Bruins Notes: Boston Becoming Team It Envisioned Entering Season

The Bruins have gotten a whole lot of depth scoring the last two games

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You could make any number of excuses as to why the Boston Bruins played below expectations to start the season. There were injuries, ineffectiveness from depth players, wonky scheduling and then, perhaps most notably, COVID-19 issues.

But after more than two weeks away from game action, the Bruins are looking like the team they thought they could be.

The Bruins officially secured fourth place in the Atlantic Division with a convincing 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. That comes on the heels of a 4-3 comeback win over the Buffalo Sabres.

In the last two games, we’ve seen goals from Erik Haula, Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek and Trent Frederic. That is a collection of names we haven’t heard from often in the goal-scoring department in a two-game stretch. However, when Don Sweeney built the Bruins roster in the offseason and Bruce Cassidy mapped out where all the pieces would fit, it’s clear this was the type of depth they were eyeing up front

“I certainly felt we’d score more (going into the season). We had some guys that had proven they could score,” Cassidy said over Zoom after the win. “So, you’re starting to see, yes, a product of how we envisioned it. Sometimes it takes a little while to bake. … Hopefully most of (the injury and COVID challenges) are behind us and we can stick with the program and see it a little more in the long-term.”

Now, the question is how they can ensure they stay consistent. That’s to be determined, but they most certainly have to be pleased with the direction they currently are heading.

Here are some other notes from Sunday’s Bruins-Red Wings game.

— Haula had a second-period snipe that proved to be the game-winning goal Sunday. It’s been a tumultuous season for the veteran forward, who has moved from center to wing and back to center a few times, while also having the line he’s on consistently changed.

That resulted in a healthy scratch earlier in the season, but after getting that “reset”, as he put it, Haula started to get on the right track.

Now with the opportunity to center two high-end players in Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak, he’s really starting to feel it.

— Oskar Steen certainly is making a case to stay in Boston’s lineup.

The young winger has seized every opportunity he’s been given at the NHL level this season. Steen drew into the lineup at the last minute Sunday in place of a banged up Curtis Lazar. He showed up on the scoresheet with a third-period assist on Nosek’s goal, but long before that he was making some sort of impact nearly any time he went over the boards.

“Yeah, we’ve got a decision to make when it comes to him,” Cassidy said of Steen. “Those are good decisions when guys push their way up. A little bit of youth in the lineup does every team well at times.”

Cassidy said that Lazar could have played if the Bruins really needed him to, so a decision on Steen’s spot in the lineup could be coming as soon as Tuesday provided Lazar’s health doesn’t decline.

— Jeremy Swayman only needed to make 23 saves Sunday, but he turned away a few key shots in the second period when the game still was in the balance.

Because of the limited action, his most noteworthy moment when he gave a jab to Sam Gagner in the second period, which sparked a fracas that the netminder later shared his side of.

“I didn’t like the situation, I was getting held on the back of the helmet, so I’m going to stand up for myself. At the same time, if he’s going to mess with my guys, I’m going to make sure I do my part and protect my guys and I thought we did a good job of that.”

Swayman got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the play, the first time he could remember getting such a penalty. And ever even-keeled, Swayman pushed back when asked if that was the hottest he’s ever been.

“I wouldn’t say I was hot,” Swayman said. “I wanted to make sure he was staying away from my teammates. It wasn’t me getting hot-headed or anything, I was just making sure I was doing my part.”

Fair.

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