UNIONDALE, N.Y. The sleepy effort and near-loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week might have been the best thing that happened to the Bruins prior to their 6-0 win against the Islanders on Saturday.
With big divisional tilts against the Montreal Canadiens, who humbled the Bruins with a home-and-home sweep at the end of October, and the Buffalo Sabres, who will be looking for revenge after the Milan LucicRyan Miller brouhaha last weekend, the Black and Gold skaters wouldnt be blamed if they thoroughly overlooked a date with the Isles at Nassau Coliseum.
After all, the Bruins had already nailed the Islanders by a 6-3 score earlier two weeks ago, and New York is having serious issues with two wins in their last 10 games to go along with a minus-21 goal differential. The Islanders have taken their rightful place in the Eastern Conference basement, and it wouldnt have been shocking to see the Bruins feel their way through the first 20 minutes.
We know when they score first that theyre a good hockey team, and we wanted to get that first goal and build off it, said Chris Kelly, who potted a pair of goals and enjoyed his first three point game with the Bruins. We wanted to start this road trip off on the right foot. The Islanders have good offensive weapons and if we overlooked them they were going to bury us. We needed a solid 60-minute effort and we got it.
Instead the Bruins slugged the Islanders with a series of haymaker shots and knocked Isles goaltender Rick DiPietro out of the game with three goals on the strength of 13 shots. The second period effort wasnt quite as effective in sealing New Yorks fate, but the Bruins were so good in the first 20 minutes that the Islanders never mounted a serious comeback in Tim Thomas 28th career shutout in the 6-0 win on Long Island. After the game the Bs pointed to the Columbus game as the kind of fortunate wakeup call that reminded them just how easily another hockey team can creep up and bit them if they become unsuspecting enough.
You cant just let up on a team, or have any letdown, said Patrice Bergeron, who scored the teams first goal and finished with a plus-1 in 16:46 of ice time. The parody in the league is too good to do so. It was important for us to have a good effort and bounce back from that last game against Columbus.
Any hockey team needs those kinds of on-ice reminders from the leagues whipping boys, and New York certainly qualifies after monumental struggles over the last few years have kept them at the bottom of the East standings. Claude Juliens philosophy headed into the game was for the Bruins to hit the Islanders quickly with a flurry in the first period that would discourage the team in rapid fashion, and thats exactly how it played out when Tyler Seguin cut through Steve Staios and Mark Streit before dishing to Patrice Bergeron for the quick goal.
DiPietros breakdown followed with goals allowed to Nathan Horton and Chris Kelly, and the Bruins were off-and-running while laughing at the notion of a trap game while Boston fans chanted Lets Go Bruins at an emptying Nassau Coliseum.
These kinds of teams are always hard to play against, said Claude Julien. That might not have shown because we played them tight tonight and respected their game. The only way we were going to get back into the race was to get going on some kind of a streak here. It doesnt matter how many games weve won here because were still just hanging on to the last playoff spot or slipping out of it. Weve got to get ourselves into a better playoff position than that.
Now its on to the Montreal and Buffalo legs of the road trip, and games that wont be taking the Bruins by surprise. Julien will be happy to know the Bs find themselves in the seventh spot among the top eight playoff teams in the East after their eighth straight victory, and have a whole point of breathing room.
The Bs will need to keep the pedal down over the next two grudge match road games if they hope to solidify that in time for their return trip home on Thanksgiving.