The Bruins played (thankfully) their last regular season game at the Nausea Coliseum this year. They are winless in 4 attempts, but at least this time they garnered a point by pushing it to a shootout. You get what you get when you take most of the 3rd period off and the B’s were lucky to secure a point out of this one.
Jaro Halak was in net for Tuukka Rask with
Daniel Darth Vlader serving as the backup. Rask did not make the trip as it looked as if he tweaked his back late last game, but Bruce Cassidy downplayed any talk of an injury to the team’s top goaltender. “Tuukka did not travel”, Cassidy said. “He’s feeling better, but we thought why mix in a couple of plane rides that are not necessary. I don’t think it’s anything serious.” Read into that what you may.
When the Bruins are on their game, they are defensively responsible and play disciplined hockey and capitalize off their opponent’s mistakes. When the Islanders are on their game, they are defensively responsible and play possession hockey with quick strike ability. Sometimes these styles combine for a tractor pull, just a complete slog with turnovers in the neutral zone all night and no one able to get setup in each other’s end. That was not the case tonight as they combined for up and down hockey and chances at both ends. Sean Kuraly was back centering the 4th line with Anders Bjork and Chris Wagner on his wings. The only other change up front was Jack Studnicka slid into Jake DeBrusk’s spot on David Krecji’s wing with DeBrusk getting the health bomb.
Cassidy commented on DeBrusk’s status prior to the game: “We’ve tried different angles with Jake, he’s met one-on-one with myself and with the coaches. He’s talked with some of the veteran guys. At the end of the day, we’re not getting out of Jake what we want. We just feel like we’re not getting the effort required.” Obviously Butchie has been reading my posts because DeBrusk’s compete level has been nonexistent. As a player (in any sport) you can only control your effort and your attitude. I can’t speak to DeBrusk’s attitude, but his effort has sucked ass. We’ll see if watching gets him going, but at what point do you move on from a player? Especially when you’re watching Barzal out there lighting up the league (in case you forgot, the Bruins bypassed Barzal to pick DeBrusk).
The Bruins had jump from the opening faceoff and the defense was activated early. Both teams spent time set up in each other’s defensive zones, with the Bruins seemingly getting the better of the positional play in the first. Boston got on the board first with a power play strike from Pasta at the end of the period. Matt Grzelcyk with a slap pass into the right corner where Marchy corralled the puck and found Pasta at the point. It was an awkward shot that wasn’t a full clapper, but Varlamov looked off balance and the puck skipped under his right pad for the early Bruins lead. A quick stick tap to salute Barry Trotz’ coaching. He had the Clutterbuck line out against The Erection Line as much as possible tonight. If Bergy’s line spends all it’s time in the defensive zone, then they aren’t cashing in at the other end. The NY 4th liners gave the Bruins top line trouble all night.
The second period was more of the same, but the chances were more limited as the teams seemed to dial in a bit more. Both goalies were outstanding as the game could have easily been 6-5 late in the middle bracket. With about 4 minutes to go in the period, Wahlstrom hit Connor Clifton with an iffy boarding call. Yes, it was boarding, but Cliffy looked as if he lost an edge and spun with his back towards Wahlstrom as he approached. Either way, if you see the guy’s numbers, you have to pull up. Wahlstrom didn’t and Marchand took exception to the play. Marchy had the gloves off and throwing before Wahlstrom knew what happened and he landed a few good shots. Ultimately it led to a NY power play as Marchand got the extra 2 minutes and Brock Nelson tied the game up. Good leadership in my opinion by Marchand. The entire team understandably has their antenna up about any questionable hits on their defensemen (thanks to all world scumbag Tom Wilson), and that’s what the game needs: players policing themselves. I’ll get up on my soapbox about getting rid of the instigator call some other time cause that’ll be a LOOOOONG post.
The Bruins seemed content to batten the hatches in the 3rd and get to OT as they were outshot 9-4 in the last 20 minutes. Poor puck management almost did them in a number of times, but Halak was solid. They finally ramped it up in the last 3 minutes, but it wasn’t enough and they headed for extra hockey. In OT both teams had at least 5 golden opportunities, but the goalies stood tall and sent the game to a shootout. Quick bitch session: This game was an entertaining 1-1 game heading into OT and the 3 on 3 play did not disappoint and generated many chances. Why in the world does the NHL insist on taking a team sport and settling it with a skill contest? Why not play 3 periods of 3 on 3 before going to the shootout? It’s horrible and (in my humble opinion) takes away from the game. Mr. Bettman, can we look at this again this offseason? Listen, can I call you Gary? Give me a call and let’s talk.
The Bruins head home for a pair against the Rangers before heading to Iron City for a pair against the Pens. These next 4 games are crucial as the Bruins find themselves currently in 4th with only a point separating them from being out of the playoff bracket. Luckily they have games in hand vs. the rest of the division and they still have 8 games upcoming against the AHL Sabres. Need to get at least 6 of 8 points over these next 4 games.
- Craig Smith’s effort level: Smith hasn’t been lighting the world on fire, but he competes for every puck on every shift. No one’s scratching him, no one’s calling for him to be traded.
- Power play looked better. Grz is the difference maker on the point. His skating and puck distribution makes the entire unit click. Good to see they got one tonight.
- Sean Kuraly bringing the boom. Kuraly was noticeably taking the body, something that was missing from his game the last few times out.
- The Bruins are a better team than the Islanders and continue to be unable to beat them.
- Still taking time off during the game. Could we please get a full 60 minute effort for more than a game here and there?
- Sloppy puck management could have been the game. Need to play smarter/cleaner.
- Going to do Game Notes a little differently than normal. Today, I want to talk about Cal Clutterbuck. First of all, a world class hockey name. Then take a look at that lip curtain:
Lastly, let’s talk about his play. Clutterbuck is a throwback. A defensive forward who regularly matches up with the opposing teams top line and shuts them down. He takes the body whenever he can, will drop the mitts to stand up for a teammate and here’s the thing: He doesn’t cross the line and isn’t out there trying to end guy’s careers. A salute to an old time style player that “gets it”. Always liked his game and respect the way he plays it.