Talking Points: Rough night for Vatrano vs. Capitals
It's getting close to the playoffs, so it means that Justin Williams is hitting his stride as the games rise in importance. Williams played the give-and-go game perfectly in the first period during a 3-on-2 transition play that turned into a Marcus Johansson goal. Williams also added the insurance marker in the closing seconds of the second period to nail down Boston’s coffin. Williams finished with a goal and two points and a plus-2 rating in 15:37 of ice time, and had a couple of takeaways and blocked shots in a reserved, veteran big game performance that was all substance, and no dazzle. The 24 goals and 48 points are a pretty solid season for him at this point.
Frank Vatrano made an ill-timed decision to go for a line change when the Bruins were facing a transition play from the Capitals, and it turned into a 3-on-2 goal-scoring play in the first period for Washington. Vatrano was benched for much of the first period after that, and played only 7:21 of ice time for the entire game while earning the wrath of Bruce Cassidy. Vatrano got a bit of a top-6 look with Brad Marchand suspended the last couple of games, and he didn’t do nearly enough with those golden, late season chances both offensively and defensively. Come playoff time those kinds of mistakes are killers, and the Bruins don’t have room for them if they want to have any success at all.
The Bruins tied things up in the second period on a nice, aggressive play by Colin Miller that eventually earned him the rebound goal. But then they immediately gave it up less than a minute later in deflating fashion. The Capitals victimized the fourth line on the ice, and Nicklas Backstrom as able to feed Kevin Shattenkirk as a trailer with a point blast that whistled through a T.J. Oshie screen on its way to the back of the net. The goal gave the Capitals a one-goal advantage back and sufficiently discouraged a Bruins group that didn’t have a great deal of fight after that. All it took as one more insurance marker at the end of the second period, that was a wrap for the Black and Gold.
Colin Miller was actually pretty good for the Bruins with the team’s only goal, a plus-1 rating in 20:22 of ice time and five shot attempts to go along with four registered hits and a couple of blocked shots. He stepped up and took the puck from Evgeny Kuznetsov at the Washington blue line before banging home the rebound after Drew Stafford drove the puck hard at the Capitals net. So he once again flashed the skills on the back end that we all know he has, but is that going to be enough to keep him in the playoff lineup moving forward with Torey Krug (lower body) and Brandon Carlo (upper body) as health question marks? I’m not so sure about that, but at least he put his best foot forward vs. the Capitals.
BY THE NUMBERS
2-9-5 – the Bruins record vs. the Capitals in their last 16 games in the kind of one-sided rivalry that doesn’t bode well for the Black and Gold if they face him in the first round of the postseason.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“I didn’t feel we were invested enough in most areas of the game to beat the first-place team in the National Hockey League. Probably that simple to me. They’re a good hockey club; they don’t have a lot of weaknesses and you’ve got to be on your A-game and we didn’t have our A-game.” – Bruce Cassidy, not satisfied with the effort he got vs. the Capitals from a B’s unit without Brad Marchand and Torey Krug.