The redemption tour is off to a great start. The Boston Bruins began the 2019-20 campaign with two wins over the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes.
The 3-1 win against the Stars, featuring an empty netter, was a close call. While the Bruins got out in front early, the Stars battled back and showed no signs of letting up. They tested the B’s until the very end, but Boston’s resilience earned them their first two points of the young season.
The 1-0 victory over the Coyotes was even closer. Arizona came out flying and, while Brad Marchand was able to score late in the first period, the Bruins were simply outplayed. The second and third frames featured a more level playing field, but the Coyotes would have been up by multiple goals if it wasn’t for a superb outing by Jaroslav Halak.
While we are just two games into the new season, there were a number of strong individual performances on behalf of the Bruins. Here are my three stars of the week:
3rd Star: Charlie McAvoy
Charlie McAvoy had a strong showing during his first two games of the 2019-20 season. The 22-year-old was inked to a three-year bridge deal worth $4.9 million annually over the summer and he has already started living up to that price tag.
McAvoy earned a helper on Danton Heinen’s power-play goal against the Stars, but he did much more than can be tracked in the box scores. The blueliner was a force in his own zone, pinned against high-impact players like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Clayton Keller, and Phill Kessel.
No. 73 also led Boston on clean breakouts that generated offense. One of McAvoy’s greatest assets is his offensive abilities, and he showcased that by making his way below the opposition’s goal line on multiple occasions and keeping his feet and the puck moving.
While he only earned one point, McAvoy’s presence on the ice could be felt on every shift. For that reason, the young defenseman has earned the Bruins’ third star of the week.
2nd Star: Jaroslav Halak
Halak posted a 35-save shutout against the Coyotes on Saturday night, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
To say the Bruins wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for their netminder is an understatement. He thwarted wave after wave of attacks despite receiving little help from his teammates. A shutout is certainly a team effort, but Halak continuously made up for his defensemen’s miscues and has already compiled an entertaining highlight reel.
The goaltender came out on top on multiple breakaway attempts. One such breakaway featured Coyote forward Vinnie Hinostroza splitting the Bruins’ defense. Blueliners Connor Clifton and Matt Grzelyck were completely caught off guard. Though Grzyleck provided some pressure and denied Hinostroza enough space to pull off a deke, the Coyote was able to get off a shot from between the hash marks which Halak responded to with a glove save.
In the first period alone, it felt as though Arizona should have been up by at least two or three goals. No. 41 successfully frustrated the Coyotes, especially Kessel who was visibly upset after posting five shots on goal without finding the back of the net. The shutout aside, Halak stole game two of the season for the Bruins and is thus the team’s second star of the week.
1st Star: Charlie Coyle
While Charlie Coyle came out of the first two games of the season with just one helper, the centerman was, by and large, the most impressive player in a Bruins sweater.
Coyle was credited with the primary assist on Brett Ritchie’s goal just 1:09 into the new campaign. After forcing a turnover at the Dallas’ blue line, No. 13 boxed out oncoming Stars and bought Ritchie enough time to scoop up the puck and fire it into the net.
On Heinen’s power-play tally less than five minutes later, Coyle dug himself into the slot to screen Stars goaltender Ben Bishop. The netminder was completely blinded by the Bruin’s 6-foot-3-inch, 220-pound frame, allowing Heinen’s shot from the left face-off circle to find the back of the cage.
In both games, Coyle was all over the offensive zone. Whether it was completing passes to linemates or forcing turnovers, the centerman created many of Boston’s scoring chances. While he only registered two shots on goal, it seemed as though every time Coyle stepped onto the ice good things happened. He certainly earned the Bruins’ first star of the week.