What we learned in the Bruins' 6-2 win over the Blue Jackets

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Here’s what we learned in the Boston Bruins' 6-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.

1)      Brad Marchand is putting himself in rarified air with the things he’s accomplishing for the Bruins after putting the finishing touches on his first 100-point season. It wasn’t a dazzling highlight play that got him to the 100 point mark; he simply pushed a puck up to Patrice Bergeron, who fed David Pastrnak for a sniper wrist shot that put the nail in the Blue Jackets' coffin. The 100 points is not only another impressive notch on Marchand’s career resume as one of the top NHL players and most prolific players in Bruins history, but it’s also something that hasn’t been done in a long, long time for the Black and Gold. It proved to be impossible for any Bruins player to get to 100 points during the Claude Julien era, when a defensive style and a conservative approach to ice time capped the higher limits of offense for even their best skill players. But during the Bruce Cassidy era those scoring numbers have grown, and all three of Boston’s top forwards are consistently hitting 30 goals with Marchand getting to 100 points while he’s been able to stay relatively healthy and stay out of trouble this season. With Marchand as the first 100-point player for the Bruins since Jumbo Joe Thornton back in 2002-03, he’s showing that once again the Bruins can be among the NHL’s leading scorers and put up the gaudy numbers themselves.

2)      It does look like things are starting to solidify for the Bruins' forward group. Marcus Johansson scored his first goal as a member of the Bruins while skating on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Chris Wagner, and he showed some pretty good chemistry with them while getting on the stat sheet. Similarly, Karson Kuhlman was outstanding with the second line of Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, scoring a goal while also setting up DeBrusk a couple of times for great offensive chances. He showed a real ability to get active defensively and turn that into offense with great instincts and excellent skating speed, and created offense for himself and his linemates. Kuhlman was given a chance with Danton Heinen out of the lineup while coming up ill, and he really made the most of his opportunity against a solid Blue Jackets team. Kuhlman probably isn’t a top-six NHL forward on a regular basis at this point and may never be, but the goal, two points, plus-3 and five shot attempts in 14:10 of ice time would say that he’s got something to give these Bruins in the postseason. So Bruce Cassidy is getting some expanded options among his forward group right now, and that’s nothing but a positive headed into the postseason. I’d been skeptical of Kuhlman’s ability to really help the B’s in the playoffs, but Tuesday night’s showing against Columbus kind of changed my mind a bit.

3)       Big bounce-back for Tuukka Rask after he struggled through all of March with a .883 save percentage and opened up some questions about his level of play entering the postseason. He stopped 32-of-34 shots including 15 saves in the third period when a desperate Blue Jackets team was throwing everything it could at the net, and was a big factor in the Bruins winning the eventual 6-2 decision. Rask didn’t have big save numbers in the first couple of periods, but he stopped everything he saw in the first 40 minutes including a wonderful sequence when he slammed the door on Scott Harrington and Boone Jenner in succession as the Bruins were caught running around in their own end. The backbone that Rask gave the Bruins allowed them to get their footing to score a couple of goals in the first period, and then extend the lead in the second while truly pushing the Blue Jackets totally out of the picture. Everybody should feel a little better about Rask going into the postseason after seeing him revert to strong form in an important win against Columbus.

Plus

*Rask snapped out of his March doldrums while stopping 32 of 34 shots, providing that support Boston needed while they built up a lead, then making 15 saves in the third period to hold back a desperate Columbus onslaught.

*DeBrusk scored a pair of goals to creep close to 30 goals on the season, and had six shot attempts while getting a couple of breakaways and really using his speed to create offensive opportunities for himself.

*Marchand finished with a couple of points to give him 100 points for the first time in his NHL career, and to become the first Bruins player to get to the century mark since all the way back in 2002-03 and Jumbo Joe Thornton.

Minus

*David Savard had zero shots on net, was a minus-3 and backed away from challenges from both Joakim Nordstrom and David Backes after he threw a hit from behind on Noel Acciari against the end boards. That’s a bad night.

*Sergei Bobrovsky was sharp early in the game, but was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 23 shots. It really wasn’t all Bob’s fault, but he wasn’t at his best either.

*Matt Duchene had a goal and won 11-of-20 face-offs, but he was also on the ice for three goals against and that was a major problem for Columbus.

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