Bruins: Going into the all-star break with momentum

By Megan Maclaren

The end of the first half of the season is here for the Bruins as they enter the All-Star break on a high note after defeating the Las Vegas Golden Knights 3-2.

The Bruins head into the bye week on top of the Atlantic Division with 70 points, holding an eight-point lead over their closest competitor, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The start of the new year has not been perfect for the Bruins, who have gone 5-4-2 in the month of January.

The Bruins struggled in shootouts during the first half of the season, finishing 0-7 in games decided after overtime. One of the ugliest moments of the season for the team came during a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, in which forward Brad Marchand missed the puck on his way to the goal.

The Bruins are also unable to respond to goals by opposing teams. On Jan. 14, the Bruins lost 3-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets followed by a loss of 4-3 on Jan. 19 after the Pittsburgh Penguins scored four unanswered goals”

The organization honored goaltender Tuukka Rask on his 500th game before the team’s 4-1 win against Pittsburgh on Jan. 16, and he will use this bye week to recover from the concussion he sustained during the game against Columbus. Head coach Bruce Cassidy said Rask returned to the ice for practice, but the goaltender will not return to play until after the break. Other injured players include Kevan Miller and David Krejci—Miller dealing with a knee injury and Krejci recovering from an upper-body injury.

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Right-winger David Pastrnak scored against the Penguins to remain first in the league with 37 goals. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who led the league with 51 goals last season, scored back-to-back hat tricks this week to come within three goals of Pastrnak.

Pastrnak, the only Bruin attending the All-Star game, will serve as the captain of the Atlantic Division. Rask will miss the game with a concussion, and center Patrice Bergeron—who welcomed his newborn baby in December—will happily miss the game after losing the fan vote for the final spot on the Atlantic Division roster. One key Bruin snubbed from the All-Star game is winger Brad Marchand, who is currently fifth in assists in the league and second in goals scored on the Bruins with 21.

In addition to the many injuries on the roster, the team waived 35-year-old winger David Backes. Backes, a key player for the Bruins in each of the past three seasons, played in 16 games this season but scored only one goal. This is a sign the team wants to move forward with 24-year-old wingers Karson Kuhlman and Anton Blidh.

The Bruins play at Winnipeg at 8 p.m. on Jan. 31 following the All-Star break. The Bruins will use this break to rest up and get healthy while preparing for another playoff run.