The NHL season is back, and for the Boston Bruins, that meant traveling to Newark, New Jersey, to play a two-game series against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. In an entertaining, action-packed two games, both teams captured three points apiece, with the Bruins taking the first game Thursday 3-2 in a shootout and the Devils winning the second game 2-1 in overtime on Saturday.
Both teams played with spectacular energy, and these games showed how exciting the new division schedule will be moving forward with some intense battles. With that, let’s take a gander at the Bruins, who stood out to start the season.
Marchand & Bergeron Show Up
Boston’s stars picked up right where they left off last season to start the 2021 campaign. Veteran winger Brad Marchand scored the first Bruin goal of the season on the power play on Thursday. He also added the game-winning shootout goal when he beat Devils’ goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood on an excellent wrist shot. Marchand also showed his versatility on the ice, adding two assists in the series and playing a combined 40 minutes in two games. He’s been a staple for the Bruins’ offense for years and was quite possibly the best player on the ice for Boston in both games.
Bruins’ 20th captain in franchise history, Patrice Bergeron, came through for the black and yellow. He showed tremendous leadership, and it’s understood why he was named the team’s captain last week. It was a two-point series for Bergeron with a goal and an assist. In the second period, on a beautiful pass from Marchand, Bergeron’s snipe evened the score at 1-1 on Saturday. The goal was shorthanded and gave Boston new life to finish off the period.
The Bruins generated offensive opportunities in both games, but the bottom line is this, they struggled to put the puck in the net. Some of the credit goes to Blackwood for making key saves for the Devils, but Boston’s inability to finish hurt them in this series. However, both Marchand and Bergeron led the surge on both sides of the ice, which was exciting to see in the first two games.
Rask & Halak Come Up Large
How about the play of the Bruins goaltending to start the season! Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak both saw time, and quite frankly, were dominant. Coming into this season, Rask took some criticism for not participating in the bubble NHL restart a season ago and played with a vengeance Thursday night. He picked up the win, stopping 20 of 22 shots, with a few huge stops late in the third period, overtime, and in the shootout. Rask stopped all three Devils in the shootout to help the team secure their first victory.
Halak started in between the posts Saturday afternoon and was even more impressive than Rask. The Bruins might not have been in the game if it wasn’t for Halak’s effort in net. He stopped 31 of 33 Devils shots, and his best moments came in the third period to keep the game tied. New Jersey won the game with 1.7 seconds left in overtime, but Halak proved that he’s a reliable goaltender that the Bruins can count on.
McAvoy & Grzelcyk Look to Rebound
The Bruins defensively we’re pretty solid in this series, but it seemed that the Devils were the aggressor the last five periods. Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk led the defense to an impressive start, setting the tone physically and putting pressure in the offensive zone as well.
However, the penalties were a problem for the Bruins, with a combined 23 penalty minutes as a team and 10 combined between these two players. Those penalties lost some momentum and are something Boston will have to clean up moving forward. McAvoy and Grzelcyk are great players and will look to bounce back against a tough Islanders team up next.
Both the Bruins and Devils deserve to come out of these two games with three points. Both teams showed maximum effort and should be excited with the direction they are headed. The East Division will be one of the most competitive in the entire NHL, and every point counts, so the Bruins need to figure it out their even-strength play. They did not score a goal at even strength and will look to get their first against the Islanders Monday night.