The saying goes that “it’s just one game” – a preseason one at that – but the Bruins’ top offensive line of David Krejci, Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic already have fans excited about the possibilities for the coming season after combining for six points to lead the black and gold to a 6-3 victory against the Canadiens tonight. Rookie Malcolm Subban also stopped all 12 shots he faced in his goaltending debut, and three third period goals by the Bruins put the nail in the Montreal coffin to get the new season started on the right foot.
The excitement started early as just eight minutes into the game Iginla tallied his first goal of the night on the power play, one-timing a Lucic feed past Habs netminder Carey Price from the left circle. Price was mediocre on the evening, allowing three goals on 22 shots before giving way to Robert Mayer for the second half of the game.
At the other end of the ice Bruins starting goaltender Chad Johnson, fighting to earn the back-up role behind Tuukka Rask, had problems of his own. A bad rebound led to a Travis Moen goal minutes later, and after free agent signing Nick Johnson gave the Bruins the lead with yet another man advantage strike, the B’s netminder was beat cleanly by a P.K. Subban slap shot just a minute into the second period to draw the game back to even at 2-2.
The teams would trade goals in the early half of the second period with Nick Johnson tallying his second goal of the evening before a Max Pacioretty goal drew the game even just shy of the halfway mark. Malcolm Subban would come in for planned relief of Johnson after the Pacioretty goal to make his Bruins debut, while Mayer stepped in for Price in the Montreal net.
Despite a slow start to the third period that saw the Canadiens start to grind their way into a few offensive chances, it was Iginla who once again put the Bruins in the driver’s seat by ripping a loose puck in the slot past Mayer for what would become the eventual game winning goal.
The Bruins power play also continued to click as the Canadiens took back to back penalties shortly after, with David Krejci and Zach Trotman both hammering respective slap shots past Mayer to put the game out of reach. The Boston man advantage would finish the night with an impressive four goals on six opportunities, a pleasant surprise given the team’s struggles in recent seasons. The B’s also finished with 40 shots on the Montreal net, another encouraging sign from a team who had a number of players join the “high glass crew” last season.
Malcolm Subban earned the victory in the Boston net by keeping the Habs off the board for the remainder of the night, his only hiccup being a delay of game/illegal touching penalty for playing the puck outside of the trapezoid behind the net.
The Bruins are back in action tomorrow night as they head to Washington to face the Capitals. Expect members of Group A to get the call for the second game, which unfortunately won’t be available locally on TV or radio (at the moment at least).
First Line Dominance (mostly)
As mentioned, the Krejci-Lucic-Iginla trio would finish with a combined six points, including three assists by Lucic. Despite the three helpers Lucic was probably the quietest of the three, finishing with just one hit, no shots, and two dumb penalties. Iginla meanwhile launched a team high six shots on net, a number of them coming on third period power plays, and added two blocked shots to round out his night of 17:41 of ice time. The trio did look like they built chemistry as the game went on, a welcome sight for those expecting big things from the big line this season. Krejci looked slick with the puck on his stick all night, and looked comfortable at his new point position on the power play. He still stinks on faceoffs though (5/15, 33%).
It should be noted however that the Habs didn’t exactly ice a highly skilled lineup tonight, so keep an eye on the defensive end of the ice with these three. The first goal came off a failed clear by Iginla, and Moen beat both Iginla and Lucic to the front of the net for the tap-in. Given the overall lack of speed on this line, they may have some trouble with the smaller, faster Canadiens forwards over the course of the season.
Aside from the top line, there were a number of other Bruins that had good showings. Daniel Paille was flying all night, finishing with four shots on net, two hits and two blocked shots in nearly 13 minutes of ice, though he’s yet to figure out the mysterious science of the breakaway goal. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski were battling it out on the blueline, with Krug tallying three helpers to Bartkowski’s two. Both looked pretty strong on the puck and comfortable on the man advantage. Free agent signing Nick Johnson tallied two goals, and Ryan Spooner, who earned himself call-ups to the big club last season, had great wheels as well and finished with an assist in nearly 14 minutes of ice.
Work To Do
On the other side of things, there were few underwhelming performances for the black and gold as well, led by none other than Chad Johnson. He’s going to have to be better than the .625 save percentage he posted tonight, stopping just five of eight shots. He’s didn’t face much action early which could’ve worked against him, but the Bruins need a reliable backup after letting Anton Khudobin walk during the offseason. Expect Niklas Svedberg to get a look tomorrow night. Rookie Anthony Camara, who some had pushing for a roster spot, was quiet with just a single shot in ten and a half minutes of ice. He was credited with three hits but didn’t really make much noise physically when he was out. Matt Fraser, acquired as part of the Seguin/Eriksson deal, was also quiet with just two shots. Known for his quick shot and offensive talent, he didn’t do much to draw attention to himself and wasn’t overly noticeable. He’ll need to step it up if he hopes to earn the open third line spot.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
I don’t really know what to make of Carl Soderberg’s game tonight. He was actually quite good working in the corners and controlling the puck, and had a pretty good partial breakaway chance before he was chased down by Max Pacioretty. He also saw power play and penalty kill minutes and looked decent, but like Lucic he took two bad penalties and disappeared a little for stretches. Overall I’m encouraged because he had more positive plays than negative ones, but it will be interesting to see how he looks in his next game. He’s had a strong camp and should be ready for a third line spot, but the jury is still out on just what type of contributions he will make.