The Boston Bruins view themselves as a playoff team, as well they should.
In such a case, games against the Buffalo Sabres (rebuilding), Detroit Red Wings (up-and-coming but not “there” yet) and the New Jersey Devils (decimated roster) should have led to three wins, and they did.
It could be easy to nitpick. The win over Buffalo required a two-goal, third-period comeback in order to force overtime. The Devils had what felt like half their AHL roster amid injuries and COVID-19 issues, and it still took the Bruins until the final minutes to secure the win.
Boston, though, hasn’t established itself as a team thus far where the nits can be picked with its wins. And, as Bruce Cassidy readily admits, the Bruins are winning now in situations they otherwise might not have earlier in the season.
“I think earlier this year, that’s one I’m not sure we win, right?” the head coach said Tuesday night. “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 common theme in all of these wins was that although the Bruins either were down or gave up a back-breaking goal at some point, they had enough resolve to win.
Boston hadn’t played a game in 16 days when it faced Buffalo. That the Bruins weren’t more lethargic at times is a surprise.
In the second leg of a home-road back-to-back, they went down 1-0 against the Red Wings before rattling off five unanswered goals. If you’re a believer in statement wins, pummeling Detroit in its building to pass them in the standings with five games still in hand absolutely qualifies.
The Devils game Boston should have put away earlier and likely would have if not for some bad timing and luck leading to Demon Severson’s game-tying goal in the third period. That happens, but it did pave the way for David Pastrnak to snap his goal-scoring drought. Take the victories where you can.
Boston is about to play, basically, every other night for the next nearly four months. Getting into rock fights three or four times a week, especially against teams it should be beating more handily, is not sustainable. But the Bruins are finding ways to win, even if it isn’t pretty. In a time where the Bruins are trying to find chemistry and get their legs beneath them, that counts for something, no matter the opponent.
The last three games were a good way for the Bruins to gut-check. A good foundation has been set coming out of a chaotic few weeks. The Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals are now on deck, with the latter two games on the road, so we’re about to see where the Bruins really are at.