Bruins

Bruins show once again they're not in Washington's class

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Bruins show once again they're not in Washington's class

BOSTON – Once again the Boston Bruins learned the painful, losing lesson that they’re simply not as good as the Washington Capitals.

The B’s dropped their 10th straight game to the Washington Capitals by falling 3-2 to the Caps, and haven’t been able to beat Washington since doing so twice in the month of March during the 2013-14 season. Some of that is clearly about the high-powered Capitals holding Boston’s number and Braden Holtby being a particularly stingy goaltender against them, but some of it also about simple reality that the Bruins aren’t in the same class as the Capitals.

That’s certainly true when the Bruins are missing so many core players with David Krejci, David Backes, Ryan Spooner, Adam McQuaid and Noel Acciari out the lineup, and it’s true when the Bruins are getting pushed around on the ice, and on the scoreboard, by the bigger, faster and more dangerously skilled Capitals.

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The Bruins did the exact wrong thing in spotting Washington a couple of goals in the first period with both Wilson and Ovechkin breaking through, and then spent the rest of the game attempting to get equal footing with a better hockey club. The loss snapped a streak of six straight games with a point, and left the Bruins to once again wonder exactly how well they're playing right now. 

“We had a bad start and we can’t have that, especially against a team like Washington with a lot of skills, and they made us pay in the first period,” said Patrice Bergeron, who enjoyed a great game with eight shot attempts and an assist in the 3-2 loss. “It’s tough to play catch-up hockey.”

After it was all over, the Bruins pointed toward their slow start to the game and talked about coming up just short in a one-goal loss, but they also would have been 100 percent correct to surmise that they’re currently outgunned by the high-powered Capitals. Perhaps when the Bruins are at their healthiest and their rookies have a little more experience, they may be able to stare down the Capitals.

But for now, it’s about Tom Wilson pushing around the B's unchecked, Braden Holtby keeping it a low-scoring game against the Bruins team he owns and Alex Ovechkin scoring yet another goal from the left face-off circle when everybody and their ever-loving uncle knows that’s exactly where he’ll be shooting from. It’s about Washington winning, the Bruins losing and the Black and Gold getting back to the drawing board to figure out how they’re going to beat quality teams this month with only one legitimate line now that Marchand, Pastrnak and Bergeron are on together.

“I think we had a strong 40 minutes, I think we were the better team but we can’t afford starts like [against the Capitals]. Especially against a team like Washington, that has bothered us the last couple years if I remember [correctly],” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals in the Saturday night defeat. “We always have a slow start against them. We have to take the positives, I think the last 40 minutes we were better team. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get one point at least.”

It was a good sign to see the Bruins battle back from a two-goal deficit and use a couple of David Pastrnak goals to make it interesting in the final minute, but at no point did it feel like Boston was going to pull things out against Washington. Instead, the Capitals scored Wilson’s second goal of the game in the final minute of the second period, and issued a back-breaking maneuver in the form of Wilson’s high tip of a Brooks Orpik point blast.

Unfortunately the Capitals are just one of eight opponents the Bruins will face in the month of November that qualified for the playoffs last season, and the others are red-hot teams in the Devils, LA Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning. None of the others have the same butt-kicking tradition that the Capitals currently enjoy over the B's, but it shows they are going to be hard-pressed to do little more than survive in the telltale month of November.  

So far the Bruins have taken care of business against an expansion Vegas team that’s finally getting their dose of reality, and then once again got pushed around on the playground by the bigger, stronger and meaner Capitals. It could be that kind of uneven month for an incomplete Bruins roster that will need things to go perfectly in order to enjoy some real success. 

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DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

DeBrusk providing an offensive spark for Bruins since scratch

BOSTON – Give Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk credit.

The 21-year-old rookie said that he didn’t want to go through the experience of being a healthy scratch again, and he has played like it ever since.

