The Bruins came out flat and played about 7 minutes of NHL caliber hockey tonight in a 4-1 loss to the Penguins. Pittsburgh controlled the tempo and clearly had the offensive zone time advantage for the entire 60 minutes in a thorough shut down of the Boston offense. Keeping the Bruins to the perimeter for most (if not all) of their offensive zone time; the Pens showed a commitment to team defense with good layers and kept their gaps tight.
The Bruins basically came out, rolled over and let Sid and Co. rub their bellies like a group of puppies for 55 minutes. I’m looking for highlights, but it’s tough to find anything positive from this game. If this is what it’s be like to be a Flyers fan: Hank, I understand your rage and feel your pain. My sympathies brother. This team just doesn’t show up for 60 minutes on a consistent basis. The Bruins have some of the top players in the league, along with an exciting young corp. of defensemen and some real bright spots up front; and they got shitpumped in every phase of the game tonight and the Pens were doing this without Malkin. At least the Flyers have Gritty.
Vladar was in net and the Calder/Vezina probable double winner deserved better from his teammates. The Bruins didn’t even get a shot on net until 7:30 of the first period. It doesn’t matter if the Pens scored 4 or 44 if you only score one. The Bruins “supposedly” outshot the Pens 31-23 for the game, but that smells like a generous home ice official piling up the shot count. The shots tonight from the “high danger zone” were PGH 15 and BOS 3 for the game. Disclaimer: I have no idea what this stat is or where it came from, but Homeboy Jack trotted it out on the NESN feed and it suits my argument so I’m going with it.
Aston-Reese put the Pens up when he finished off a Tanev feed through Coyle’s backcheck in the early going of the 2nd period. Matheson opened the lead to 2 when he went coast to coast and blew by Lauzon on his off wing to go backhand forehand around Vladar. The rookie netminder was big in this game, don’t let the 3GA fool you. It easily could have been 7 or 8 if not for some of the saves he made. One of his biggest was at the end of the 2nd when he stoned Ceci and then Rust with under 4 seconds left. Why were they all alone in front like that? Cause Cliffy was too occupied in yapping with Tanev up at the Pens bench and forgot that the horn hadn’t sounded to end the period just yet.
The B’s climbed back into the game when Marchand finished off a Bergeron feed over DeSMith’s glove. The Bruins weren’t gaining the zone with possession for much of the game, but on this play Bergy did. With Smith driving the net, he found Marchy across the slot to cut the lead in half. Smith was out there in place of Pastrnak who was demoted to the 2nd line for much of the 3rd period. Less than 2 minutes later, Pasta showed why he deserved that demotion as the Bruins were coming out of their own end, and he tried a self pass through 3 Pens players when he easily could have fed one of his linemates to break out of the zone. As a noted hockey mind recently noted (me in my last blog), his tendency to forgo the simple play is what makes him great, and at times, makes him a turnover machine. This time the turnover cost the B’s as Zucker converted to put the Pens back up by 2 goals. See for yourself:
At this point the game was over except for the clock. The Bruins pulled Vladar as they couldn’t even get shots on net with the extra attacker. With less than 90 seconds in the game, the Pens were called for a (soft at best) penalty. Pulling Vladar again, the Bruins only landed 2 shots on net during the 6 on 4 power play. Way to go out with a whimper.
The Bruins get another shot at the Pens Saturday afternoon. I’m envisioning some lineup changes. Wagner and Kuraly would both be on my short list to get back in there for sure.
- Vladar with another strong outing regardless of the loss. The Bruins may have hit on this one.
- Zboril looked good with the extra ice time (see minuses as to why). Still gets outmuscled for pucks, but that will come with time. His skating and offensive instincts are what will hopefully separate him.
- Charlie McAvoy is going to be a historic defenseman. He’s just going to get better and better. Over 27 minutes tonight and is out there in every situation. Kid’s a beast.
- Brandon Carlo left late in the first and didn’t come back. Only his second game back from a concussion and he’s out with an upper body injury. Not good.
- Matt Grzelcyk took a puck to the head at the 7:00 minute mark of the third and missed significant time in the third period. Again, not good.
- Scoring, defense, transition, breakouts and forecheck need work.
- Bruins put out an April Fool’s Day joke that Tuukka Rask retired this morning. Couple of blue check marks bit on the prank.
- Kris Letang was sporting a pedo-stache for tonight’s game. Said it was to “change some luck” for the Pens who hadn’t won in their last 10 visits. Hopefully Frederic pays him back for the sucker punch in tonight’s game and wipes it off his face on Saturday.
- I’m sure Don Sweeney reads my blog.(I mean the guy was cool enough to buy me and some buddies a couple of rounds back in the old Dad’s Diner days). So in spirit of that generosity, Donny, I beg of you. Please make an impact move at the trade deadline. Let’s swing for the fences. How about a top 4 defenseman AND a top 6 winger? A boy can dream.