What we learned in the Bruins’ 4-3 loss to the Capitals
What we learned in the Bruins’ 4-3 loss to the Capitals
Here’s what we learned in the Bruins’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night.
1) Patrice Bergeron will escape any supplemental discipline
Per league sources, the Bruins franchise center won’t be suspended or have any hearing over a boarding hit on Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen in the first period. Niskanen never returned to the game after going face-first into the boards, but the play was a bit of an awkward collision as it appeared the Capitals D-man was already stumbling forward before coming into contact with Bergeron. He then continued on into the end boards after losing the battle for puck possession with the Bruins center and crashed awkwardly before leaving the ice for the dressing room under his own power. Bergeron served two minutes for boarding and had Jay Beagle challenging him for the rest of the game as it appeared Washington was more bent on revenge than actually winning the game. Either way, there was no feeling that Bergeron had any bad intent from an NHL perspective and the B’s center hasn’t been that kind of player in his 13-year NHL career. So, Bergeron won’t get any repercussions from the NHL Player Safety Department for his boarding hit and there won’t be any supplemental discipline for any players in what was a physical, playoff-like intensity game with some borderline hits from each side between the two Eastern Conference teams.
2) The Bruins showed some new-found backbone and character
And they showed it in a setting, and against a team, where it has been in short supply over the past four-plus years. The Capitals have dominated the Bruins and blown them out in most meetings since Washington beat Boston in the first round of the playoffs in 2012. The Capitals have grown increasingly bigger, stronger and faster in those years, while the Bruins talent has receded a bit. The B’s have had zero answers for goaltender Braden Holtby since he arrived in Washington. So, it probably would have been very easy for the Bruins to throw in the Black and Gold towel after they went down 3-0, but instead they fought back in the second period for two goals to make it a game. Then, the Bruins dominated the third period before securing a power-play goal, and earned a point in a game where as recently as last season they would have curled up into the fetal position and ended up losing 5-0 or 6-0. Some of this is about the younger players giving the Bruins a little more unyielding determination, some of it is about the veteran players really buying into what’s going on and some of it is about David Backes’ impact in the intensity department since arriving this summer. All of it amounts to a different-feeling team from the past couple of years for the Bruins and good things portending for the Black and Gold’s future this season. The one point that the Bruins fought for could make all the difference at the end of the season when they missed the playoffs by a point in each of the past two seasons, and they would have the ballsy performance in Washington to thank for it.
3) David Pastrnak is a scoring machine
Make it 16 goals in 22 games and a score in the second period that really switched the momentum in the game and put the pressure on the Washington Capitals. You could feel the energy and confidence shifting to the Bruins after the 20-year-old undressed Braden Holtby on the partial breakaway and scored on a goaltender who the Bruins have mightily struggled against in the past. Clearly, he’s not going to score a goal in every game and he’s going to slow down from what’s a 50-plus-goal pace for this season, but Pastrnak is the game-breaking, goal-scoring force that the B’s have lacked since they traded away Tyler Seguin to Dallas in 2013. That counts for a ton with a Bruins team that hasn’t exactly been plentiful with those kinds of players over the years.
*David Pastrnak finished with three shots on net, six shot attempts, the filthy move on the way to a backhanded goal through the five-hole of Braden Holtby and four takeaways as he befuddled the Capitals with his speed and skill. It’s scary to think where the B’s would be without his 16 goals.
*Justin Williams posted the first two goals of the game for the Capitals and finally stretched his offensive muscles a little bit after what’s been an extremely quiet start to the season for him in Caps Land. It was his third and fourth goals of the season and roughly in line with his “okay” numbers he customarily posts in the regular season. The Capitals brought him in for the playoff performance, so that’s what they’re waiting for.
*Anton Blidh didn’t get credit for his first NHL goal, but did start the play that led to Boston’s first goal and picked up his first NHL point in the process. It was a nice, pesky play stealing a puck from Braden Holtby in front of the net and then flinging the puck right back at him before Dominic Moore slammed home the loose puck.
*Brandon Carlo struggled big time against the high-powered, fast, big and strong Capitals. It all started with Williams getting behind him for a tipped goal on the first shift of the game and it ended with the 20-year-old on the ice for the Capitals OT winner. He finished with a minus-2 rating and four giveaways and spent most of the game playing in a different pairing than his usual partner Zdeno Chara. He’s been great this season, but Wednesday night was one of the rare nights of struggle for him.
*One shot on net and a minus-2 rating for David Krejci in 19:16 of ice time, who was victimized with his line for each of the first two goals allowed in the first period that dug the Bruins such a big hole in the first place. Krejci has run hot and cold lately and his line wasn’t very good against an excellent, deep Capitals group.
*Tom Wilson with the “punk move” hit of the night when he drilled Anton Blidh way too late and drove the rookie right into the stanchion between the two benches. Kevan Miller tried to get at him immediately afterward, but per usual Wilson didn’t want to have to actually answer for his misdeeds on the ice.