s hiatus.
Three games ago, Brett Connolly was scratched against the Arizona Coyotes, things have changed a little since then. Connolly has scored in all 3 games since being a healthy scratch Oct. 17th.
Connolly, playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, attributes a lot of his recent success, to his line mates. “When I’m with those guys, I’m just trying to be hard on the forecheck and get open. Obviously Marchy [Brad Marchand] made a great pass on my goal.” Connolly told reporters after Tuesday night’s W. “Those are two guys that are very consistent they work hard every shift and you got to match that every shift. They’re two guys that have been in the league a long time and won. Two guys I obviously look up to and I want to give them my best game every time I’m on the ice. It’s helped me for sure playing with those guys.”
Connolly has since impressed his coach since he was put on Press Box Duty on Oct. 17th. “He’s been scoring some goals and he’s been a good fit so far on that line [with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand].” Julien said, “His skill level is starting to show right now. He’s got a good shot – we’ve said that all along – big body, good skater. It’s nice to see him pick up his pace there.”
Connolly has 4 points on the year (4 goals, 1 assist) and has 4 points on the year playing alongside, Bergeron and Marchand. If the success continues between Marchand, Bergeron, and Connolly, I can’t imagine Brett Connolly back on Press Box Duty any time soon.
The Little B’s
Longmeadow Mass native and Providence Bruin Frank Vatrano is absolutely lighting it up in the AHL this season. Vatrano has 8 goals in 7 games this season for the Bruins down in Providence. The former Umass and USNDT product, is really coming into his own this season down in Rhode Island and his work ethic this summer has propelled him to leading the AHL in goals.
“My biggest thing was working on my conditioning this summer. When you get to the next level you’ve got to give your all in every minute of the game,” said Vatrano. “I really focused on running a lot, and getting my body fat down and my conditioning up. I’m down almost 15 pounds from the end of last year.” Vatrano told CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty. “I can feel the difference out there. I feel awesome out on the ice. I’m glad the Bruins put me on that type of program because I can feel the results on the ice.”
Alexander Khokhlachev is also having himself a season down in Providence. With 11 points (2 goals 9 assists) Khokhlachev is among the league leaders in points in the AHL.
You may remember Khokhlachev from this summer after telling the Bruins to put up, or shut up.
“This is my last year of contract,” Khokhlachev said. “You know, I’m 22 already. If they don’t give me the chance to play, why I’m here?” and it certainly seems that the young Russian has had enough with Providence and the AHL. “I will not play in Providence all my life. They told me just wait for your chance and I’m still waiting for it.”
With the recent offensive success from the Bruins, it may be time to part ways with the former 2011 second round draft choice. The Bruins should use KoKo’s AHL success to try and put together a package to acquire a top 4 defensemen.
For the best coverage of the NHL and the Boston Bruins Follow @MikeGrinnell_ and check out his blogonESPNNHRadio.com. Also tune into the ESPN New Hampshire Bruins Pregame Show an hour before game time. (Picture via BostonBruins.com)