Bruins

Claude Julien laments Bruins 'gifts' given to Oilers in loss

Claude Julien laments Bruins 'gifts' given to Oilers in loss

BOSTON – The Christmas holiday is over, but the Bruins are still in a gift-giving mood according to their head coach.

The Bruins outshot the Edmonton Oilers by a 36-25 margin through their three periods of action, but made enough defensive miscues to hand the Oil a 4-3 win.

The worst was the goals given up in the opening minutes of both the first period and the third period where it felt like the Bruins weren’t ready when Edmonton really crammed the pressure down Boston’s throat. Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara were simply put on their heels by the speed of Connor McDavid at the start of the first period, and he simply unleashed a backhanded saucer pass across the ice for an easy Patrick Maroon tap-in.

“All around the ice, I think we need to improve [in all situations],” said Zdeno Chara. “There is no one thing, one part of the game that we can be happy with. There is pretty much every area that we can be better in and improve.”

Then it was Maroon winning a battle with Adam McQuaid in front of the net in the second period, and hopping on a rebound of an Eric Gryba point shot. The real backbreaker, though, was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scoring just 14 seconds into the third period on a play where he crashed the net and allowed the puck to bounce off him and win.

Credit Nugent-Hopkins for hustling to make it happen, but the Bruins were being beaten to puck battles when the game was being decided. That’s on them and part of this whole unwanted gift-giving philosophy from the B’s bench boss, and just not a smart style of play against a high-end Oilers group.  

“We struggle because we give gifts like we did tonight. We were the better team; we played well and I thought we should have won that game – there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have won that game,” said Claude Julien. “But when you have the type of breakdowns and the type of goals that you give to other teams when they hardly had anything…we decide to give gifts and then you don’t win at home. So, that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to be better that way.”

The Bruins dropped to 9-10 on home ice this season with the loss, and they could start any kind of revival with a bit more of a commitment on the ice to focused play, and much less worrying about the teams below them in the standings that are inevitably closing in on the Bruins in the Atlantic Division.

DeBrusk sparkles in first steps on postseason stage

debrusk.jpg
File Photo

DeBrusk sparkles in first steps on postseason stage

TORONTO -- It will go down as the big insurance goal in Boston’s titanic Game 4 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it was also another stamp on the NHL rookie passport for Jake DeBrusk.

DeBrusk scored his second goal of the postseason finishing off a sweet David Krejci setup on a transition play in the third period of Thursday night’s game, giving the Bruins the insurance goal they needed in a 3-1 victory, and spent the moments afterward thinking about just how fortunate he’s been in this first NHL campaign.

“I knew it was coming the whole time, but the defensemen kind of slid and I saw the puck in the air,” said DeBrusk. “That’s just [Krejci] doing his thing and the next thing I knew the puck was on my tape. I had a wide-open net and I don’t know too many guys that are going to miss that. It was a gritty play by him, and that’s why he’s been who he’s been during his time with the Bruins. He’s a special player and he’s special for me to play with.”

The 21-year-old kid has already passed his old man, former NHL tough guy and current Canadian TV analyst Louie DeBrusk, in career NHL playoff points, and is on a team that’s one game away from advancing to the second round. For the Bruins, the two goals in four playoff games has been solid production from a youngster who's been arguably the best player on his forward line to this point in the series.

MORE HAGGERTY

Actually, it’s not much of an argument. DeBrusk has been the best player on his line to date, and that means he’s been leading the way for much bigger names like Krejci and Rick Nash in a playoff run where the Bruins will need more overall from their second line.

“It’s nice . . . to see these young guys enjoying the moment,” said coach BruceCassidy. “We saw it with Charlie [McAvoy] last year. They’re learning how to play winning hockey in April, and hopefully into May and June. That’s the idea. Because they’re in the lineup and we trust them to play ‘X’ number of minutes, [and] that’s what’s going to be required for us to be successful.

“They certainly don’t have to lead our team, and we’re not relying on them every night to lead our team. But just do your part, play hard and play well, play the right way this time of year and you’ll get opportunities to grow. Jake is finding it a bit offensively. The puck is finding him. It was a great play by Krejci and he had a couple of good looks. It’s working out well for him, and we’re going to need it because we can’t rely on just one line to score all our goals.”

For a hockey nut like DeBrusk, this is “pinch me” territory.

“I think I’m settling in okay. I enjoy it,” said DeBrusk, who led the Bruins with seven hits in a physical, board-battle filled effort that ended with his nifty finish around the net in the final period. “I like the physical intensity and everything [the playoffs] brings: The noise, the energy and pretty much everything about it. It’s what you play for.

"I’m really lucky to have this opportunity in my rookie year and on this team, and where I am in the lineup. I understand that as well so I’m just trying to enjoy every moment of it. You don’t really enjoy it when you lose, but you sure do when you win.”

If it turns out to be a long playoff run, there will certainly be other chances for different rookies to have their moments; there are so many of them on the B’s, ranging from McAvoy to Danton Heinen to Matt Grzelcyk to Sean Kuraly and even to Ryan Donato, who's currently out of the lineup. But it’s DeBrusk who's the rookie with the most veteran-like game who's off to a fast start in the postseason, and really seizing the rare rookie opportunity being given to him by the Bruins right now.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

'Positive' sign for Bergeron - he's skating, not ruled out for Game 5

'Positive' sign for Bergeron - he's skating, not ruled out for Game 5

Patrice Bergeron was back on the practice ice at Warrior Arena on Friday, skating on his own. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy wouldn't rule out his top-line center returning for a possible close-out Game 5 Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

Bergeron was a last-minute scratch from the B's 3-1 Game 4 victory over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Thursday night with an upper-body injury. Boston has a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and can advance to the second round with a win Saturday night.

More to come...