BOSTON — The Bruins have been frustratingly inconsistent this season.
At times, the B’s have played at an elite level with convincing wins over top contenders such as the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning. Maintaining that high level of play has been a real challenge, as evidenced by Boston’s four skids of three or more games (four more than last season) and 13-14-2 record following a win.
But when the team has been fully healthy, or at least close to it, the B’s have proven they’re capable of beating just about any opponent.
This makes the limited hours before Monday’s NHL trade deadline an interesting time for general manager Peter Chiarelli. Given how wide open the Eastern Conference is this campaign, a move or two at the deadline could propel the Bruins on a deep playoff run. Boston enters the deadline with three wins in its last four games after Saturday night’s 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.
“We’ve got a good team in here,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said when asked about the trade deadline. “We believe in this group of guys. It’s part of the game when guys move around and guys come in and out. Regardless of what happens, we’re going to remain confident within our team.
“We can beat any team in this league on any given night. We know that, especially when our team’s healthy. If someone comes in, great. If they don’t, then that’s great too. We’re going to work with what we have and do the best we can.
— The Bruins made top trade target Antoine Vermette look bad Saturday night, particularly on Marchand’s first-period goal. The Marchand-Bergeron-Smith line matched up against Vermette’s line for more than six minutes of even-strength ice time, and the Boston trio controlled more than 60 percent of even-strength shot attempts.
The Coyotes traded Vermette to the Chicago Blackhawks late Saturday night for the steep price of a 2015 first-round pick and a top defensive prospect.
— One of the benefits of rookie forwards Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak playing with Milan Lucic is they keep the veteran winger’s feet moving and force him to play at a faster tempo because of their extraordinary speed and skating ability. Lucic is at his best when he’s skating hard and playing with a high level of energy, and this young duo brings that out in him.
“We’ve been playing well since we’ve been put together here,” Lucic said of his new linemates. “Just talk about playing with confidence and playing with the pucks, and also don’t forget we need to be strong defensively and that will turn into offensive chances.
“I think as a threesome we’ve done a really good job of that so far, and I think you just stay the course. You can’t get overconfident or cocky just because we’ve had a couple good games.”
— Zdeno Chara scored Boston’s fourth goal with a powerful slap shot from just above the right faceoff circle on a second-period power play.
The Bruins have scored four power-play goals in the last six games, and changing up the units for the Feb. 18 game against the Edmonton Oilers was the turning point.
“I thought we had to do something,” Chara said. “Obviously we had only one unit going, and the other one was not really clicking for whatever reasons and after we mix them up now we have, I think, pretty strong two units.
“I think our unit saw most of the power play time (versus Arizona). We got one goal, and we had some really good chances and good zone time. Again, something that we got to continue working on and keep getting better.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images