The Boston Bruins managed well without Patrice Bergeron in the lineup, but it’s always nice to get your best player back into the lineup.
The perennial Selke contender missed 16 games with a chest injury before returning to the lineup on Saturday. Boston had gone 9-6-1 in his absence, including a 5-2-0 clip in their past seven games. The Bruins are deep, so missing their top center was more on the side of an inconvenience than it was a devastating blow.
That said, having Bergeron back in the lineup was a welcomed addition that the Bruins took immediate advantage of against the recently woeful and injured Nashville Predators.
Bergeron had 26 points in 19 games before he was sidelined and appeared as if he had played only a couple of days ago, scoring twice, started a tic-tac-toe on the game-winner that Brad Marchand scored and then added his second apple on David Pastrnak‘s goal to make it 4-2.
Add another ailment to the list, as the Bruins announced that Bergeron will be re-evaluated in about four weeks after suffering a “a rib and sternoclavicular injury” on Friday. The perennial Selke candidate appeared to suffer that injury during a collision with dark horse Selke candidate Radek Faksa of the Dallas Stars:
Boston has shown a pretty good knack for fighting through injuries, as Bergeron missed his fair share of time last season. That said, the B’s are pretty top-heavy these days, so losing big names is discouraging.
Also discouraging: the Atlantic Division looks ferocious right now; the Bruins are ranked fifth in the division with 25 points. While they have a halfway decent lead for the East’s second wild card spot (three points ahead of the Islanders, though New York has a game in hand), that could evaporate during this depleted month.
If Bruce Cassidy can guide the Bruins through this stretch relatively unscathed, then he deserves even more credit as an underrated NHL head coach.
Do note that the Panthers haven’t confirmed or denied that report just yet. Considering how nasty the injury looked, it’s no surprise that he’ll need surgery. Here’s hoping he can return to NHL action eventually as the same player – or close to his peak level – because he’s been an underrated gem for Florida for some time.
Speaking of Florida, it’s fair to wonder what the Panthers should do in response to this awful bit of news.
The Athletic’s George Richards brings up a good point (sub required) that the Panthers might want to call up Henrik Borgstrom, a promising former-first rounder (23rd overall in 2016). In all honesty, it was surprising that:
A) Borgstrom had such a short leash with Florida to begin with, as he only received four games of NHL action, only averaging 12:40 in ice time.
And B) that it would even take an injury for him to get another look. The 21-year-old’s been fantastic in the AHL, scoring 14 points in as many games.
There aren’t many silver linings to Florida losing Trocheck, but perhaps Borgstrom can pick up some of the slack?
The Stars should probably work on being more aggressive, yet losing Bishop might hit the brakes on such an idea. They’re currently averaging 29.8 shots on goal per game, the eighth-lowest mark in the NHL, while averaging about one more allowed per night.
The Capitals largely avoided injuries – for some unknown or at least unspoken reasons – under Barry Trotz. The bill seems to be coming now that Todd Reirden is in control.
Washington got Braden Holtby back in its thrilling win against Montreal on Monday, yet T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov are still banged-up. Add Brooks Orpik to that injured list, as the team announced that he’ll miss four-to-six weeks after undergoing “a successful outpatient arthroscopic surgical procedure on his right knee.”
Orpik, 38, appeared in 10 games so far in 2018-19, although he hasn’t suited up for the Capitals since Oct. 27. It’s a tough break for the veteran defenseman, although some might argue that he’s at the point in his career where losing him isn’t much of a deficit for Washington.
Canadiens defenseman Noah Juulsen is out indefinitely with a facial fracture after taking two pucks to the face against the Capitals on Monday. About the only good news there is that he won’t need surgery, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.
The Bruins top line of Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand has picked up right where it left off last season. Bergeron gets the first-star spot on Monday after scoring his fourth career hat trick and adding a helper in a four-point night. Pastrnak was exceptional as well in the Bruins 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators, compiling his own four-point game with two goals and two assists. Marchand chipped in three helpers for good measure.
