Bruins

Bruins closing in on the right chemistry to get over the hump against the top dogs

Bruins closing in on the right chemistry to get over the hump against the top dogs

BOSTON -- It has to be getting to the point where the Bruins are tired of talking about defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals, but if it’s that bothersome then they really ought to do something about it.

The Bruins dropped their 11th straight game to the Washington Capitals with a 5-3 defeat at TD Garden on Thursday on the second night of a back-to-back after getting in from snowy Detroit in the wee hours of the morning around 3 a.m.

The Bruins outshot the Capitals by a 37-21 margin and they managed to claw away for three goals against Caps netminder Braden Holtby, who routinely shuts down the Black and Gold. But they also once again got pushed around by a bigger, stronger and deeper Capitals hockey club, and showed their youth in the most important points of the game against Washington.

It might have felt like it was encouraging for the Bruins to hit three crossbars in the loss, but the bottom line is that the B’s haven’t defeated the Capitals in any way, shape, or form since 2014. The Bruins continue to come up short against a high-powered Capitals attack and routinely choose the wrong time to loosen up and compete in an offensive shootout with Washington. The team needs to find a balance between being responsibility and agressiveness. 

“I think we’re all aware of it,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We haven’t had much success at all [against the Capitals]. They usually bring up the goaltender while the team plays well in front of him every time they play us. He’s got to be the benefactor, too. I thought [Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby] was very good for them. We needed more traffic because, because he plays so well against us in front of them, and we got a little late in the game, to get some second chances. Having said that we hit, I think, at least two or three crossbars, or posts. A couple other [shots] I thought were labeled that he made saves, and then a couple that we didn’t execute well enough in front of him."

“The first period, you know, we weren’t crisp in front of them. We had a couple opportunities, so part of that was probably due to the late arrival [coming from Detroit], but then we got going. That’s where we need to be better against him, so only the players can answer that, if they’re squeezing their sticks against him and this team. I don’t know if it’s in their heads, necessarily, at this time of year.”

Holtby has owned the Bruins for the better part of his with a career 13-2-0 record against the Bruins. A 1.81 career goals against average vs. Boston is incredible considering the amount of games they have played against one another. But this loss wasn’t about Holtby. The two teams combined for eight goals in somewhat of an offensive shootout. Washington’s goaltending was merely part of the backdrop of the Bruins once again getting pushed around versus the bigger, more talented, and experienced Caps. Young players like Charlie McAvoy, Anders Bjork, Brandon Carlo and Jake DeBrusk experiencing a bit of a rude awakening matching up against a grizzled, competitive Capitals bunch.

“At some point you definitely want to get it over with and win those games [versus the Capitals]. It’s not something necessarily that I was thinking before the game being honest with you,” said Patrice Bergeron, who scored a pair goals in defeat at the hands of the Capitals. “It was a back-to-back game. We knew it was a challenge and we had to be good and be smart. A few breakdowns and a little lack of discipline made us pay is the bottom line.”

In the past it’s been total men versus boys when the Bruins suited up against the Capitals in the entertaining rivalry. The one-sided results left the Bruins and their fans exasperated. This time around it was clear that the Bruins have closed some of the gaps separating them from the big Capitals bully in the Eastern Conference neighborhood, but none of it matters until they put up some points against them.

The Bruins need productive yet responsible offense play, stifling defense and lights out goaltending. If they can put it all these elements together the Bruins will show that they have closed the gap between themselves and the Capitals. They’re not there yet, but tonight was proof that they might be closing in on the right chemistry to bring home a victory. Once they get over this hump, the Bruins won’t have anthing to fear playing the Caps anymore.

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McQuaid makes impact in return to B's lineup after lengthy absence

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McQuaid makes impact in return to B's lineup after lengthy absence

BOSTON – Adam McQuaid had to wait months to get healthy and weeks to finally push back into the lineup once he was over his broken leg, but that was all in the rear view mirror when he made his return to the B’s lineup on Wednesday night. McQuaid was his solid, simple self on the ice in Boston’s 4-1 humbling of the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden, and immediately made an impact with his size, strength, physicality and penalty killing in the win.

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Afterward McQuaid was happy with the plus-1 rating in 15:12 of ice time while working mostly with rookie Matt Grzelcyk, and he even managed to get four pucks on net while playing assertive, aggressive hockey in the O-Zone. All in all it was a strong return after missing the past 36 games with a broken leg, and it was a much needed dose of again feeling like he’s a part of the team for the selfless, hard-working McQuaid.  

“I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just went with the first shift and then the second, and just went down from there. I wanted to try to keep things really simple, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] made life pretty easy to play with…he played really well,” said McQuaid. “All the guys did, so it was nice to be back and be a part of the win, I’m happy to be back.

“It’s nice to be in those situations – you don’t want to be – to be put in that situation. I think guys thrive off of wanting to kill that and be in those situations. Even though I was a little winded at the end of it, it was a good feeling for sure.”

The part that winded McQuaid was killing off a key 5-on-3 Canadiens power play in a tight, one goal game in the second period. McQuaid was second only to Zdeno Chara with his 1:34 of shorthanded ice time in the win over the Bruins, and the PK is clearly a situation where the rich get richer when the shot-blocking, rugged McQuaid draws back into the fold with Kevan Miller “under the weather” this week. 

“We did a good job, real good job [on the penalty kill]. It doesn’t surprise me,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Adam [McQuaid] is very good on the kill. We’ve said that all along, that’s one area we miss when he is out of the lineup.”

Now McQuaid will continue knocking any residual rust off by again drawing into Boston’s lineup on Thursday night in Brooklyn as Miller was left behind in Boston, and a respected B’s veteran is finally getting some run after a long wait. 

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Morning Skate: PK Subban rightly recognizes O'Ree as a hockey pioneer

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Morning Skate: PK Subban rightly recognizes O'Ree as a hockey pioneer

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading, while wondering when my video tribute is coming.

*Great interview with PK Subban, who appropriately lauds Willie O’Ree for his trailblazing, pioneer accomplishment of breaking through the NHL’s color barrier 60 years ago today. It was very cool that O’Ree did it with the Bruins and even cooler that he was in Boston last night from the Bruins-Habs game at TD Garden.

*Speaking of the Canadiens, old friend Joe Morrow decided to show the Canadiens digital people around Southie this week. That was his big accomplishment in these last two Bruins-Habs games.

*The Winnipeg Jets are having some big success this season, but they’ve also got some serious financial considerations coming up.

*The Colorado Avalanche continue to see attendance issues in their building, but at least there’s a reasonably better product on the ice.

*What is the value for power forward Patrick Maroon on the trade market as a rental? It certainly matters who is asking.

*Jack Johnson and John Tortorella are talking out their issues after it surfaced that the Columbus D-man wants a trade out of town.

*With Victor Hedman injured, it looks like young Tampa Bay D-man Slater Koekkoek is finally going to get a featured look with the Lightning. Per Elliotte Friedman, this is a player that the Bruins have eyed in trade possibilities in the recent past.

*For something completely different: Liam Neeson is open to returning as Qui Gon-Jinn, which adds another interesting piece to a standalone movie for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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