Boston Bruins’ fun new game idea: Duck, Duck, Lose

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 15: Kevin Roy /

The first of three late night West Coast games for the Boston Bruins featured an incredibly thin lineup.  How did the cobbled together lineup fair in Anaheim?

No David Backes, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner, Brad Marchand, Anders Bjork, or Adam McQuaid.  That is 1/3 of the Boston Bruins regular lineup missing tonight’s game.  Yes, you read that right.  Six of 18 skaters that would normally be on the ice for the Bruins weren’t playing tonight.  How the heck is a team supposed to compete when that happens?  Welcome back to the NHL Peter Cehlarik and Kenny Agostino.

The Bruins found themselves at .500 before tonight’s game, despite their injury woes.  Hats off to head coach Bruce Cassidy for keeping the team’s head above water with an incredibly inexperienced lineup.  If Patrice Bergeron is in the lineup, the Bruins at least stand a chance for points.  However, with tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center, the Bruins find themselves on the front end of a difficult three-game California road trip.

First period

Both teams came out flying in this game.  The Ducks and the Bruins have struggled when it comes to scoring the first goal of the game.  The Bruins have only scored first in 6 of 16 games.  In that vein, the teams were throwing the puck at the net like crazy in the first half of the period.  In the first 10 minutes of the period, the teams combined for 14 shots on goal (ANA – 8; BOS – 6).  That put the game on pace for 84 shots!  However, no goals were scored early.

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Things slowed down a bit in the second half of the period.  The teams seemed to have the early game energy wear off, but both teams kept up the physical aspect of the game.  While the shots on goal slowed down, the hits continued to rack up for both teams.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, they lost the race for the first goal.  At 13:26 of the period, on a mad scramble in front of the net, former Northeastern Husky Kevin Roy scored the first goal of his NHL career.  Rask made the initial save on a Nick Ritchie shot, but the rebound found it’s way into the slot, and Roy batted it home.  This was the only goal of the first period, and the Ducks went into the break up 1-0.

Second period

The Bruins came out in absolute control of the second period.  They had some great zone time to start the period, and had a great scoring chance by Riley Nash.  John Gibson went Dominick Hasek with a pad stack and a glove save to rob the chance.

Nine minutes into the frame, a re-configured line of Riley Nash, Jake DeBrusk, and Danton Heinen demonstrated what a strong forecheck can do.  The three man forward unit applied hard pressure in the Ducks zone.  Heinen scooped up the puck in front of the net, outwaited Gibson, and went top shelf on the backhand, tying the game at 1 apiece.  The Bruins at that point were outshooting the Ducks 12-0 in the period.

Things were going all Boston’s way.  Charlie McAvoy was throwing around his body and making Ducks pay.  However, in typical Bruins fashion this season, it all came to an end.  On a flukey play, Josh Manson (ANOTHER Northeastern Husky) threw the puck towards the center of the ice.  The puck deflected off Zdeno Chara’s skate and into his own net.  The Ducks, despite being incredibly outshot and outplayed, had the lead back.

The Bruins also did something else they normally do…allow a late period goal.  The Bruins made a defensive mistake, not taking proper body position on a Ducks rush.  With less than a minute left in the period, Antoine Vermette fired the puck on net, and Nick Ritchie tipped the puck in to increase the Ducks lead to 2.  The Bruins scored 1 goal on 15 shots in the period; the Ducks scored 2 goals on 3 shots on goal in the period.  Woof.

Third period

Tell me if you’ve heard this before this season:  the Bruins started the third period trailing.  And the bad only got worse for the Bruins.  Birthday boy Kevan Miller got stripped by Corey Perry as he tried to exit the zone.  And Corey Perry then does what goal scorers do.  He fired the puck on net, and the wrist shot deflects off Derek Grant setting the screen and past Rask.  Make it 4-1 Ducks.

A 3 goal lead is the worst in all of hockey.  I guess that’s true when playing against most teams.  But this Bruins team just seemed to lose all hope after the Grant goal.  The team went on the first power play of the game halfway through the period.  They failed to generate anything, and a must-score opportunity went by the wayside.

Riley Nash had a breakaway with about 6 minutes left, but he was stoned by Gibson.  No other chances really materialized after that, even with another power play late in the period.  Noel Acciari scored a garbage time goal off the rebound with 22 seconds left.  But even with that, the game ended in a 4-2 loss for the Bruins.

Takeaways from the game

Tuukka Rask’s rebound control was a weakness in his game early in his career.  He tweaked his form a few times in his career, and his rebound control improved.  But his ability to control and direct away shots on net has regressed quite a bit this season.  The first goal of the game was off a rebound that hit Rask right in the logo that he couldn’t control.  The Ducks had several other scoring opportunities on juicy rebounds in the game.

Boston Bruins
ANAHEIM, CA – NOVEMBER 15: Jakob Silfverberg /

I have never been in the “Trade Rask” camp.  I think he’s an elite goalie who is struggling.  There are certainly some goals he has given up this season where he was hung out to dry by the young team in front of him.  But a significant portion of the goals he has given up this season are on him.  At $7 million per season, he needs to start stealing games for the Bruins if he wants to be considered an elite goalie again.

Riley Nash was the best player on the ice for the Bruins tonight.  Peter Cehlarik looked good in his first game action for the NHL club.  A lot of people had him pegged for an opening night roster spot after he did a stint in Boston last season.  He had energy, and was hard on the puck when he had it.  He looked really good alongside Bergeron and Pastrnak…but then again, most players look good playing with Bergeron.

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Jake DeBrusk appeared to have gotten the message with the healthy scratch last game.  The young guy realized that just because you earned a roster spot out of camp doesn’t mean it’s yours forever.  He made strong plays all night, and was integral in the forecheck that lead to Heinen’s goal, for which he got an assist.