It was a short two-game road trip for the Boston Bruins, but it yielded two very different results.
Playing two of their final four road games in the regular season against two playoff-bound teams, the Black and Gold earned a split of the two games. Tuesday night, the Bruins snapped the St. Louis Blues’ nine-game winning streak with a hard-fought, but well-earned 3-2 overtime victory. Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, despite outplaying the hosts and registering 30 shots through the first two periods, they found themselves in a 3-0 hole and were never able to recover in a 4-0 loss.
Five games remain in the 2021-22 regular season for the Bruins, three at home and two on the road. They are currently holding the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but will not know their first-round opponent in the postseason until after their regular-season finale on April 29. As Boston heads home to play the New York Rangers Saturday afternoon, here are three takeaways from the two-game road trip against the Blues and Penguins.
Jake & Two Charlie’s Shine in OT Again
Two of the last three Bruins wins have come in overtime and both wins have two things in common, they were on the road and the trio of Jake DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle, and Charlie McAvoy were on the ice. In a 2-1 overtime win on April 8 against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, Coyle buried the game-winner off a pass from DeBrusk from behind the net. Tuesday night, the trio struck again.
Tied 2-2 in overtime against the Blues, coach Bruce Cassidy sent out the same trio to begin the extra session and they finished off the game in 48 seconds when DeBrusk set up McAvoy in the slot and his wrist shot beat Blues’ goalie Ville Husso under the crossbar to snap the St. Louis winning streak.
In the playoffs, the 3-on-3 format is gone and they go 5-on-5, but in the remaining five regular-season games, this is a trio that should see a lot of time together with the connection they have formed if any games end up in overtime.
Reilly Struggles Continue With Penalties
When the Bruins acquired Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline, Mike Reilly was the first left-shot defenseman that found himself as a healthy scratch. Since Lindholm has been sidelined, Reilly has found himself in the lineup, but his recent struggles and untimely penalties could very well send him back to being a healthy scratch when Lindholm returns.
Tuesday night against the Blues and the Black and Gold on the power play, Reilly took a high sticking penalty when his stick got up in the face of Brayden Schenn behind the Boston net after St. Louis cleared the puck. Since his return on March 31, Reilly has been whistled for six penalties, with four of them being high sticking. For a team that has been struggling with Lindholm out on defense, taking stick penalties is not going to sit well with Cassidy.
Bruins’ Sloppiness Against Penguins Costly
Five days after beating the Penguins at the TD Garden, the Bruins dropped the final game on the trip to the Penguins, but it was more about how they gave up the goals in what can be described as another frustrating loss. These goals allowed will not make any highlight reel that Cassidy makes.
In the first period, the Bruins made a bad, actually, a very bad, line change and Pittsburgh took full advantage. After the Bruins flipped the puck out to center ice, four Bruins’ skated to the bench for a line change and perfect tic-tac-toe passing play from defenseman Mike Matheson in front of his own bench to Rickard Rakell, to Sidney Crosby who sent Jake Guentzel in behind Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk alone on Jeremy Swayman. Guentzel was able to beat the Bruins goalie between the legs.
Jason Zucker gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead six minutes into the second period, before Guentzel scored again, this time off a Bruins turnover in the defensive end. Brandon Carlo controlled a puck that was flipped into zone, but gave the puck away to Kris Letang near the left circle. Letang made a cross-ice pass to Guentzel who got Swayman out of position and buried a wrist shot for a 3-0 lead.
As the playoffs approach, there are several areas the Bruins need to clean up, but turnovers in the defensive end might be at the top of that list.
To add to the frustration against the Penguins, goalie Casey DeSmith stopped everything that Boston threw at him. DeSmith, despite leaving several rebounds, stopped all 52 shots he faced for the shutout. It was another game where the Bruins were able to get plenty of shots on the net, but they were frustrated by DeSmith.
With five games remaining on the schedule, there is plenty left to play for the Bruins as they head toward the playoffs. There is also plenty to clean up in all areas of their game. They don’t face an easy schedule as three of their final five opponents are playoff-bound.