MONTREAL — Colby Cave enjoyed his best game as a Bruin on Monday night. He scored his first NHL goal — the pivotal tally in the B’s 4-0 victory over the bumbling Canadiens — and he notched his first multi-point game in the big leagues.
Was the performance good enough to prevent it from being Cave’s swan song? You have to wonder. Patrice Bergeron is expected to return soon, maybe even as early as Thursday night against Anaheim, and a centerman will have to come out of the lineup. It would be hard to take Cave out after the night he had in Montreal, but it might make the most sense.
Whatever happens, coach Bruce Cassidy was happy to see Cave finally break through.
“I’ve coached Colby in the minors before and seen him come up. He’s a terrific kid, team player all the way, will do whatever is asked of him,” said Cassidy. “He’s done a little more offensively in Providence this year and it’s translated here. He’s had a lot of good looks, not a ton but its usually once a game he gets a good look and this one gets in the back of the net. Having him out there 4-on-4 in the last minute shows the trust level you have in a player like Colby. He’s earned it.”
Cave has 1-3-4 totals in the 13 games he’s played in Boston, but he has seemed more comfortable in his current recall to the big club than he had in a couple of cameos last year or in training camp in September. He’s been centering an effective, if a tad nondescript line with David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom.
“I’ve been trying,” said Cave. “I’ve had my moments and learning curves you might say, but we’ve got a great coaching staff who’ll sit you down, watch video and you can learn from your mistakes. They also do a good job of showing you what you do well. You need to keep your confidence up and I thank them a lot for that.”
Before he scored on Monday on a beautiful set-up from Charlie McAvoy in a 4-on-4 situation, Cave had several glittering chances, including one in Pittsburgh last Friday, but couldn’t cash in.
“Oh it was definitely frustrating, but it’s one of those things. I’ve gone through it no matter where I’ve played, the scoring slumps, hitting posts. But if you’re getting chances, it means you must be doing something right, so I’m just trying to do the same thing,” said Cave.
It will be interesting to see what Cassidy does when Bergeron is ready to come back. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is starting to develop a chemistry with Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen. That grouping drew a rave from Cassidy on Monday morning, though the trio did get hemmed in their own zone in the second period when the game was still in question, but it was otherwise solid, especially. JFK, who came up with three blocked shots in the game. Chances are, Cassidy would want to continue to grow that line. Is there a spot on the fourth line, where Noel Acciari is currently centering Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner? That grouping also played a very good game.
We’ll soon find out what Cassidy’s plans are. Cave, though, is trying not to worry about what he can’t control.
“I’m trying not to think about that,” said Cave. “I’m just trying to be consistent every night as much as I can, whether that’s winning faceoffs, being hard on the penalty kill and like (Monday night) if I can chip in offensively that’s what I want to do. I’m just going to keep doing that and keep putting my best foot forward.”
The B’s dominated Montreal, but if the game could have gone sideways on them, it would have happened when they took two first period penalties, then another one in the second. The PK, however, calmed the waters instead.
“We’ve made an adjustments the last couple of games, tried to be more assertive, aggressive,” said Cassidy.. “Without our long sticks in front, our (Kevan) Millers, our (Zdeno Charas), we can’t be as structured. Now we’ve incorporated the (Steven Kampfers) and the (Matt Grzelcyks) and we’ve used their quickness more recently. I think the forwards have freed them up to pressure. Montreal’s had some trouble with their PP lately, so you put pressure on them. That works against us when we’re having trouble. That was the game plan. It’s worked (Monday), hopefully it will work on Thursday (against Anaheim.”
Rounding into form
McAvoy enjoyed his best game since returning from a concussion. He not only picked up a pair of assists, he was credited with a half dozen hits. He said the checks just came to him in the course of the game.
“I think it was mostly just rubbing guys out along the wall. I don’t think I tried to throw any big hits that put me out of position. I think I was just trying to stop guys momentum and those guys come when you have a good gap,” said McAvoy.