By Stephen Whyno
WASHINGTON (AP) — Moments after embracing former Boston captain Zdeno Chara within the handshake line, Patrice Bergeron acknowledged he hadn’t thought a lot about what was totally different about successful his first collection with the “C” on his chest.
For Bergeron and the Bruins, it was simply one other step ahead.
“We’re a staff the place it feels particular to win collectively, everybody chipping in and contributing,” he mentioned. “I’m simply blissful we acquired the win and we completed it off and we will look ahead and transfer on to spherical two.”
They’re transferring on to face both the Pittsburgh Penguins or New York Islanders after steamrolling the Washington Capitals in 5 video games. Three went to additional time, together with Boston’s solely loss within the collection opener, however because the video games went on it was clear which staff was superior.
“Recreation by sport we acquired higher,” mentioned goaltender Tuukka Rask, who stopped 159 of 169 pictures. “We had everyone going, which was enormous. Everyone contributed, offensively, defensively. We did loads of little issues proper. I feel that in all probability ended up being the distinction. We had been only a higher staff throughout.”
It didn’t use to be that manner between the Bruins and Capitals. Washington gained 14 in a row towards Boston from 2014-19 however bowed out within the first spherical for the third consecutive 12 months since successful the Stanley Cup in 2018.
The Bruins, who got here inside one victory in Recreation 7 towards St. Louis from hoisting the Cup in 2019, have proven a capability to tweak and alter sufficient to stay a perennial championship contender. After letting Chara and Torey Krug depart in free company, Boston superior additional than both of them, regardless of accidents on protection that examined the group’s depth.
Credit score Bergeron for a lot of that. Not solely did he rating twice within the collection clincher, however supplied the mandatory management for a gaggle that appears far totally different from journeys to the ultimate in 2013 or 2019, not to mention Boston’s Cup staff in 2011.
“That is his first 12 months with the ‘C’ on (his jersey), so he needs to form of put his signature on this membership,” coach Bruce Cassidy mentioned. “I’m certain he’s digging slightly bit deeper if that’s even attainable for him. I feel he’s a man that exhibits up each night time and provides it every thing he’s acquired.”
NEXT TEAM UP
Cassidy mentioned the Bruins will “watch with curiosity” because the Penguins and Islanders claw out the rest of their East Division first-round collection. Due to all divisional play this postseason, there’s no sophisticated seeding math wanted to find out who Boston will face subsequent — simply when the subsequent collection begins.
Pittsburgh and New York are tied at two video games apiece. The earliest the season can finish is Wednesday, so there’s time to kill.
“You play the hand you’re dealt,” Cassidy mentioned. “You all the time need to shut out collection as shortly as you may. It simply takes away any stress and any chance of shedding, clearly, and guys get to relaxation up slightly bit, so I’m OK with it.”
One cause the time without work could possibly be good for Boston is the chance to get injured defensemen Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril again sooner or later. Zboril has been out for 2 weeks, and Lauzon injured his proper hand in Recreation 1.
Basic supervisor Don Sweeney mentioned Monday that whereas Kevan Miller continues to be within the restoration course of after a excessive hit from Washington’s Dmitry Orlov on Friday, there’s hope that Lauzon and Zboril can play within the second spherical. The Bruins counted on midseason waiver pickup Jarred Tinordi to step in for the collection clincher.
That clearly wasn’t the plan when Krug left for St. Louis and Chara signed with Washington when the Bruins brass advised him he wasn’t assured a daily function. Defenseman Steven Kampfer gained’t be accessible, both, after hand surgical procedure, so Cassidy and his workers might need to get artistic for a minimum of the beginning of the subsequent collection.
BEATING THE CAPS
After shedding Recreation 1 in additional time on a deflection aim, the Bruins made a couple of changes to take over the collection. They started cracking the Capitals’ impartial zone stress and exploited a man-to-man defensive system.
Nowhere was that clearer than on Pastrnak’s highlight-reel aim in Recreation 5, when he reduce to the online unbothered and slid the puck previous goaltender Ilya Samsonov. It was a mixture of movie research and talent that made the play occur.
“I used to be positively shocked,” Pastrnak mentioned. “I simply noticed a form of free lane to take it to the online. Tried it and it labored this time.”
And the Bruins made a concerted effort to leverage their talent towards an enormous, heavy opponent. They couldn’t beat up the Capitals, however they beat them by dictating the type of sport that was performed.
“That’s what we talked about towards an enormous staff: getting inside, after which utilizing your pace to separate,” Cassidy mentioned. “They’ve acquired some lengthy D, however in the event you get in your horse and are prepared to assault and separate and use your 1-on-1 expertise, you’ll get a couple of appears. We did, and we had been in a position to end them.”