BOSTON, MA - With the amount of injuries and players out of the Bruins' lineup, you might think there would be more bumps along the way.
But, as the Bruins flooded the ice for their postgame celebration following a 2-0 shutout of the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night, it marked their sixth straight win at home, and gave them a 5-1-0 record in their past six games.
Captain Zdeno Chara powered home two goals on the power play, both assisted by Jarome Iginla and David Krejci. Tuukka Rask earned his third shutout of the season with 21 saves.
It was all the Bruins needed.
Following the game, the spotlight was on "Big Zee" and his burgeoning role on the man-advantage this season. Six of his nine goals (which tie him with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson for the league lead among defensemen) have come on the power play.
"Well I think you saw tonight – you said he was a huge man – but he’s also got a huge reach. He finds those pucks," said Head Coach Claude Julien, who has talked many times before about the defenseman being more than just a 6-foot-9 frame. He's agile and has good hands around the net.
"But he’s also been pretty good at reading off the guys who have the puck and sometimes it’s not about being a screen; sometimes it’s about being an outlet. So he’s reading off guys pretty well. So it’s been an adjustment for him going from the back end to the front end but he seems to be getting more and more comfortable."
"I’m just trying to work hard and be there for loose pucks and create traffic and finding some openings," said Chara. "So really the main thing is to just work extremely hard."
But it's really not like The Captain to want to talk about himself, even if he did score both goals, and could have made a bid for the second hat trick of his career.
His first goal came off a slap pass from Krejci in the second period, following a nice, simple feed from Iginla down low. Chara's second tally in the third came off a rebound after a one-timed blast from Iginla. The movement on their power play allows them to switch positions and support each other.
"We’re just trying to work on it in practice, to read off each other. Wherever the puck is, you just need to fill the spots and positions and that doesn’t always necessarily mean that I have to be in front," said Chara.
"We can rotate; the other game in Calgary David was in front, was able to tip the puck and score. Iggy, or whoever is in that closest position, is going to need to fill that spot so we are now able to read off of each other much better than we were early on. That’s a much easier play than always running back to our spots and always maybe being out of position."
For the past week, the Bruins had been constantly "finding ways to win" amidst a tough road trip, with injuries, sickness and players missing from the lineup.
On Tuesday night, aside from needing to put their road legs behind them after a subpar first period, the Bruins stayed in control for most of the game.
"Tuuks did play great all game, but I thought in the first period he gave us a chance to come out of a period that we weren’t quite as good in and be 0-0," said Iginla. "Then I thought we got going and I thought we could have had more goals. I thought the chances that we had, especially in the second, we could have had more than a one goal lead."
The Bruins outshot the Flames 15-4 in that middle frame.
"So, it felt like a pretty consistent game and it felt good because sometimes these are, for whatever reason, hard games to play coming off a trip. So, it was a good win."
Rask only faced 21 shots, but he made the saves, and - as they say - gave his team a chance to win.
"He’s been solid for us all year long and he’s having another great year," said Julien. "So I can’t say enough of how well he’s played."
"It wasn’t pretty all the time, it was kind of just pucks bouncing all over the place but we got the goals and power plays, stepped up, and Zee got those goals we needed and killed a couple of penalties too there," said Rask.
"It wasn’t pretty but it was a good effort from everybody and we need that."