Takeaways: Bruins honor “Big Bad” era with decisive win over Habs

Bruins

Here’s what we learned as the Bruins improve to 13-1-2 on the year.

Boston Bruins’ Trent Frederic (11) celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens with Hampus Lindholm (27), Brandon Carlo (25) and Jake DeBrusk (74) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) AP

The Boston Bruins hardly had a chance to digest the Milan Lucic news before Saturday’s Original Six matchup with the Montreal Canadiens.

Hours later, Jim Montgomery’s squad attempted to handle the business at hand. And precisely seven days after their 3-2 overtime setback at the Bell Centre, the Bruins delivered one of their more well-rounded efforts of the season on a night where the franchise honored the “Big Bad Bruins” era and their two Stanley Cup victories in 1970 and ’72.

Charlie McAvoy’s one-timer during Boston’s two-man advantage got the Bruins off and running at 7:11 of their dominant opening frame.

Trent Fredric capped off Boston’s resounding start after tipping Brandon Carlo’s point shot past Jake Allen with under 40 ticks left in the first.

The Bruins extended their lead to 3-0 after Pavel Zacha’s shot deflected off Jordan Harris’ stick a mere 5:18 into the middle stanza. But things nearly got away from them after a defensive lapse led to Juraj Slafkovsky notching his second of the season at 13:04.

Following a timely penalty kill, Frederic exited the box to a breakaway attempt, promptly notching his second of the night just 2:26 after Slafkovsky’s marker.

James van Riemsdyk provided the Bruins with more insurance in the third, delivering a backhanded tally at the doorstep for Boston’s second power-play tally at 5:39.

The Bruins kept Jeremy Swayman’s crease clean, stymying Montreal’s transition setup and limiting secondary scoring chances. They executed their game plan to a T, earning a decisive 5-2 victory over their hated rivals.

Here’s what we learned as the Bruins improve to 13-1-2 on the year.

Bruins put forth one of their most complete 60-minute efforts.

Through 16 games, the Bruins showcased incremental improvements while learning on the fly.

But more often than not, they’ve relied on their dynamic tandem of Swayman and Linus Ullmark to bail them out. Both encountered a bit of a heavier workload in their starts, but they’ve picked up where they left off from a season ago.

Even with their impressive record, the Bruins needed those multiple high-danger stops from Swayman and Ullmark. Their 5v5 offense became a work in progress in the first year without Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Their defensive structure also endured some leaks in the season’s first month, especially off the rush.

The speedy Canadiens took advantage of that last week. But after a few days off, the Bruins found their groove again, only allowing 22 shots on net.

Indeed, the Bruins bounced back with a complete 60-minute effort, winning a majority of puck battles in open ice and along the walls, while preventing Montreal from generating quality primary looks off the rush and limiting their secondary scoring chances.

“Absolutely, and for 60 minutes, too,” Montgomery said of Boston’s 60-minute effort. “I thought we played the right way for 60 minutes the way we want to play. You’re going to give up scoring chances because you’re in the NHL and the other teams are good too.”

Frederic had his motor going.

The Bruins received significant offensive contributions throughout the lineup. The top line of Brad Marchand, Pavel Zacha and David Pastrnak each hit the scoresheet, combining for a goal and five assists.

As much as the top line carried the load, the Bruins also received timely secondary scoring in Saturday’s win, especially out of Frederic. The fourth-year power forward notched his fifth career two-goal outing — all coming in the last 12 months.

“Moving his feet and being strong and heavy,” Montgomery said of what caught his eye on Frederic. “I thought early in the game, he took pucks wide, gained the zone and held on to it. When he’s doing those things, I know he’s on top of his game.”

On a near-perfect outing, the Bruins encountered some blips in their 60-minute effort. And Frederic himself had a hiccup in the second, committing a high-sticking infraction just 14 seconds after Slafkovsky cut Boston’s lead to 3-1.

With a bit of a bitter taste, Frederic atoned for his blunder coming out of the penalty box. An assertive Frederic found himself on a breakaway on the heels of a successful penalty kill.

Instead of the Habs gaining more momentum, Frederic delivered a back-breaking tally for his second of the night, helping the Bruins regain their three-goal cushion.

“[I was] a little pissed off, and had some fresh wheels,” Frederic said of the sequence leading to his breakaway tally.

Over his five-year Boston tenure, the 25-year-old showcased a knack for dragging his team into battle. And his increased offensive production continues to complement his hard-nosed skillset.

The Bruins paid an appropriate tribute to the “Big Bad” era.

Bobby Orr never had a chance to raise a Stanley Cup banner in 1970 or 1972. Nor did Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers, Johnny Bucyk, Derek Sanderson, or the creative cast of characters of the “Big Bad Bruins.”

The Bruins began their 1970-71 and 72-73 campaigns with the banners already hung high above the ice at the old Boston Garden. At that time, the only pregame “ceremony” at the former Causeway Street barn came via cigarette smoke and chatter from the Gallery Gods high above the rinkside.

Five decades later, the Bruins paid an appropriate tribute to their most prolific era.

Boston’s legends began the day sharing their wisdom and stories for a morning meet and greet with the current generation of Bruins.

“We have a real appreciation and respect for those guys,” Marchand said after notching the 500th and 501st assists of his career. “It was incredible to listen to them earlier tell stories and talk about the differences in the game … the rinks, the rooms and the fans, and what their lives were day to day versus ours.”

But the best was yet to come.

Knowing they hadn’t raised a banner, the Bruins lowered the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup banners from the rafters. A lengthy line of former B’s from that era lined up along the carpet to gather for their deserved banner-raising ceremony.

The current core of Bruins took everything in. By puck drop, they had all the inspiration they needed.

“It really was fortunate to see them lift the banners,” Marchand added. “You don’t realize how fortunate you are to go through each and every thing that comes with winning the Cup, and one of those things is raising the banner. Those days are over just as quick as they happen. It’s a blur as you’re going through it. So, for those guys to miss out on it back then and for them to have that opportunity, it was special to be a part of and special to see, and I’m happy for them.”


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