BOSTON, MA — Following a 3-1 season-opening victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday evening, the Boston Bruins were on the ice again on Saturday for their first showdown of the year against their newly-minted division rivals; the Detroit Red Wings. In their second outing of the season, I think it’s safe to say we saw many improvements for the Black and Gold, who were much sharper in all areas of the game than they were in the season-opener. After being tied at one through twenty minutes of action, the Bruins pulled away with a trio of unanswered goals, en route to a 4-1 home-ice victory over the Red Wings.
Just fifteen seconds after Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall was whistled for the game’s first penalty, Boston’s revamped power-play struck for their first goal of the 2013-14 season. A nifty turn-around feed from Milan Lucic made its way onto the stick of Torey Krug at the top of the slot, and his slapshot blast made it through a screen and past Red Wings’ goaltender Jimmy Howard, putting the B’s ahead 1-0. However, less than seven minutes later, Detroit’s top-line would pull the Wings even at one on captain Henrik Zetterberg’s second goal of the season.
A mere 36 seconds into the second period, the Bruins would regain the lead on Brad Marchand’s first tally of the season. After taking a pass from Johnny Boychuk, Marchand used his tremendous speed and agility to beat a pair of Red Wing defenders down the left wing side before firing a quick wrist shot past Howard on the short-side.
Despite only playing together for parts of the preseason and now two regular season contests, Boston’s third forward unit of Chris Kelly, Reilly Smith, and Jordan Caron has been the team’s most consistent line this season. On seemingly every shift, the trio has made smart plays with the puck and created scoring chances with a relentless forechecking attack. Midway through the second frame, it was Caron who would cash-in on the unit’s first goal of the season, after taking a beautiful back-hand drop pass from Smith and blasting a one-timer into the back of the net. The goal, which put Boston ahead by a pair against a Red Wings’ squad playing the second half of a back-to-back, firmly swung momentum into the corner of the B’s, and should also provide the 22-year-old former first round draft choice with a much-needed confidence boost.
After many believed it to be simply a bit of preseason experimentation on the part of head coach Claude Julien, the Bruins have utilized captain Zdeno Chara at the center position while on the man-advantage in each of the team’s first two games. This new-found strategy clearly paid huge dividends for the B’s on Saturday, as Chara’s placement on the power-play directly led to not one, but two Boston goals. Krug’s first period tally was a direct result of the 6-foot-9 Slovakian behemoth standing immediately in-front of Jimmy Howard’s crease. In the third period, Chara made his presence known once again, executing a beautiful back-hand dangle and top-shelf finish to put the Bruins ahead by a commanding 4-1 score. The B’s would control play for the duration of the third period, as they were able to hold on and skate away with their second-straight victory.
Ben’s Three Stars of the Night:
2) Jordan Caron (1 Goal/3 Shots/Plus-1 Rating)
3) Milan Lucic (2 Assists/3 Hits)
Looking Ahead: The Bruins will be off until Thursday night, when they welcome Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche to Boston for a showdown at TD Garden.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.