Last night the Boston Bruins battled it out with the defensive masterpiece that is the New York Islanders. The Bruins had the pleasure of closing out the last game of the Islanders’ season with a rough overtime loss at the hands of Taylor Hall. The game was a tactical battle throughout and left many things to be understood from the game as a whole. Here are three takeaways from last night’s battle at TD Garden.
Faceoff Department Continues to Pay Dividends
Last night the Center core of the Bruins continued to impress. The Bruins won a whopping 33 faceoffs to 16, as they won 67.3% of all faceoffs. This was not a surprise, as the Bruins are first in the league in faceoff percentage. Faceoffs allow a team to direct the way a game plays out in their favour, which worked out well in last night’s fixture with the result.
Patrice Bergeron is aging like fine wine as he leads the NHL in faceoff percentage this season. The center core is carrying more than their weight as they continue to play well and push the Bruins in the right direction every night. Heading into the playoffs, Bruins’ fans should be excited to see their center core maintaining their top-notch record at the faceoff circle. Let’s hope they can keep up the good work come playoff time.
Getting Pucks on Net
Last night, the Bruins showed once again that they value taking shots first, no matter the circumstance. Last night marked the 12th straight game that the Bruins had at least 30 shots against the team they played. They tallied 38 shots last night, overpowering the Islanders’ measly tally of 18 shots. This overflow of shots proved to be too much for Islanders’ keepers Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov.
There is no secret as to how getting pucks on net yields benefits for a team. The more shots on net, the more scoring chances created whether that be through rebounds or the shots themselves. Bruins’ fans should be ecstatic at the fact that the team seems to have getting shots on net as a priority since it delivers more fast-paced exciting hockey. Let’s hope they can carry this “shots first” mentality come playoff time.
Jeremy Swayman Needs to Get the Nod More Often
Last night was underwhelming between the pipes, with Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask having trouble turning aside all 18 shots he faced. Rask made 16 saves on 18 shots sporting a .889 save percentage. This is alarming as it meant the goalie had back-to-back games where he didn’t register a save percentage above .900. In his last two starts, the Finn has let in seven goals on 41 shots for an average save percentage of .829.
With this recent underwhelming play from the Bruins’ starter, this might usher in an opportunity for rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman come playoff time. He has been terrific in his debut season as he averages a .946 save percentage, a 1.44 goals-against average, and two shutouts with a 7-2-0 record this season. There is no doubt that the rookie can hold his own in the crease, and he might be a more viable option come playoff time if Rask’s underwhelming play continues. The lack of playoff experience may be concerning when talking about Swayman, but when a goalie is on a roll, there is little that can stop him.
Ending it on a Good Note
Last night was refreshing to see the team handle a defensive powerhouse like the Islanders’ as well as they did. Tonight the Bruins will play their final game of the regular season against the Washington Capitals as they look to close out the regular season on a good note. This matchup is exciting since the Bruins’ first-round playoff opponent is the Capitals. This matchup should give us an idea of what type of hockey will be played during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. What is your prediction for the first round of the playoffs?