Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien spent the better part of his morning press conference with reporters on Tuesday talking about the NHL’s revised 3-on-3 overtime format.
The Bruins and Capitals were set to play the extra frame in preseason action on Tuesday night at TD Garden, regardless of the score at the end of regulation. The NHL is giving teams chances in the preseason to test out the format.
Well, with the score knotted at 1-1 after 60 minutes, all it took was 12 seconds for David Pastrnak to fire home a one-timer during the OT to lift the Bruins to a 2-1 win.
“I was OK with 12 seconds,” Julien smiled postgame.
If every Bruins’ overtime ends with that result, he’ll be a happy bench boss.
“There’s a good chance those are going to end quickly,” said Julien. “Because it doesn’t take much — one 2-on-1 or one bad pass behind the guy and he’s skating in the wrong direction, they pick it up, go the other way — it’s not going to take much.”
“What I liked is the way [we] scored that goal. It was great winning the faceoff, which I thought was a little bit of a challenge for us throughout the game even though it’s preseason — you know, when you don’t win faceoffs, you’re chasing the puck more than you’d like so we’ve got to get a little bit better there — but in that overtime we won the faceoff, we took control of the puck, we took just a couple of passes and the puck was in the net, so I was happy with that.”
Boston has always been aggressive in overtime, using three forwards and one defenseman in the previous 4-on-4 format.
In Tuesday’s game, David Krejci was sent out to take the faceoff along with Pastrnak and Torey Krug for the first 3-on-3 shift.
After winning the draw, Krejci sped down the right side 2-on-1, flipping a perfect sauce pass over the Washington defenseman’s stick with Pastrnak setting up to slap home the one-timer from the left circle.
“I actually watched Washington last night, I saw their 2-on-1 miss the net and a guy got a goal on the rush, so all I was focusing on was to hit the net,” said Pastrnak, who netted both of the Bruins’ goals on Tuesday night, with Krejci getting the primary assist on each of them.
“He’s a great passer, so I kind of expected that he was going to pass to me and he made me turn for a one-timer and gave me good sauce, so I had a pretty easy one,” said Pastrnak.
Krug had the front-row seat to the action.
“If we can limit it to 12 seconds every game, I’ll be happy,” smiled the defenseman.
“Anytime you have a disher like Krech out there, you’re going to have a good opportunity to shoot the puck 2-on-1 because he’s able to make that saucer pass like no one else in this League.”
The Bruins would like to earn the win in regulation every night, and the overtime likely won’t end as quickly every time, but it will be interesting to see how the new format shakes out heading into the 2015-16 campaign.
That extra point becomes important at the end of the regular season in the standings. The Bruins would prefer not to go into a shootout, and always go for the win in overtime. Hopefully it continues to pay off.
Aside from assisting on the quick OT-winner, “vintage Krejci” was on display throughout the course of the night, albeit in his first preseason game.
On the game’s first goal, midway through a scoreless third period, Krejci and Pastrnak had a give-and-go coming into the zone, before Pastrnak pulled out a quick turnaround move on the doorstep to backhand the puck home.
“Definitely, you see him there - that’s Krech, you know,” said Pastrnak. “He came to play like Krech and fed me the good passes and he made a big difference in the game.”
Krejci’s injury-marred 2014-15 season began in the preseason, when he toe-picked in the final exhibition game against Detroit. He missed the start of the season with his injury and then missed time off and on, before a knee injury kept him out of the lineup again. He never got into his groove. He's hoping to get off to a much better beginning this year.
“The plan it go game by game, do everything I can and after every single practice, games, just take care of my body,” Krejci said prior to the game, before adding with a smile: “I’m not the youngest guy anymore - I’m a little older than 22 - but you know, that’s just part of the game, right? You get a little older and then you have to take care of your body a little bit more on and off the ice, so I’ve been trying to do that the whole summer and I feel pretty good in this camp.”
“[Tuesday night’s] going to be a really good test and I’m looking forward to it.”
The centerman is likely pleased with his start.
“I think David’s goals in the preseason are to get his legs moving and see how it feels out there,” said Krug. “Obviously he’s one of the better playmakers in the league, so his hands will come. And you know, you saw in the overtime, that’s vintage Krejci right there so it’s nice to see and I know the more and more he skates, the better he is, so he’s a leader of this team and he’s excited about that.”
Just as Krejci’s hands will come, the entire team will continue to work out any preseason kinks and get their timing back offensively.
When it comes to energy, defense and goaltending, though, the Bruins have been fairly solid though the first two preseason games.
“If you’re talking energy, there was lots of it,” said Julien. “This was preseason and you know, just goes to show you how good of shape these guys are in. They’re doing a great job at keeping themselves well rested and in good shape and the pace of the game is pretty impressive for this time of year.”
Much of the energy stems from the young players in the lineup, those making their NHL preseason debuts and those pushing for spots in Boston’s lineup.
Forwards Anton Blidh, Frank Vatrano Justin Hickman, Austin Czarnik and Zach Senyshyn all showed flashes of their future. Blidh hustled, caused havoc and was gritty on the forecheck and in front of the net, while Vatrano played with pace and put himself in good shooting position to get off his quick release. Hickman dropped the gloves and earned a takedown, while Senyshyn showed his speed. Defenseman Linus Arnesson looked poised on the blueline.
Between the pipes and on the back end, the Bruins have been stingy, giving up only one goal against among four goaltenders — Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, Jeremy Smith and Jonas Gustavsson — through the first two preseason games.
Subban and McIntyre split the duties on Tuesday night, with Subban stopping all 17 shots he faced.
“That’s the best I’ve been all camp, so just looking to push forward,” said Subban.
“We’re all here to push each other and obviously we’re all here for the same goal but you’ve just got to worry about yourself. For me personally, I’m not too worried about the other guys, I’ve just got to focus on my play and my game and doing what I can control and my opportunity will come so that’s all I can focus on right now.”
McIntyre let in a goal through traffic during the penalty kill that made it a 1-1 game. He's aware that tracking the puck through tips and screens will be an important adjustment for him from college to the NHL level, but overall, he enjoyed his first experience wearing the Spoked-B in front of the TD Garden crowd.
"[It was] everything I imagined, and then a little some extra on top,” said the goaltender, who — like Subban — is just trying to focus on being himself and playing his game.
“You know, competition really brings out the best in everybody I think and I think everybody is really shining right now,” said McIntyre. “One goal in the past two games for all four goalies? I think that’s not too bad at all and it’s been good, it’s been real good.”
“It helps when you have a really good group of guys around you and I think they made it a lot easier than anything I was expecting, so that was a lot of fun, and big hats off to all of the guys here that played tonight.”