"I think it’s always been there. I think what’s happened is that, you know, we haven’t seen a lot of life in the first half [of the season] or just never had the same lineup," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "It just seemed like it was hard to get things going."
"You look back and you see who wasn’t there and the impact those guys have on your hockey club. But, you know, it’s starting to come around and sometimes you need a little bit of time for that."
Though the Bruins didn't have the best start to the game, and fell down 1-0 off a tally from Steven Stamkos following a defensive breakdown, they overcame that deficit and then a 2-1 deficit to continue their four-game win streak and eight-game point streak.
Brad Marchand scored on a delayed penalty call, David Pastrnak recorded his second straight two-goal game and MIlan Lucic worked for a bounce to go the Bruins' way by driving hard to the net for his ninth of the season.
"Our players are feeling it right now, and when you feel it, you’ve got more energy," said Julien.
The Bruins had pace to their game, and weren't afraid to stick up for themselves and each other. Adam McQuaid nearly dropped the gloves with J.T. Brown, and though Brown wasn't a taker in the first period, he mixed it up with David Krejci in the third, when the B's had a 4-2 lead.
"I was frustrated - I felt like he hit me when I didn’t have the puck in kind of awkward position so I didn’t like that and things escalated pretty quickly," said Krejci.
Milan Lucic skated over right away during the dust up. McQuaid later made his presence felt. Earlier in the third period, Zdeno Chara tussled with Cedric Paquette after the Bolts forward gave him a cross-check to the back (Chara was already headed to the box for boarding). Paquette received a shot to the jaw for his efforts.
"When you’re feeling it, there’s no doubt you’re a little bit more inclined to step in and do the things that you have to do," said Julien. "This is more, I think, the team we’ve seen for a long time."
That energy extends to the rest of the Bruins' game.
"We all know that when we have that passion, that energy and emotions in our game, we’re a better team," said Tuukka Rask, who stopped 16 of 19 shots in the win. "It’s a fine line - you don’t want to go overboard and as long as we stand our ground and back our teammates up, it’s a place where we benefit."
With more stability in the lineup, more of a four-line attack and sharper breakouts from the back end, the Black and Gold have picked up their game after a disappointing first half of the season.
"We had some gray areas before and now we’re playing more like we used to and we know and that’s a big difference," said Zdeno Chara, who has been back in the lineup now for a month after missing a month and a half with his knee injury. "We take a lot of pride in our defensive game and we capitalize on chances."
The Bruins let up two goals to Stamkos, and a double deflection late in the third as the Bolts made it a one-goal game, but had a solid effort against the highest scoring team in the NHL.
"We’re moving pucks forward and we’re moving it quick. We have layers and all the things we’ve talked about missing in our game are coming back and it’s been a huge help," said Rask. "I think our scoring chances [against] have been cut down drastically. Moving forward, that’s a good sign."
With the team "feeling it" in those areas, there's an addition to their lineup that has no doubt given them a boost as well.
The 18-year-old Pastrnak, currently the youngest player in the NHL, dazzled with his speed and skill, putting up another two-goal game following his two-tally outing in the Bruins' 3-1 win over the Flyers on Saturday.
From the drop of the puck, he was moving.
Late in the second period, Julien opted to shift lines back into place, with Daniel Paille going to the fourth line, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith going back with Patrice Bergeron, and Milan Lucic joining Krejci and Pastrnak to form a unit.
Pastrnak and Lucic scored two goals on two straight shifts towards the end of the second period. Pastrnak added his second tally just 1:30 into the third. Earlier in the first period, Pastrnak drew the penalty that led tot he delayed call, and Marchand's goal.
"Well, you know, I think he’s making a case for himself," Julien said of the young forward, who can play one more game in the NHL (the ninth of his career) before the Bruins have to decide if they want his entry-level contract to kick in. "We see what he can do; I enjoy watching him play. I think he’s made unbelievable strides in a half year of being in Providence and coming up with us a little bit and going back."
"I think it was good for him to see certain things that he wanted to improve on, and he’s such a smart player, he knows; he figures those things out pretty quickly. I think he’s come back an even better player."
"His speed, his skill level, was never an issue. But he’s becoming more reliable in other areas as well and he’s not afraid to go in the corners. He doesn’t have to lay hits he just has to be smart enough to come up with the puck and not afraid to go to the front of the net. So, I’ve seen a real big improvement in his game."
"Got to give credit to those guys in Providence that have been working with him and give him a lot of credit for adapting so quickly."
On Pastrnak's first of the night, he sped down the left wing, went strong to the net, and beat two defenders, a Ben Bishop pokecheck and slid the puck in.
"It’s always exciting to have one of those guys on your team that has that unbelievable speed and unbelievable hands," said Julien. "He’s a young player and certainly he can bring a lot to the table. And maybe, who knows, as we move forward, we may have nights where we don’t see much of him, he may look tired, we don’t know that."
"But on a game like [this one] that’s pretty exciting to watch a guy like that play, and not only play, but make a difference in our game."
On the second, Pastrnak went to the net after a faceoff win. When Torey Krug let a shot off, Pastrnak easily picked up the rebound and quick wrapped around the goal and stuffed it in. The puck seems to find him. He put seven shots on goal during the course of the night.
"They’re great players," Pastrnak said of playing with Lucic and Krejci. "And I’m just trying to do the best for them and best for the team and just trying to do my best."
"I thought today was his best game, even though he scored two goals in Philly," said Krejci. "I thought we played pretty good as a line and especially his first goal, was pretty amazing, so and he was also important for our team so I thought he played well."
"Dave, you know, he’s new to us and we don’t really know what he’s got in his bag, so his, especially the first goal, was pretty amazing, so we can’t wait [to see] what he’s got to show us next time."
The Bruins next host the New York Rangers on Thursday night at TD Garden. With the team getting in a groove, Pastrnak and his teammates aren't so dialed into what his immediate future will bring, though they know it will be bright.
"That’s not my decision," said Pastrnak. "I’m just trying to play my best for the team and that’s all that I’m focusing on."