TORONTO – The Bruins failed to hold a one-goal lead in the final minute of Friday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it ended up costing them a point, and some pointed words from their head coach.
The Bruins had their shutdown defenseman pair on the ice with Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo, and they had another trusted defender in Riley Nash out on the ice with Tim Schaller and Noel Acciari. A number of those players had chances to clear the puck after Toronto had pulled their goalie, but instead, James van Riemsdyk redirected a goal amid a scramble in front to tie things in an eventual 3-2 overtime win for Toronto.
The Bruins allowed a power-play goal to van Riemsdyk in the second period that was also a scramble in front of the net, and the Maple Leafs scored little more than a minute into OT after David Pastrnak’s gamble turned into an odd-man rush for Toronto. But it was the lack of execution in the defensive zone in the final minute of the third period that weathered the sharpest arrows from a displeased bench boss following the game.
“On the tying goal we had three guys with the puck that we trust to get the job done, and we just couldn’t get it out. We were soft on it. We can’t sugarcoat it. That’s what happened,” said B’s coach Bruce Cassidy. “If you have to ice it, that’s fine. We’re not against it in those situations even if it’s not our first choice obviously, but we didn’t get it out and they made a play. Once you get that many guys around the net you get fatigued, and they had one more guy out on the ice than we did. They found him.”
The unfortunate part of the whole thing is that one minute of shoddy defense at the end of the third period wiped out 59 minutes of good, hard work that had put Boston in a position to take two points out of Toronto against a Leafs team playing without Auston Matthews. Instead, they gave up a point in the OT loss that should have been theirs, and the Bruins have to hope that doesn’t become one of the wasted points at the end of the season that plays a role in their Stanley Cup playoff lives.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while trying to figure out when exactly I’m going to be able to go see the new Star Wars movie.
*The New York Islanders were crying in their beer over the fact that Brad Marchand side-stepped a suspension and claimed it was because John Tavares didn’t writhe around, kick and scream on the ice like a soccer player. The truth is the play wasn’t the kind of thing that’s going to injure a player under normal circumstances but was clearly a late, uncalled for hit. That’s why it got the five-minute major penalty and nothing more. Threatening to give an award-winning acting performance next time in order to try and get a suspension for an opposing player just sounds like crybaby soup from the Isles. Buckle the chin strap and get ready to play a contact sport next time, particularly if you’re Tavares, who was hacking at Charlie McAvoy’s legs with your stick like you’re Paul Bunyan chopping at a piece of wood. It works both ways, you know?
*The Winnipeg Jets continue to be one of the excellent, unsung stories of the NHL’s first half as they really take hold at the top of the Western Conference.
*Here’s a good piece on Jonathan Quick and what his good health has meant to a resurgent Los Angeles Kings team this season.
*Former Boston College standout goalie Thatcher Demko is way ahead of schedule in the Vancouver Canucks organization, but they’re not looking to rush him.
*Here’s a great video of a youngster playing the Star-Spangled Banner on the violin prior to a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Well done, young lady!
*Pro Hockey Talk as the details of the Ducks and Red Wings getting into a fight on Monday night ahead of the Bruins traveling to Hockeytown for a Wednesday night showdown.
*For something completely different: A list of the 10 actors who could replace Ben Affleck as Batman now that DC has given up the charade that they’re not intending to replace him underneath the cowl.
BRIGHTON, Mass – Ryan Spooner has practiced in each of the past two days, but his status is still in question for the back-to-back Bruins games against the Red Wings and Capitals over the next couple of days.
Spooner has missed the past couple of games with a lower-body injury after playing in the previous five contests following a month-long layoff with a groin injury. The current injury is believed to be similar in nature to the original groin problem and that’s the reason the Bruins are treating it cautiously as they approach Wednesday night’s game in Detroit.
“He’s practicing fully with the team, and the long and short of it is that he’s still day-to-day. We’ll decide [on Wednesday] but we just want to keep moving forward with him,” said Bruce Cassidy, who also mentioned that Kevan Miller was missing from practice to be with his wife for the birth of their child. “We’ve had a couple of stops and starts with him, so we’re going to manage it to the best of our ability so we’re moving forward [in his recovery]. He’ll travel with the team, and if we decide that he’s in the lineup [vs. the Red Wings] then Donnie [Sweeney] and I will talk about how that’s going to affect our roster.”
Spooner has played 10 games this season, with a goal and four points in the intermittent action. It’s too bad as Spooner has been pretty good when healthy and has played with speed and a higher level of competitiveness this season when he’s actually suited up.
The problem with Spooner’s return at this point, however, is that the Bruins have a third line of Danton Heinen, Riley Nash and David Backes that’s been gaining traction in recent days and had a monster game vs. Arizona last week. A return from injured reserve for Spooner would mean that the Bruins finally have to make a tough roster choice. Either put a player such as Frank Vatrano on waivers or send a young player such as Sean Kuraly down who deserves to stay based on his performance.
With Spooner’s status in question for the next two games, here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Tuukka Rask set to get the start Wednesday night in Detroit: