Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the return of Adolfo to Toucher and Rich this morning.
*Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid have received plenty of acclaim over the past couple of years as talented, young stars in the league, but Pro Hockey Talk’s James O’Brien details how things haven’t gone ideally for either of those youngsters, or their teams, this season. Clearly, it’s not at this level yet, but just think about the hype behind Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin when they were drafted 1-2 back in 2010, and what they have, and haven’t, been able to accomplish in the league since that time.
*Outstanding rookie Brock Boeser credits a conversation with Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green for helping spark his game this season.
*Good video piece on the near miss of Wayne Gretzky almost playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs after dominating them in the playoffs.
*Salivating for some hockey trades? The 10 potential NHL trade deadline targets around the league as we wait for players to become available for trade later in the season.
*Hockeybuzz is asking what the NHL, and more specifically the Hockey Hall of Fame, has against goaltenders?
*For something completely different: A great piece from Drew Bledsoe on the tragic passing of former Patriots wide receiver Terry Glenn, and how his death came just as he seemed to be putting all the pieces of his life together.
GOLD STAR: Former Boston University standout Evan Rodrigues had a heck of a game against the Bruins with a goal and two points in his 15:31 of ice time, including the dagger third goal for Buffalo that really broke the spirits of the Black and Gold. It was a beauty of a goal too as he was able to flash to the face-off circle and step into a dish from Sam Reinhart that Anton Khudobin didn’t have any chance of stopping. In all Rodrigues had two shots on net, six shot attempts and won 6-of-10 draws in the face-off circle in a pretty solid all-around night for the Sabres. It’s still early in his pro career, obviously, but maybe there is a bright future for more than one BU kid out in Buffalo?
BLACK EYE: No shots on net and a killer giveaway for Danton Heinen in the offensive zone that led to Buffalo’s back-breaking third goal meant it wasn’t a very good night for the Bruins rookie. It really wasn’t much of a positive night for many of Boston’s young players as 21-year-old Brandon Carlo was a healthy scratch, Heinen’s only play of consequence was a very negative one and Jake DeBrusk didn’t have a shot on net in his 13:52 of ice time. Clearly though the roughest night was for Heinen as he was the player that couldn’t make the strong play when he needed to, and that really short-circuited any attempts by the Bruins to mount a comeback against Buffalo. The Bruins know they’re going to have to weather the storm with their young guys through a tough end of the season, and Sunday night was one of the examples of just that.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins just didn’t come out ready to play less than 24 hours after losing to Toronto, and dropped behind by a pair of goals in the middle of the first period. One was a Sabres power play that had just expired, and the second was a PP goal allowed to Buffalo with Patrice Bergeron getting his mouth fixed in the B’s dressing room and Zdeno Chara in the box serving a penalty. That was a point where somebody had to step up on the Bruins penalty kill unit and they didn’t with Sam Reinhart screening Anton Khudobin as Kyle Okposo fired a shot through the screen on the way to the back of the net. The Bruins managed just eight shots on net in the period, gave up two goals and didn’t have their legs in a bad, bad start for the Black and Gold.
HONORABLE MENTION: Rick Nash didn’t put any pucks past old friend Chad Johnson, but he did give a preview of what he might be able to do in a Bruins uniform. Nash finished with five shots on net, nine shot attempts and dinged one off the inside of the far post after David Krejci had dropped a pass to him in the high slot area. Nash and Krejci looked like they had instant chemistry together, which is great news for the Black and Gold looking for a second line that’s going to generate more offense for the rest of the season. The hope now for Nash is that he’ll start putting home some of those shots as he gets settled into a Bruins uniform, and will be the power forward-type that Krejci has always flourished with in the past.
BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of consecutive regulation losses this weekend with defeats to Toronto and Buffalo, the first time since mid-November that the B’s have lost two games in a row in regulation.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's no secret about it. We want to make a run. Obviously a trade like [the Rick Nash deal] makes our team better." –David Krejci.
BUFFALO – The Bruins knew going in that it was going to be a tough one against the Buffalo Sabres at the end of a long five game road trip, and that’s exactly what they played like on the ice.
The Bruins never held a lead and were never really in a 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the KeyBank Center that saw them lose their third game to the lowly Sabres in four tries this season. Instead it was the Sabres that jumped out with a pair of goals scored in the first period and never looked back in a game where the Black and Gold clearly didn’t have their “A” game.
Old friend Benoit Pouliot scored on a scramble in front right after a Sabres power play had expired, and two minutes later Kyle Okposo fired a power play goal through a Sam Reinhart screen right in front of Anton Khudobin.
The Bruins responded a bit in the second period with Charlie McAvoy’s sixth of the season after crashing backdoor to finish off a David Pastrnak feed, but they couldn’t score again despite a 16 shot barrage in the middle 20 minutes. Instead Evan Rodrigues stepped into a shot that fired past Khudobin to extend the Sabres lead. Marco Scandella clinched it when he threw a long distance shot off the side boards that seemed to surprise Khudobin at the net.
The good news for the Bruins was that newcomer Rick Nash looked pretty good wearing a No. 61 Bruins uniform and had a number of scoring chances throughout the game teamed up with David Krejci on Boston’s second line. But otherwise the only positive development was that Patrice Bergeron was able to play despite sustaining a right foot injury in Saturday night’s loss to the Leafs, and getting the double whammy of a high stick to the face in the first period of Sunday’s loss as well.