Slow Start = No Finish

Your Boston Bruins traveled to Long Island tonight to take on the Islanders at brand spanking new UBS Arena in Elmont, NY. The woeful Islanders have only won 4 games since the beginning of November heading into tonight; going 4-13 over that span. The Bruins were feeling the bite of the NHL’s Covid protocol as a plethora of players were sidelined with the dreaded positive test result. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Craig Smith, Jeremy Swayman, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh and Oskar Steen were all DQ’ed with Steen being shut down an hour before puck drop forcing the B’s to skate with 11 forwards in tonight’s game.

Linus Ullmark got the start in net (backed by emergency callup Kyle Keyser) while Semyon Varlamov got the nod for the Islanders. Varlamov was winless heading into tonight’s game with a record of 0-5-1 on the season, all while carrying a 3.29GAA and .884% save percentage. The Islanders were also missing offensive whiz Mathew Barzal who was placed in the NHL Covid protocol 2 days ago.

The Bruins had Charlie Coyle centering Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak with Tomas Nosek in between Erik Haula and Nick Foligno. The 3rd line was Jake DeBrusk with Jack Studnicka at the pivot and Jesper Froden (pronounced Fro-deen) on the other wing. The makeshift 4th line was Curtis Lazar at the pivot and Karson Kuhlman at the wing and a rotating winger on the other side. On defense the Bruins had their top 6 available with Charlie McAvoy and Derek Forbort, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk and Mike Reilly with Connor Clifton.

Cal Clutterbuck got NY on the board midway through the first when he was left all alone in front of Ullmark. A loose puck behind the Bruins net was dug out by Casey Cizikas (with 3 Bruins back there with him), and landed on Clutterbuck’s stick below the dots. Clutterbuck went far side over the glove and the Islanders were on the board. A couple of things about this play: How on earth does Cizikas not get the apple here? And what the hell was Pastrnak doing watching this play with no backcheck? I guess when you skate with Bergy and Marchand all the time you don’t have to play defense?

Originally tweeted by New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) on December 17, 2021.

An early power play in the 2nd period saw Anthony Beauvillier net the game winner when he uncorked one from the LW circle. The Isles moved the puck with pace on the man advantage and worked the puck over to Beauvillier who walked down the wing with Zach Parise setting the screen in front of Ullmark. Jean-Gabriel Pageau drove the net as Beauvillier let the shot go and through the confusion he was able to beat Ullmark over the glove far side. 2-0 Islanders.

Originally tweeted by New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) on December 17, 2021.

Foligno tried to get the Bruins to emotionally by in when he took on Matt Martin later in the period for an (uncalled) elbow on Pastrnak, I’d give this one in a decision to Foligno as he kept Martin under wraps and landed some good shots. But of course, Foligno got the extra 2 for a rough at the start of the fight. I said it on the podcast and I’ll say it again here, if Foligno can’t take people with him to the box then he’s got to try a different approach.

Originally tweeted by Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) on December 17, 2021.

Late in the 3rd the Bruins pulled Ullmark and of course, Clutterbuck got the ENG for the 3-0 NY lead. Mike Reilly got the Bruins back within a pair when he finished his solo rush with a rising shot that ramped up off Scott Mayfield’s blade ruining Varlamov’s bid for the shutout.

Originally tweeted by PuckingOff™ (Jason Scales) (@PuckingOff) on December 17, 2021.

The Bruins were flat and out of joint for almost the entire opening period. They rallied back in the 2nd and 3rd, but by then Varlamov seemed to get his feet under him and had settled in. At that point it was all over, nothing builds confidence for a goalie when he’s stopping everything, and Varlamov did that en route to a season high 40 saves.

The Bruins will stay overnight on the Island and then head home briefly before they head to Canada for a Saturday tilt in Montreal and a late afternoon game on Sunday in Ottawa. The way Covid is ramping up in Canada and the amount of players the B’s have in protocol, keep an eye on this situation as it could easily get shut down. 

Plus/Minus

Plus:

  • I liked the way Jesper Froden played. I thought he was solid on the forecheck and didn’t look overmatched in his first NHL game. He wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire in Providence, (4-9-13 in 21GP) but he didn’t look out of place in an NHL game.
  • I’m not blaming either of those goals on Linus Ullmark. You can’t leave a guy alone in front of the net in the NHL and the other was a PPG through a screen.

Minus:

  • When you’re missing the guys the Bruins were missing, it’s a lot to ask of everyone else. With that being said; did the Bruins coaching staff put them in the best position to win this game? Were those the best lines they could have come up with? I think not. For what it’s worth, this would have been my lineup:
    • Hall – Studnicka – Pastrnak
    • Haula – Coyle – Kuhlman
    • Lazar – Nosek – Foligno
    • DeBrusk – Froden

Game Notes:

  • Good to see Butch Goring back calling NYI games tonight. He’s missed the last 7 games recovering from shoulder surgery.
  • Linus Ullmark got his first point of the season when he got the apple on Mike Reilly’s goal.
  • Cal Clutterbuck missed a hat trick tonight by about an inch when his bid for a 2nd ENG went off the post. But scoring goals isn’t all his game is made up of: Clutterbuck has had 10 seasons of 200+ hits in his NHL career and has had 4 seasons of 300+ hits. To put that in context: Jake DeBrusk has 194 hits IN TOTAL for his entire 5 year NHL career.
  • While we’re on the subject of DeBrusk. When your team is down players and you expect the other guys to step up, you would think the guy who’s trying to make himself attractive for a trade would do so. Not this guy. Another night full of gliding and and periphery play, who in their right mind would actually trade for him with this type of game on tape?

As always, let me know how much you agree with me @abrow28 or if you feel like you have the stones for it, call in to the podcast and we’ll give you a platform (518) 309-2595. Leave a message, give your own lineup, ask a question or come up with a 3 stars for Ked and I to hash out. It’s all welcome!

Author: Brownie

A legacy that was born on the frozen rivers in Northern Saskatchewan then later forged on the ponds of New England. Playing with the heart of a warrior and the soul of a poet; always living by the credo handed down by generations of beer-league beauties that came before him. Skate Hard - Quick Changes - Win the Parking Lot.

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