GOLD STAR: Mitch Marner finished with a goal and two points, a plus-2 and 10 shot attempts in 13:57 of ice time, and helped the Leafs get out to a fast lead with both teams looking to get off to a quick start. It was Marner that picked off an errant Brandon Carlo outlet pass, and immediately snapped a shot over the shoulder of Tuukka Rask to give Toronto a quick lead. Marner was again part of the combination that pushed the third goal past Rask in the third period as well, and that score essentially iced the game for Toronto. Marner has struggled for Toronto for large portions of the still-young season, but his game got healthy pretty quickly against the Bruins.
BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo called himself the “Achilles Heel” after the game was over, and while it might have been a bit overly harsh, it certainly wasn’t wrong. Carlo blew the outlet pass up the middle on a gift-wrapped turnover that Mitch Marner turned into Toronto’s first goal, and it was his hooking call that almost immediately led to Toronto’s power play strike. To top it all off, Carlo screened Tuukka Rask on Toronto’s third goal before unintentionally redirecting the puck past the Bruins goaltender on a truly bad luck play. Carlo finished with a minus-2 rating in 15:17 of ice time, and should just be focused on bouncing back from a rough couple of nights against Toronto as quickly as possible.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins outshot the Maple Leafs by a 13-11 margin in the second period and were only down by a 2-1 score at that point, but they couldn’t get anything past Toronto backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney during the barrage. The best chance was a Patrice Bergeron lead pass to Brad Marchand in front of the net, but McElhinney was able to stuff Marchand’s backhanded bid and get the puck out of danger. Once the Maple Leafs managed to survive Boston’s big push in the second period, they snapped back with a third insurance goal that sealed any chances the Bruins had of getting back into the game.
HONORABLE MENTION: Frank Vatrano was one of the few bright spots for the Bruins. He scored the team’s only goal in the first period, he threw three hits including a big one on Toronto D-man Nikita Zaitsev against the side boards and he even blocked a couple of shots while playing the 200-foot game for the Black and Gold. Vatrano also drew an interference call on Tyler Bozak in the third period to set up a Bruins power play that they weren’t able to score on. It all started with Vatrano scoring the goal and his confidence growing from there in the first game where he appeared to be truly engaged this season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0-3-3 – the Bruins record against Eastern Conference teams this season after dropping both ends of the home-and-home against Toronto.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Around the net they were better than us. So, we’re frustrated, but not...we’re not discouraged. I mean, we’re playing hard, just you go through these lulls where you need to be a little bit better." –Bruce Cassidy, of a Bruins team that’s lost three in a row for the first time all season and lost six of their last eight games.
TORONTO -- Anders Bjork's up-and-down rookie season has come to an end, as the Bruins' left wing underwent left shoulder surgery this week that’s expected to keep him sidelined for the next six months.
Bjork was knocked out of a Jan. 30 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when Francois Beauchemin caught him with a cross-check to the left arm, but it’s unclear whether he was already playing through some level of shoulder injury prior to that collision. According to the B’s release, the 21-year-old winger “underwent successful left shoulder arthroscopy and labral repair on Tuesday” at Mass General Hospital. Bjork had been spotted around the Garden in recent weeks wearing his left arm in a sling, but it was difficult to guess the severity of the injury based on what looked like a fairly run-of-the-mill hit from Beauchemin.
The injury and season-ending surgery ends a bit of a lost year for Bjork, who cracked the Opening Night roster and finished with 4r goals and 12 points in 30 games.
He showed the speed and skill required to be a top-6 forward at the NHL level, but also appeared to need more development time when it comes to battle level and adjusting to the physicality level in the pro game. The former Notre Dame star never seemed to fully bounce back from getting steamrolled in the neutral zone by Matt Martin in the middle of November, and ended up spending time in Providence as well prior to his season-ending injury.
Bjork’s injury certainly doesn’t rule him out completely as a trade asset ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline, but it probably makes him less attractive to NHL teams looking for young, NHL-ready talent that can step into their lineups right now. With Bjork headed for the long-term injured list and Frank Vatrano traded to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick, that certainly opens the door for both a) a deal to bring on a veteran rental winger ahead of the trade deadline and B) a spot to be opened up in the Bruins organization for Ryan Donato when the Harvard University star, currently at the Olympics, is ready to sign.
Those are both very good things despite the downer news about Bjork, who watched fellow rookies Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen live up to the expectations many had for him.
TORONTO – The Bruins are making more moves well ahead of the Monday trade deadline as they shipped injured winger Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2018 third-round pick.
The trade somewhat eases a crowded roster, essentially gives the B’s a replacement for the third-rounder they sent to the New York Rangers for Nick Holden earlier this week and gives them a solid return on an undrafted college hockey free agent that had fallen a bit this season on the B’s organizational depth chart.
Vatrano had two goals and a minus-3 rating in 25 games with the Bruins this season, but had typically been either a healthy scratch or strictly a bottom-six winger when he had been in the lineup this season. Vatrano, the East Longmeadow, Mass., native who turns 24 next month, had fallen behind Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen on the depth chart as two of the aforementioned three had locked down top-nine roles.
In that respect, it wasn’t much of a surprise to hear Vatrano getting moved as he’d hit a wall in his development with the Bruins after scoring 20 goals in his first 108 career NHL games and lighting up the AHL as a goal-per-game player. Now, Vatrano will get a chance to rekindle that goal-scoring ability with the Panthers and prove that he’s more than the one-dimensional player he appeared to be in three seasons with the B’s.
There was some thinking Vatrano might have served as a trade asset to be utilized in one of the potential deals that the Bruins have cooking for a rental wingers Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash or Thomas Vanek. Instead, general manager Don Sweeney scoops up a solid draft pick asset for a player that was sitting on the bench for the Black and Gold. That's a solid piece of asset management in a trade deadline period that so far is going very well for the GM.