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Bruins suddenly charging toward the playoffs

Tuukka Rask and the Bruins have been playing a different brand of hockey since BruGetty Images

While it hasn’t been quite as stunning as La La Land winning Best Picture at the Oscars to only have it snatched away and given to Moonlight moments later, the Bruins’ (32-24-6) recent turnaround has been a revelation in its own right. Even the most loyal fans have to admit that they couldn’t have predicted this would happen as the team has gone 6-1-0 under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Boston ended a road trip that lasted over a week with a satisfying 6-3 victory in Dallas (24-28-10) on Sunday afternoon. The Bruins went 3-1 at San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Dallas - which is a great week for any team in the NHL. Under Cassidy, the B’s have outscored their opponents 29-16. The six goals scored on Sunday tied a season-high as center Patrice Bergeron (2 goals, 1 assist) had his first multi-goal game of the season. Like his club, Bergeron has been on fire of late with six goals and 11 assists recorded in his last 12 games.

Left wing Brad Marchand (1 goal, 2 assists) and defenseman Torey Krug (3 assists) were the other standouts in a contest that barely resembled the typical last game of a road trip forgettable effort. David Backes fought Jamie Benn right off the opening whistle (old-time hockey style!) and Kevan Miller dropped the gloves with Curtis McKenzie in the second period. Finally, Tuukka Rask (33 saves) made one of his best stops of the season on Dallas left wing Patrick Sharp in the second period.

Under Cassidy, Backes has gotten the team’s equivalent of a golden ticket-a much coveted spot on a line with Bergeron and Marchand.

“I’ve said it since I got here: those guys have a special chemistry in terms of how they support each other and know where each other are,” noted Backes about his new linemates. “We’re clicking right now, not just our line but plenty of guys are contributing to the wins. Not just all on the scoresheet, doing the little things. It’s winning hockey and we need to keep this going.”

The Bruins' last home game was over two weeks ago (the 4-0 whitewashing of Montreal on Feb. 12) so Boston gets to settle in for three tilts at TD Garden this week: vs. lowly Arizona (22-32-7) on Tuesday (7, NESN), vs. the excellent Rangers (40-20-2) on Thursday (7, NESN) and vs. going-nowhere New Jersey (25-25-11) on Saturday (7, NESN). Every point is precious as eight points separate the first-place Canadiens (33-21-8) in the Atlantic Division and fifth-place Florida (28-23-10). The Bruins are currently in third-place but only one point ahead of Toronto (28-20-13) who has a game in hand.

Don’t forget that the NHL’s trade deadline is on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and unlike the NBA, important moves tend to happen rather than endless rumors that turn out to be false. You have to wonder how much Boston’s recent stellar play will impact GM Don Sweeney’s desire to make a trade or two.

 
 
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