DeBrusk finished with a pair of assists in the Bruins 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is now riding a four-game point streak with two goals and five points in his last four games. He came up with the primary assist on Boston’s first goal when he fed David Krejci all alone cutting to the net, and then again fed Krejci in the slot on the play where the puck found Matt Grzelcyk for his first career NHL goal in the second period.

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In all DeBrusk finished with the two points in 18:46 of ice time, and had good skating legs while collecting four shots on net and a couple of hits in stringing together another solid game as a first-year player.

“It goes back to the mentality of playing fast. I think that was one of the focuses. And ever since I got scratched, I think that I’ve had some jump in all the games or at moments. I think that level of confidence and I’m also playing with great players,” said DeBrusk. “They open up a lot of space for me. And on that example, [David] Krejci’s goal, I’ve seen him do that 100 times. It’s nice to get a reward and it’s nice to get on the board, especially twice, in a game like this. I thought that we were coming along and we’re just looking to build on it.”

DeBrusk is currently on a pace for 20 goals and 48 points while battling through the natural highs and lows of being a rookie at the NHL level. The first-year winger hasn’t yet mastered the consistency component quite yet as a young player making his way through the league, but there’s little doubt DeBrusk will keep getting the chance to find that level while producing offense with his passing, skating and shooting in a key top-6 spot.

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Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

Bruins 'feeling pretty good' riding a four-game win streak

BOSTON – It was hard to imagine this could have been possible a couple of weeks ago when injuries were ripping through the roster amid a very challenging stretch of hockey, but the Bruins have managed to survive and thrive within the adversity. With several regulars still missing from the fold including leading scorer Brad Marchand, the Bruins won their fourth game in a row taking a strong 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The win allowed the Bruins to push into the third spot in the Atlantic Division and lay claim to one of the playoff spots on the day after Thanksgiving, a milestone that usually portends good things for hockey clubs sitting in that position.

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Given the winning streak and Boston’s ability to get busy living rather than getting busy dying amid the trying stretch, confidence is at the high mark just a couple of months into the regular season.

“I still think that collectively as a group, there are still things that we need to build on. But obviously, we can’t complain with four straight wins,” said Jake DeBrusk, who has two goals, five points and a plus-4 in the four-game winning streak. “It’s our first win streak of the season and everyone’s feeling pretty good right now. We’re doing everything we can to keep things going.”

There have been different components to the four-game streak that have made it possible. Young players like Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Charlie McAvoy have stepped up and brandished their offensive skills while making things happen for a team missing some of their offensive playmakers, and the energy has been contagious. The Bruins have learned how to become closers in the third period where they’re squeezing the life out of opponents rather than giving them hope for stealing the game.

Anton Khudobin has ripped off win after win after win after win, and has made all the important stops to ensure that the Bruins take points out of each and every game. His .944 save percentage over the winning streak is exactly the level of goaltending needed for the Bruins to execute their game plan, and it’s why they have played with a lead for all but a couple of minutes in those wins over Los Angeles, San Jose, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

The quick starts have allowed the Bruins to play with the kind of controlled aggression that brings out their best and quit chasing the game while closing things down in the final 20 minutes. It’s much closer to the way things were drawn up by the coaching staff prior to the start of the season before their personnel group was ripped apart by injuries. Friday’s performance was what Bruce Cassidy is looking for from his young, excitable Bruins team on a big stage against a high quality Eastern Conference opponent.

“I mentioned [the magnitude of Friday] before the game, because I think it’s exciting. You’re on NBC, you’re playing against the Stanley Cup Champions, and everyone is watching. . . let’s put our best foot forward. I know it’s one of 82, but it’s a bigger one of 82 the way I look at it,” said Cassidy. “I think they felt the same way coming out [of the starting gate]. Now, I also think with a young group you’re always a little more juiced up at home; they’re still in that stage of their career. So, I think that explained a lot of their start, and why we were better early on.”

So now the beat goes on for the Bruins amid their best stretch of hockey this season at a very opportune time. Perhaps now the B’s start wondering just how good they can be once they finally get their full lineup together for the first time during this entire hockey season. 

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