Bruins top forward line finally explodes

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Bruins top forward line finally explodes

WASHINGTON The two biggest problems with the Bruins in their playoff series against the Capitals have been major ones: 1) Tim Thomas was being outplayed by his rookie counterpart Braden Holtby and 2) Bostons best offensive forwards were putting up more zeroes than can be found in Donald Trumps bank account.

Both trends needed to be reversed if the Bruins were going to taste success on the road in Game 6 and bring the series back to their own barn on Wednesday night.

Thats exactly what happened for the Black and Gold.

Thomas was much more like himself in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Capitals at the Verizon Center, and the trio of Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and David Krejci took things over in the second half of the game.

Im sure it helps. There is definitely a lot demanded out of the top forwards, but rightfully so because theyve shown what theyre capable of, said Andrew Ference. As a competitive team and an honest team you just ask that each guy play up to their capabilities. I think guys on our team took the right path and rose to the challenge. They didnt shrink away and it was great to see as a teammate.

Rich Peverley had been a one-man band through the first five games of the playoffs when it comes to the top flight offensive forwards on the Bruins roster, and some were wondering if Boston was simply missing Nathan Horton too much to generate any offense.

Apparently thats not the case.

"We really thought going into tonights game we needed to get production," Seguin said. "I thought we played well. The guys that were getting production this season really had a good game. There werent too many good bounces so far in the series so to see it happen tonight . . . to see the guys finally be rewarded is definitely nice.

The rewards were bountiful for all three players on the line and underscored the smart coaching decision by Claude Julien to load up his top line with offensive skill even though it might cause him a little D-zone anxiety from time-to-time. But for a team thats struggled to score more than two goals per game in the playoffs, a little more offense is just what the hockey doctor ordered.

Lucic finished with two assists -- including a deft pass to Seguin for the overtime game-winner -- in his first real offensive appearance of the series.

David Krejci ended a string of five invisible offensive performances by potting his first goal of the series in the first period, and creating the game-winning play when he schooled Nicklas Backstrom in his own end of the ice.

And of course Seguin brought the heat and the speed by turning his skating game up a gear and placing all kinds of pressure on a Washington defense that wasnt ready to handle it.

Much was expected from that trio of players, and they didnt deliver until Game 6 of the series against Washington. But better late than never.

Because of their Game 6 performances, the Bruins -- with their postseason experience and some suddenly hot offensive players -- are looking very formidable.

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' third line has been reborn under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, and the players are now openly admitting they desperately needed a change.

Claude Julien never trusted Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes enough defensively to play them together, but this line has blossomed under Cassidy: Six goals, 15 points and a plus-11 in seven games. They’ve survived in the defensive zone by rarely playing there. Instead, they push the pace, make plays to keep the puck out of the D-zone and, most importantly, keep producing the secondary offense that wasn’t there in the first 55 games of the season. 

No one has been freed from the shackles more than Spooner, who is back playing his natural center position after being forced to play left wing under Julien. The 25-year-old said Tuesday that getting a clean slate with a new coach has been extremely beneficial to him, and that perhaps he didn't always love playing for the guy now minding the bench in Montreal. 

“I felt like the last coach ... he just didn’t really trust me,” said Spooner, who has two goals and six points along with a plus-1 rating in seven games post-Julien. “It might've been kind of on me not really playing to the potential that I have, but at the same time . . . I just don’t think that he really liked me as a player. It’s kind of in the past now. It’s just a part of the game. It’s up to me to just go out there and just play, and not have that stuff in the back of my mind. 

“I just kind of have to go out there and believe in myself and I think at times I wasn’t really going out there and doing that. Maybe that’s something to learn. This sport has ups and downs, and I’ve had my downs. You learn that you can just sort of push through it. If you do that then things can be good.”

Spooner has 10 goals and 33 points along with a minus-3 this season, and could potentially surpass last year's numbers (13-36-49) in his second full season. 

Most felt that the speedy, skilled Spooner would be one of the big beneficiaries of the move from Julien to Cassidy, and now he’s showing that with a new lease on life in Boston. 

Tuesday, Feb. 28: Nothing coming easy for Habs

Tuesday, Feb. 28: Nothing coming easy for Habs

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while it’s all happening around the NHL world ahead of tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Eric Engels says that a torturous February shows that nothing will come easy for the Montreal Canadiens.

*Some raw locker room video from the Florida Panthers with local D-man Keith Yandle holding court with reporters.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has some early thoughts, and some praise, for the Washington Capitals landing puck-moving D-man and big ticket rental player Kevin Shattenkirk.

*The Toronto Maple Leafs up their playoff cred by landing gritty, big third-line center Brian Boyle ahead of the trade deadline.

*Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are the city of Chicago’s longest-tenured teammates having spent the last 12 years together with the Blackhawks.

*Patrice Bergeron and Toucher and Rich are getting together for their 10th annual Cuts for a Cause, which will be on March 27.

https://www.nhl.com/bruins/community/cuts-for-a-cause

*For something completely different: Jimmy Kimmel gives his perspective of the debacle that went down at the end of the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/watch-jimmy-kimmel-on-oscars-best-picture-award-mistake-w469552