What we learned from Rangers vs. Capitals

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What we learned from Rangers vs. Capitals

As if Bruins fans didnt need any more evidence that their team simply didnt have it mentally or emotionally or otherwise in the offensive firepower department the Caps 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 1 hammered it home.

The Rangers were able to expose 22-year-old Braden Holtby as the rookie goaltender he is while giving up soft goals, and New York had the ferocity and hunger that the Bruins didnt in their seven games.

Ryan Callahan had six hits in the first period against the Caps in the game at Madison Square Garden, and was playing like an animal let out of its cage for the first time. Artem Anisimov carried Mike Green on his back and powered the puck to the net while beating Holtby to the post, and thats exactly the kind of thing the Bruins couldnt do in seven games: expose Green for the defensive liability that he in his own zone. Instead Green and Roman Hamrlik were surprisingly effective against the Bruins forwards.

Some of that came down to Milan Lucic never being out on the ice against that pairing rather than the tough defensive duo of Karl Alzner or John Carlson. But some of that came down to the Bruins lacking the proper mindset heading into the series something they admitted fully after the playoffs were over.

The bottom line is this with the Bruins: they arent successful unless theyre a grinding blue collar team that overwhelms other clubs with their energy, pounding physicality and overwhelming depth.

If they dont have those things and they had none of those three against the Capitals then they become a very average team with a good defensive system and goaltender trying to win 2-1 hockey games all the time. Thats exactly what they were in falling to Washington last week.

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Mike Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont debate if it is time for the Bruins to send a message to Tuukka Rask and have Anton Khudobin get the starts in net.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.