Talking Points: Spooner, third line struggle vs. strong Ducks team
Rickard Rakell continues his charmed season with a two-goal performance against the Bruins. Rackell scored the Anaheim goal that tied the game in the second period when he pursued a puck that eventually got through Tuukka Rask when the Bruins goalie kicked a puck passed the goal line that had been resting underneath him in the crease. Rakell then scored again in the third period for the eventual game-winner to go along with his five shots on net and 6-of-11 face-off wins in just 12:55 of ice time. The two goals have now bumped Rakell up to a career-high 24 goals on the season for a Ducks team that has needed every last one of them from the hard-working Anaheim forward.
Ryan Spooner has been pretty good for the Bruins since the coaching change, but Wednesday a big, physical Anaheim team seemed to expose some of the small center’s real weak spots. Spooner finished a team-worst minus-3 in the loss with just a single shot on net and a 1-for-6 performance in the face-off circle during a game where everybody not named Bergeron or Moore struggled on the draw. Some of it wasn’t really Spooner’s fault on pucks that ended up in the back of the Boston net, but that Bruins third line had their first really poor outing in the five games under Bruce Cassidy. Spooner wasn’t totally alone as David Pastrnak also finished a yuk-worthy minus-3 when it was all said and done, and captured a Bruins team that just never tightened enough defensively.
The Bruins fell behind starting in the second period on a rebound goal in front from Josh Manson that exposed a blasé defensive approach from the Black and Gold. Adam McQuaid, David Pastrnak and Peter Cehlarik were all caught watching the puck as Nick Ritchie crashed the net on a wraparound with Torey Krug along for the ride, and then didn’t react at all once Manson jumped in front to knock home the rebound. Unfortunately for the Bruins they had no ability to challenge whether the play was onside (which it wasn’t) because they had challenged a goalie interference call vs. Brad Marchand earlier in the game. That left B’s coach Bruce Cassidy without the timeout he needed to challenge the play and perhaps stem the tide of Anaheim’s attack a bit.
David Backes assisted on each of the first two Boston goals by making some smart passes to the point to set up Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara. Those passes gave the hard-nosed right winger the two points, allowed him to finish with a plus-3 rating despite the Ducks scoring five goals. Backes only finished with one shot on net over 16:55 of ice time in a less-than-aggressive night for his own offense with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand combining for 10 shots on net. So it wasn’t all great for Backes despite the excellent numbers in a loss against Anaheim, but at least he showed up and played with size and toughness against a big, strong and heavy Western Conference team. Unfortunately too many of Backes’ teammates didn’t have that same kind of effort against a Ducks team that came ready to play.
BY THE NUMBERS
798 – the number of Bruins games played by Zdeno Chara after Wednesday night in Anaheim, which allows the B’s captain to pass P.J. Axelsson for the most in franchise history among players born outside North America.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“I definitely feel like we could have won that game if he we put the puck in the back of the net like we needed to. It doesn’t happen every night for us and the bounces weren’t there for us.” – rookie D-man Brandon Carlo to reporters after the loss in Anaheim.