TALKING POINTS: Bruins limp home after long road trip

TALKING POINTS: Bruins limp home after long road trip

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.


The banged up Bruins have two more injured players in Nash, McQuaid

The banged up Bruins have two more injured players in Nash, McQuaid

BOSTON – It’s another day and another injured player, or two, for the Boston Bruins.

Veteran right winger Rick Nash was a late scratch for the Bruins on Monday night against the Blue Jackets after getting banged up in last weekend’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid had to exit due to injury in the third period of Monday night’s 5-4 overtime loss at TD Garden.  

“[Nash] got hit in Tampa, so we thought he was fine. He had an upper-body injury,” said Bruce Cassidy. “This morning, pregame skate, we thought he’d be fine, and it turned out after pregame skate, early afternoon, he wasn’t. So, you know, we had to make a call for Anton Blidh.”

The Nash absence forced the Bruins to recall Blidh from Providence on emergency recall and plug him into the lineup not using him in the last couple of road games in Florida, and it also pushed 21-year-old rookie Ryan Donato into a top-6 role alongside David Krejci in his NHL debut. Clearly things worked out for Donato with a 1-goal, 3-point performance in his first NHL game, and that along with some quality organizational depth is helping them withstand some of the injuries.

McQuaid was held to just 10:42 of ice time that was the fewest among all Bruins D-men on Monday night, but it was unclear exactly what befell him on the ice injury-wise.  

It is getting a little ridiculous for a Bruins team that’s missing Patrice Bergeron (fractured right foot), Zdeno Chara (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (sprained left MCL), David Backes (right leg laceration) and now may have to go without Nash (upper body) and McQuaid (undisclosed) as well. Clearly it’s something the Bruins will have to play through for the time being while simply hoping that it all conveniently clears up ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“You know, you call a player up [from the AHL], right? We signed one out of college; that helped. So, that’s it. [The injuries] are uncontrollable to a certain extent. It’s kind of enough, now. I would agree. We’ve had our share, so let’s get these guys healthy and get ready to play,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know. You’ve got to play the game in front of you and you just hope the string of, kind of, tough luck, is over.

“That’s it. It’s a physical game. We’ve said all along, to have successful seasons, both regular and playoffs, you need a certain level of health. That’s what we’re hoping, that these guys come back, and that’s it. Until then, we plug the holes and play the game in front of you.”

Plugging those holes will continue to get more and more challenging if the Bruins keep losing players from their lineup on a nightly basis as they may have on Monday with both Nash and McQuaid now banged up as well.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

1:13 - Joe Haggerty joins from the TD Garden to discuss the non-call on Brad Marchand’s breakaway, Ryan Donato shining in his NHL debut, and when Patrice Bergeron could be returning.

6:16 - Gary Tanguay, Mike Giardi, and Trenni Kusnierek debate if the Patriots are starting to replace the talent they’ve lost this offseason as they have acquired Adrian Clayborn, Jeremy Hill, and Jason McCourty. 

11:01 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Boston Sports Tonight to talk about the Celtics continuing to struggle as the injuries have piled up.