BruinsLeafs: 5 from the First

BruinsLeafs: 5 from the First

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comTORONTO Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs by a 2-1 score after 20 minutes of action at Air Canada Centre.1)The Bruins are definitely facing a highly motivated Leafs bunch playing for their playoff life tonight: plenty of bodies colliding and hits thrown over the first 20 minutes. Nathan Horton finished the period with four registered hits and even Tyler Seguin logged a pair of hits against the Leafs in a chippy period where the Bruins played with good effort bursts but didnt exactly play error-free hockey. Milan Lucic and Keith Aulie were caught way behind the play pushing and shoving on Schenns first goal for Toronto after Aulie came in high on a Nathan Horton hit seconds earlier.2)First NHL goal for Nazem Kadri on a weird play in front of the net. Kadri let a shot go, and it appeared that Tim Thomas was screened when Adam McQuaid and Darryl Boyce wrestled for position in front of the net.3)Up and down first period for McQuaid, who was in Thomas vision path on the second goal and was basically thrown out of the way by Luke Schenn on an end-to-end rush that resulted in a goal for Luke Schenn. Then McQuaid atoned for the first defensive breakdown by potting a goal when he flipped a puck to the crease area and watched it go off Dion Phaneufs skate and into the open net behind James Reimer. McQuaid led all players with three shots on net in the first period.4)Andrew Ference played 3:59 in the first period and looked healthy enough, but finished with a minus-2 on the ice as Adam McQuaids defenseman partner. Thats a tough welcome back after three weeks away from the action for the veteran blueliner.5)A nice tribute for Tomas Kaberle 12 minutes into the first period as the Air Canada Centre game ops people put on a long video tribute for the former Leafs defenseman, and had U2s Where the Streets Have No Name playing in the background. Kaberle got a warm, extended ovation from the normally sedate Leafs Nation, and waved to the crowd several times in warm appreciation.

Backes: Bruins are back to playing 'winning hockey'

Backes: Bruins are back to playing 'winning hockey'

BOSTON -- It felt very much like a welcome return to the good parts of the Bruce Cassidy Era on Tuesday night.

The Bruins jumped out to a strong, early lead, utilized strong, disciplined defense and good goaltending and closed things out strongly in the third period in a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden. The win really allows last weekend’s big two points against the Islanders to be a turning point, and gives the Black and Gold a three-point cushion for a playoff spot over a Tampa Bay Lightning group that just doesn’t seem to be going away.

The victory also improved the Bruins to 8-3 in 11 games at home under Cassidy, and that’s a big key knowing that they’ll be playing 5-of-6 games at the Garden to close out this season’s playoff push.

“We had a couple of boo-boos there in front of our net where we probably got going a little too quick, but at the end of the day, [it was] more positives than negatives, and that’s kind of how we want to play everywhere, but particularly in this building,” said Cassidy. “Let’s establish the energy level, be on our toes, be ready to play, and again, that was something we weren’t pleased with the last game in here. I addressed that, and that was one of the most satisfying responses from [Tuesday’s] home game.”

So it looks and sounds safe at this point to say the Bruins are out of their mini-tailspin and this won’t be the same kind of epic collapse that doomed the Black and Gold in each of the last couple of seasons. The Bruins blocked 24 shots, they put four goals on the board and they never trailed in a game against a Western Conference playoff team.

Sure, they might still miss the cut when it’s all said and done. But they’ve got a 70.3 percent chance of making the playoffs with just six games remaining in the season, so that’s about as good a position as they could hope for at this point.

“It was certainly a vindication of how we were playing on the Island [New York], and it wasn’t highlight reel or pretty – maybe Pasta [David Pastrnak] had a couple nice moves coming down the wall,” said David Backes. “But we made a lot of hard plays, blocked a lot of hard shots when we needed it, and that’s winning hockey. It showed up tonight in droves from a lot of different guys. It’s no secret that’s how you win games this time of year. It was awesome to see from all the guys.”

Now the Bruins need to simply bottle up the compete level and execution they showed on Tuesday night, and repeat it six more times while looking to snap the two year spell that’s had Boston out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Sweeney: McAvoy will sign ATO, play in Providence

Sweeney: McAvoy will sign ATO, play in Providence

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told reporters Wednesday that Charlie McAvoy will join the Providence Bruins on an amateur tryout. 

The move ends McAvoy’s college career after two seasons at Boston University. The B’s draft McAvoy, a right shot defenseman, with the 14th overall pick in last year’s draft. 

McAvoy may not play in Boston this season, for if he signs an entry level contract and plays even one game, the first year of the three-year contract will be burned. That would make him a restricted free agent (due for a bigger contract) after the 2018-19 season rather than after the 2019-20 season. 

The best example of a college player to take McAvoy’s current path is Zach Werenski, who signed an ATO with the Lake Erie Monsters last spring after his sophomore year at Michigan. Werenski, now in the first year of his entry level deal with the Blue Jackets, is one of the more promising young NHL defensemen. 

In two seasons at BU, McAvoy totaled eight goals and 43 assists for 51 points.