Bruce Cassidy said what everyone was thinking.
“I think earlier this year, that’s one I’m not sure we win, right?” the Boston Bruins head coach admitted Tuesday night after their exciting win over the New Jersey Devils.
For a full 60 minutes the Devils didn’t make it easy. The Bruins had the lead on four separate occasions, but gave up frustrating breakaway goals and couldn’t hold on. It wasn’t until the final minute of play where the they managed to get more than one goal of insurance — finally securing the 5-3 victory.
“We were letting some of these get away,” Bruce Cassidy said. “We couldn’t reel it in. So obviously we’ve corrected some of that.”
The Bruins now are on a three-game win streak, slowly but surely getting back players from COVID-19 protocols and finding stride in the New Year.
Scoring came from everywhere, but production was led by the fourth line pairing of Trent Frederick (one goal), Curtis Lazar (one goal, one assist) and Tomá? Nosek (one assist) — who combined four four points.
“I thought they were our best line tonight so I tried to get them out there a lot as much as possible without losing the other guys and I think they recognize that,” Cassidy said. “And recognize that hey, this is a night for us to contribute in an offensive fashion, not just killing penalties and being physical and doing some of the dirty work.
Here are more takeaways from Bruins-Devils:
— It was a long December for David Pastrnak. Really long. The Bruins winger hadn’t scored a goal since Nov. 30 but got back to his old ways against the Devils for the game-winner in the third that put Boston up 4-3.
“I don’t think some of our top guys had their best tonight — it’s gonna happen,” Cassidy said of how Pastrnak turned his game around. “Support people were excellent and then one of your top guys comes through when you need them, so I mean, that’s a good formula.”
— Oskar Steen scored the first goal of his NHL career in a creative way. With the puck stuck on top of the net in the second, the 23-year-old batted it up with his stick and whacked it in.
He got run on the third line against the Devils in an increased role Tuesday, and hopefully the Bruins don’t want to send him back down after their roster is replenished from COVID-19 protocols. Frankly, he’d be making that plan quite difficult.
“It was a clever play, little composure,” Cassidy said. “Happy for him.”
— The silver linings of the Bruins’ extended COVID-19 break are kind of shining through, as guys like Steen and Trent Frederic make cases for more time, sending pressure up Boston’s roster hierarchy. It might make for difficult decisions down the road for Cassidy and the front office, but these young players are making their presence known in the locker room.
“All of a sudden Lazar now who was out has a more effective game because we see someone going into a spot,” Cassidy said. “So I think those are good things creating competition in your lineup. So that’s what that part brings with a younger guy. A little enthusiasm, a guy that’s excited to play when you get in these stretches where you got a lot of games in a row. I think sometimes that can carry a little bit give the other guys juice.”
— The Bruins look to add to their three-game streak and can do it at home in front of the fans at TD Garden on Thursday.