It is amazing how much one result can change the whole tenor of a team’s road trip in the NHL. Boston (14-8-3) was clearly slumping after a disappointing 3-2 shootout loss to the Oilers (11-15-2) lastWednesday andfollowed that up witha brutal 5-4 overtime loss to Calgary (10-14-2) on Friday. The B’s went into Saturday night’s game in Vancouver (9-11-8) on the verge of a winless week, so of course they promptly responded with one of their best efforts of the season: a complete 4-0 whitewashing of the Canucks. If the Bruins have taught us anything so far in 2015-16, it is to always expect the unexpected.
Dropping those two particular points to two of the worst teams in the league was not what Boston head coach Claude Julien or anyone associated with the club was looking for, but realisticallyfour out of six points on a Western Canada road trip is probably what should have been the rational goal. Despite those losses, the B’s still have one of the best road records in the NHL (9-2-2) and they remain in fourth place in the Atlantic Division (7-1-2 in their last 10 games). This should be an interesting rest of theweek for the Black and Gold as they visit Montreal (19-6-3) on Wednesday (7:30, NBCSN), then they host the Panthers (13-10-4) on Saturday afternoon (1, NESN).
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Goaltender Tuukka Rask (9-7-3, .906 save percentage, 2.72 goals against average) picked up his third shutout of the season (tied for secondin the NHL) against Vancouver and he only had to make 17 saves as Boston played some outstanding team defense in front of him for once.
“That should be something that we take away from this game: that you don’t have to play run-and-gun [as they did in Calgary]to score a lot of goals," Rask said. "We were on them all over the ice and that takes a lot of offense away from the other team, so [the Vancouver game] thewas a great example of Bruins hockey.”
One other Bruin who had a noteworthy trip was left wing Brad Marchand, who seemed to be in the middle of everything. He scored two goals against the Flames (including one on a penalty shot), then he added another goal and was plus-3 againsthis old nemesis inthe Canucks. He also was speared in garbage time by Vancouver’s Brandon Prust, a low-rent move that cost the former Canadien a fine of $5,000. Marchand is putting together a really nice campaign as he leads his team in both goals (13) and plus/minus (plus-12). He’s the only Bruin in double-digits in either statistical category.