It was the most consistent effort the Boston Bruins (5-2-0) have had all season. Twelve different Bruins had a point in the game as Boston defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning (5-3-0) on the road 5-0. What might be even more impressive than the balance on offense, was the defensive effort against a Lightning team that coming into the night was fourth in the NHL averaging over three goals a game.
It didn’t take long for the Bruins to get on the board, scoring 01:32 in the first period. David Krejci timed a pass perfectly as he hit Milan Lucic in stride entering the offensive zone. Lucic carried the puck down the left wing towards goal, forcing Lightning goalie Ben Bishop to slide to his side of the ice to save a potential shot. After Bishop committed to the right side of the net, Lucic made a nice centering pass back to Krejci for the goal.
Leading 1-0 after the first period, the Bruins had their best offensive period of the season, scoring three times in the second period. The first goal of the period was the result of the Bruins simply getting the puck on net. Adam Mcquaid, known more for his pugilistic talents than his offensive skill, took a simple wrist shot from the blue line that deflected off a Lightning player, changed direction and got by Bishop. McQuaid, who was a healthy scratch in Boston’s last game against the Panthers, did his best to prove to the coaching staff he belongs among the top-six defensemen.
The second goal of the period came with the new look second line on the ice. The line of Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith has not been together that long, but Bergeron, who is the catalyst of the line, has proven he can be successful no matter who he is playing with. The biggest reason for Bergeron’s continued productivity despite changes to his line mates is the high effort he brings on a shift to shift basis. His knack to make good decisions and outwork the opposing team was on display when he netted his second goal of the season, 14:52 into the second period. The Lightning were seemingly in good position with both defensemen back to cover Smith and Eriksson, but Bergeron out skated his man, Lightning left winger Ryan Malone, opening him up to a pass from Smith, which Bergeron proceeded to shoot five-hole for the goal.
Less than a minute later, Boston took away any hope the Lightning had of mounting a comeback, scoring their fourth goal of the game.
Boston’s second line isn’t the only one that has seen personnel changes early on in the season. While the third line has been the bruins most consistent, recent offensive struggles have forced coach Claude Julien to try and find a combination to spark more offensive production. One of those moves was to insert Carl Soderberg onto the third line after he was cleared to play after missing the teams first six games with an ankle injury. The move paid off as Soderberg, along with Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand, moved the puck well all night, including on Kelly’s goal 15:47 in the second.
On the goal, Marchand did what he does best, making tight radius turns and shoulder fakes to keep possession in the offensive zone corner. As Marchand was working to keep the puck, Kelly made himself available for a pass and showed good patience with the puck, waiting for the goalie to get down in the butterfly so he could skate around him and score on the open net.
The fourth goal that Ben Bishop allowed was also the last he would be given a chance to allow as he was pulled for backup Anders Lindback. While Lindback wasn’t quite as bad as Bishop, he did look bad on a wrist shot by Shawn Thorton, another Bruin that is known more for his toughness than his scoring ability. Thorton’s goal was his first of the year and the last of the game.
The Bruins 5-0 win over a Lightning team that had won five of their last six games was their best win of the short season. For a team that has struggled scoring the puck and capitalizing on scoring chances, netting five goals on only twenty-two shots (22.7%) was extremely impressive. Coach Julien shed some light on what his team was doing out on the ice that led to some offensive success. ”I thought the pace and the tempo of our game was good tonight too. We were moving the puck quickly and we skated from start to finish.”
The key to Boston having success on offense is no secret, and Julien’s assessment of his team after the game shows he too knows what that key is. The Bruins must bring their skating game from the opening puck drop and make quick, crisp passes. Boston may not have some of the top end scoring like a Pittsburgh or a Detroit, but their strength is their ability to roll all four lines and still have success. That balance was on display against Tampa Bay with each line getting on the score sheet.
The Bruins next game is against another division opponent, the Buffalo Sabres (1-8-1). Although the Sabres are struggling, their goalie Ryan Miller still has the ability to win a game by standing on his head. The Bruins will need to continue their balanced play if they hope to get a couple past the perennial Vezena trophy contender Miller. The game is set for 8pm at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York and will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network as part of their ‘Wednesday Night Rivalry’ series.