A new team meant a new start for Lehner, who opened up in the preseason about a difficult time in his personal life. Coming from the Buffalo Sabres after being signed as a free agent this summer, Lehner had to wait his turn to get his first start in the Islanders’ crease after Thomas Greiss got off to a good start, stopping 45-of-46 in New York’s season opener. But after Greiss was shelled against the Nashville Predators, Lehner was given the green light for his debut. Lehner appeared more than ready was ready Monday, stopping all 35 shots sent his way by a potent San Jose Sharks team to post his ninth career shutout.
Here’s a stat: Not since the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13 have the Sabres had a record better than .500. That’s incredible in its own right, and the reason why they were able to break out of that funk has been the stellar play of Eichel to start the season. Eichel fired home two more goals for his second and third of the season to lift the Sabres past the mighty Vegas Golden Knights. Buffalo had a tough outing in their season opener against the Boston Bruins but have rebounded, beating the New York Rangers and the Golden Knights to carve out an early 2-1-0 record. Eichel has been a factor in both wins after picking up a goal and an assist in the Rangers game. He’s billed as a stud and now has some decent talent around him to strut his stuff. Don’t sleep on Buffalo this season.
Highlights of the Night:
Bergeron’s backhand sauce is filthy here after leading the rush down the ice. He had a hat trick on the day, but this was arguably his best play from the win.
Eichel had himself a day, and this forehand-to-backhand sorcery was too good for Marc-Andre Fleury to ever have a chance to save.
Point scored his third goal of the series to erase David Krejci‘s first-period tally, slotting home after making a patient play around Tuukka Rask.
Point, who finished with seven points in the series, helped the Lightning rebound from their 6-2 Game 1 defeat with a four-point night, a performance that one could argue was a turning point in the series. The Lightning cruised from there, allowing eight goals during their four-game winning streak.
Point’s time-on-ice jumped by over two minutes from Game 1 to Game 5, and it was well-deserved.
Contributions from Tampa’s top line weren’t as relevant as they were against the New Jersey Devils. Kucherov had 10 points in that series but just two points in the second round. Stamkos had a pivotal goal in Game 4 to force overtime, but had only an empty-netter otherwise.
Miller made his presence felt in Game 5, first by knocking David Backes out of the game with a crushing hit in the second period, and then minutes later, offering up the go-ahead goal that stood as the game-winner.
Boston, meanwhile, couldn’t find much in the way of scoring outside of Game 1.
Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak combined four just four goals over the final four games of the series and secondary scoring from the Bruins was virtually non-existent, ultimately spelling the end to Boston’s season.
The Lightning now waits for the winner between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Washington leads the series 3-2 after a 6-3 win on Saturday.
Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Boston Bruins 3 OT (Tampa leads series 3-1):Nikita Kucherov scored his first goal of the series, Steven Stamkos scored his first even-strength goal in 21 games and Dan Girardi provided the heroics in overtime as the Lightning pushed the Bruins to the brink of playoff elimination with their win. Boston’s top line contributed all three goals, but it wasn’t enough on the night. Oh, and Brad Marchand licked a fellow player again.
Vegas Golden Knights 4, San Jose Sharks 3 (Vegas leads series 3-2): It all looked good around the midway point of the third period. Vegas owned a 4-0 lead and were heading to an easy win when the Sharks attacked. San Jose brought the game to 4-3 in just over six minutes to make the game oh-so-interesting, at least until an empty net goal by Jonathan Marchessault ended the comeback attempt. Alex Tuch provided two goals, including the game-winner.
Alex Tuch, Golden Knights: Tuch had two goals on four shots for the Golden Knights, including an important — and very pretty — a third-period goal that ended up being the game-winner.
Steven Stamkos, Lightning: Stamkos’ third-period goal was not only a very important goal (it tied the game and forced overtime, where the Lightning won), it was his first even-strength marker in 21 games. Stamkos has been quiet in the playoffs while the team’s second line has provided a lot of firepower, so perhaps the goal will spark more out of the sniper going forward.
Patrice Bergeron, Bruins: Sure, the Bruins lost, but it wasn’t for lack of trying from Bergeron. The Selke finalist tied the game in the second period and then scored the go-ahead goal shorthanded in the third period. Bergeron had seven shots on goal and won 73 percent of the faceoffs he took.