Two Boston Bruins were back in the fold after missing the last game on Sunday. Did it make a difference for the team? You bet it did.
It seems like the Carolina Hurricanes have been regular foes for the Boston Bruins recently. This is the 3rd time the teams are meeting since January 6th, and things haven’t necessarily changed for each team in the interim. Carolina is still on the outside looking in of the playoff picture, and Boston is still competing for the top spot in the east. Getting back Brad Marchand and David Backes would seem to help the cause for tonight’s game.
To say this game started off slow and boring would be an insult to…well, slow and boring things. Neither team was really making things happen in the offensive zone. The Bruins were consistently outshooting the Hurricanes, but weren’t getting quality scoring chances. Each team had 2 power plays in the first that they were unable to capitalize on.
But at the end of the first period, Brad Marchand decided to do what he does. After the Bruins kept the puck in the ‘Canes zone, David Pastrnak took the puck behind the cage. A slick backhand pass to an open Marchand stationed netside led to the Bruins breaking the ice with 11 seconds left in the frame. The 1st ended with the Bruins ahead 1-0.
And then the wheels seem to fall off…
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The 2nd period, however, was one to forget for the Bruins. The team played one of the laziest periods of hockey they have played since mid-November. Players were getting out-hustled and out-muscled regularly through the period. The lackadaisical play led to stupid mistakes and penalties, which led directly to Carolina goals.
Carolina had 3 power plays in the 2nd, and scored on 2 of them, with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen scoring on the man advantage. Later in the period, a Riley Nash faceoff loss led to a Hurricanes shot that squeaked through Tuukka Rask. Justin Williams powered passed several Bruins, Zdeno Chara included, to bury the puck that was sitting in the blue paint.
All of a sudden, after being outshot 18-6, the Bruins were down 3-1. It could have been even worse had Rask not bailed out several Bruins skaters, like Brandon Carlo, who let Carolina players walk all over them.
And then that happened…
The 2nd period woes carried over into the 3rd period for the Bruins. The B’s started the 3rd on the power play, which could have been just what the team needed to get back into the game. Well, let’s just say, that’s not what happened.
After Pastrnak lost control of the puck, Elias Lindholm skated in on Rask on a partial breakaway, with Marchand backchecking. Rask stoned Lindholm, but Marchand overcommitted to the pursuit, and Brock McGinn was able to put in the rebound uncontested. Rask’s body language said it all after this one.
The Bruins showed a bit of pride midway through the 3rd. A hard play along the boards by Sean Kuraly and the 4th line sprung the puck to a charging Matt Grzelcyk. The rookie blueliner, who had played a solid game overall, fired home his 3rd goal of the season over Cam Ward.
After being outplayed for 30 minutes, the Bruins were clearly sick of it. The 1st line put the pedal down on the forecheck, and prevented the Hurricanes from clearing the puck. Marchand found Pastrnak on the right wing, and he went high glove side on Ward. In less than a minute, the Bruins were within 1.
But then Bruins weren’t done. The Bruins broke out of the zone efficiently, with Krejci catching a sky-puck and dropping it just in the right spot on the rush. He beat the Carolina defenseman, and fed a streaking Danton Heinen, who tapped the puck into the open net to tie the game at 4.
After that goal, it became a relay race, with each team trading odd-man rushes for what seemed like forever. Play settled down until about 4 minutes left in the period, when Justin Faulk almost threw the puck into the upper level, causing a delay of game penalty.
The Bruins executed the power play exactly the way it’s drawn up, creating 2-on-1s and out-hustling. Some tic-tac-toe passing led to a Pastrnak one-timer from the faceoff circle, and 6:26, the Bruins had scored 4 goals to take the 5-4 lead.
Pastrnak netted an empty netter to complete the 3rd period hat trick, and cap off the 5 goal 3rd period for the Bruins. What…a…game. Here’s hoping you didn’t turn it off.
Takeaways from the game
Even though Joe Haggerty will likely crucify Tuukka Rask for how the 2nd period went, that wasn’t on him. The team in front of him showed no life after the 1st period ended, and just looked defeated. The Bruins have a hectic schedule for the remainder of the season, so here’s hoping this sort of lazy hockey is out of their system after that period and a half.
Also, what the heck is David Backes doing on the 1st power play unit, when you have an elite playmaker in David Krejci sitting on the bench? While Patrice Bergeron is out, no other player other than Krejci should be on the top man-advantage unit. He scored 4 power play goals during the Bruins’ recent 6 game win streak. It’s not that complicated.
The Bruins play AT LEAST every other night for the remainder of the season. The next game is on the road in Florida against the streaking Panthers. Here’s hoping the Bruins play a bit more balanced hockey going forward. The Bruins may be winning, but this type of hockey may not translate well to the playoffs.