Winning on the road is always challenging but an essential aspect of a championship-caliber team looking to make a playoff push and a run for the Cup. Having a team that can overcome the long flights, hotel lifestyle, and back-to-back games on the road while navigating the environment and energy of an opposing team’s rink and fans is never an easy task but an important one. When an east coast team heads out to the west coast for a two-week six-game road trip that ends with a trip back on the east coast for that last game, a lot can go wrong, and the losses can build up unless you’re the Boston Bruins on their most recent trip out west. Which officially ended last Saturday, March 5th, with a back and forth high scoring game that went to a shootout but resulted in a win. The six-game road trip was a significant building block for the Bruins to separate themselves in the playoff race. They could add points to separate themselves in the wild card race and look to catch the teams ahead of them in the Atlantic Division and secure one of the limited three spots available. The Bruins did just that as they went 5-1-0, adding ten points to their season total and putting them just two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third spot in the Atlantic Division, who have a game in hand but have been stumbling as of late. This trip was Boston’s best record during a six-game road since the 2010-2011 season when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, giving hope that the near future is bright for the red-hot Bruins as they look to repeat the same outcome as that year.
Cracking the Kraken
The west coast trip got kicked off on February 24th when the Bruins played their first-ever game in Seattle, taking on an inferior Kraken team. This game was important as it set the tone for the trip as the Bruins had to outmuscle and grind out an overtime win to get the winning going and give the Bruins a three-game winning streak moving forward. This game is also important to note as it marked how Bruce Cassidy shifted Jake Debrusk to the first line resulting in Debrusk netting two goals, including the OT winner.
No Need to Fear these Sharks
The next game, which came two days after the Kraken win, saw the Bruins head south to California, where they took on the first of the three California teams, facing off against the San Jose Sharks in a dominating 3-1 win. Brad Marchand got the scoring going early in the first period before adding his second goal in the third to put the Bruins up 2-1 when Patrice Bergeron netted the game’s final goal to put it away for good. This game continued Jeremy Swayman’s dominant month Of February as the rookie netminder stopped 15 of 16 shots faced giving the Bruins the best possible chance to get their fourth straight win.
Kings Get Dethroned
Next up, the Bruins faced the scorching hot Los Angeles Kings, who brought their five-game winning streak into the matchup. This game could have gone either way as both teams were at the top of their games entering it, but unfortunately for the Kings, Jake Debrusk and Jeremy Swayman had a different idea in mind. Debrusk got the scoring going early in the game as he scored only a minute into the game, setting the tone for the team and himself as this was his first of three goals on the night, giving him his first career hat trick. Debrusk scored his second goal later in the first period before netting his third and final goal of the night to kick off the second period. Patrice Bergeron and Taylor Hall were up next on the score sheet. They scored a goal apiece, giving the Bruins a 5-0 lead heading into the third before Erik Haula netted two goals to finish it off, giving Boston a dominating 7-0 win pushing the winning streak to five.
Quacked out of Anaheim
This next game was hard to swallow as it came down to the final minute, but when playing your fourth straight road game and on the second night of a back-to-back, something had to give. The Anaheim Ducks went up early thanks to some sloppy play in their own end by the Bruins, which saw the score be 3-1 at the end of the first. The Bruins didn’t give up, though, as they were able to claw their way back in the second and third periods thanks to goals from Brandon Carlo and David Pastrnak. Just when this game looked like it was heading to overtime, young superstar Trevor Zegras decided to put the dagger in with 22 seconds remaining on a power-play goal that bested the Bruins giving the Ducks a 4-3 win and Boston’s only loss of the trip.
Bruins Roll Over Knights Before Rolling Dice
The Bruins rebounded two nights later with a strong showing against the Vegas Golden Knights, which featured another Bruins player recording a hat trick on this trip and Jeremy Swayman once again putting on a solid performance between the pipes. Craig Smith scored the first two goals of the game thanks to assists by Trent Frederic, giving Boston a 2-0 lead they were never surrendering. Entering the third period, the Bruins controlled the game with a 2-1 lead before David Pastrnak netted his 30th goal of the season, and Craig Smith scored his third goal to give him a hat trick and bring the lead to 4-1. Vegas was able to sneak another past Swayman, but it just wouldn’t be enough as Pasta secured an empty-net goal to help put the game to bed with a dominating 5-2 victory, allowing the boys to go out and celebrate in Vegas on a high note.
Ending on a High Note
After flying back across the country on their off day to Columbus, the Bruins laced the skates back up and got ready for a tilt against the Blue Jackets to put this sixth and final road trip game to rest. The Bruins struck first with another goal from Jake Debrusk that saw the first line right winger score his sixth goal and eighth point of the road trip. Entering the second period, the Bruins found themselves in a hole down 2-1 before Erik Haula scored to tie the game 2-2 but once again entering the third period, the Bruins were down 3-2. The deficit didn’t last long as Craig Smith and Patrice Bergeron got on the board to give the Bruins a 4-3 lead with the game winding down. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they couldn’t close it out in regulation as the pesky Blue Jackets scored a power-play goal from Jakub Voracek with only three seconds remaining, sending the game to overtime. After a scoreless overtime, the two teams moved to a shootout where Jeremy Swayman could redeem himself, stopping all three shots he faced. Then none other than David Pastrnak scored the Bruin’s lone shootout goal giving the Bruins the 5-4 victory and fifth win of the six-game road trip.
Quick Look at the Rest of the Season
While this road trip may be over, the Bruin’s road games are not as they still have twelve games outside of the TD Garden, but thankfully only four of those games are outside of the Eastern Time Zone. With two of those final road trips consisting of at least four games, the Bruin’s work on the road is not done and will either make or break their playoff hopes. The Bruins have it going for them because they still have 14 home games remaining, allowing them to feed off the Boston faithful. Five of their next seven games are against teams currently not in the playoff picture, giving them a chance to build on the solid playoff push they’ve been making since the new year and try to replicate the success of the 2011 team with Bergeron in the lineup possibly for the last time.