How the Bruins prevented Nashville from getting a new-coach bump

Matt Kalman
January 07, 2020 - 11:40 pm

Two seemingly unbeatable forces collided Tuesday night in Nashville, and something had to give.

In one corner: the Bruins brought almost two dozen of their moms on their one-game road trip to root them on, and having won just four of their past 15 games Boston didn’t want to waste the opportunity to impress the ladies.

In the other corner: one day after firing coach Peter Laviolette the Predators took the ice for the first time under the leadership of former Boston University player and New Jersey Devils coach John Hynes. Having lost four of their past five games (1-1-3), the Predators were hoping to get the new coach kick in the butt teams typically enjoy.

After 60 minutes, new coach strategizing and motivating proved no match for motherly love. The final was Bruins 6, Predators 2.

But more important than the ladies in the Bruins sweaters adorned with the name and number of each one’s son was the Bruins’ determination and raised hockey IQ. They won the battles in the trenches, with Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie working hard down low to set up Danton Heinen’s first goal in eight games. Jake DeBrusk retrieved a puck with an opponent on his back to set up Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal. Chris Wagner drove to the net and got a bounce of a Par Lindholm shot of his body for his first goal in 13 games.

Six Bruins scored, 14 had at least one point and every line was accounted for. Rather than resting on a one-goal lead, a formula that’s failed the Bruins in recent weeks, they extended the lead and took a 3-1 lead into the third period.

 Defensively the Bruins’ penalty-kill streak ended at 25 straight power play extinguished, but when the Predators had a chance to get back into the game with 1:56 of 5-on-3 time in the third period, with Zdeno Chara and John Moore in the box, Boston killed off the penalty, led of course by Bergeron, Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy. Boston managed the puck well and broke out of its own end with more ease than in its past handful of games.

Equally as important was the physicality the Bruins brought against a Predators squad that has a handful of heavy players. Pay no attention to the eight hits Nashville’s stats crew credit to the Bruins. Boston threw the body around the way we’ve come to expect when the Bruins are playing their best. Sean Kuraly took a boarding penalty, which isn’t usually advisable, but it was a sign he was ready to be engaged. The Bruins killed it off.

And when Predators forward Yakov Trenin nearly crossed the line with a big hit on McAvoy, Zdeno Chara immediately fought the Russian. Trenin jostled Chara’s knees with a blow to the head, but Chara landed a couple as well, and the message was sent that the Bruins wouldn’t get pushed around if the Predators were thinking of impressing their new coach with rough stuff since they couldn’t do it with hockey.

The Bruins’ run of mediocrity won’t be fully over until they string together a few of these types of victories. The schedule gets a little more rugged in the next week, and Tampa Bay is on a hot streak that could get it into shouting distance in the Atlantic Division.

The only things the Bruins proved in the Music City is that they remember how to play the way they need to be successful after nearly a month of lackadaisical play, and when you’re looking to break a slump it’s better to call your mom than a replacement coach.

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