Talking Points: Early mistakes prove costly for Bruins

Talking Points: Early mistakes prove costly for Bruins

GOLD STAR: Craig Smith and his linemates Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala were unstoppable in the early portion of the game as they jumped on Bruins mistakes, and scored early and often to build a four-goal lead the B’s couldn’t quite overcome. Smith scored on a rebound goal to open the offense for both sides, and then once again attacked with speed while taking advantage of mistakes in the defensive zone for his second goal of the night. Smith finished with two goals, three points and a plus-2 rating in 14:51 of ice time with seven shot attempts, and did just enough in the early going to push the Predators to the eventual victory.

BLACK EYE: The numbers didn’t look horrible for Torey Krug when the game was finally over, but he made enough mistakes in the first period to last for an entire game. Krug lost track of Smith as he was crashing to the net on the first goal of the game, and he left his position to triple team the guy with the puck leaving Smith wide open for Nashville’s second goal. He had a turnover that led to a breakaway chance for Kyle Turris in the first period as well, but Anton Khudobin was able to bail him on that one. Krug stabilized his game after that and finished at just a minus-1 in 20:53 of ice time with seven shot attempts for the Bruins, but there were too many mistakes for Krug and the Bruins in the first period.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins closed it to a one-goal game in the third period, and it appeared they were going to overtake the Predators with momentum on their side. But the Predators followed with another counter-punch goal after taking a timeout, and Fillip Forsberg was able to get behind Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy for a breakaway score that iced the game for the Predators. The Bruins didn’t score another goal after that and their momentum was effectively stymied by the one big, final goal on another self-inflicted wound.

HONORABLE MENTION: Pekka Rinne gave up three goals to the Bruins, but he also made 37 saves and made the big stops when he needed to in order to secure the win for Boston. Rinne made a huge stop on the first shift of the game when David Pastrnak went through his own legs in the crease for a scoring attempt, and allowed the Predators some time to find their legs before they scored the first four goals of the game. The Bruins made their push in the second and third periods, but Rinne continued to stay calm between the pipes and made 14 saves in the final period while never relinquishing the lead for the Predators.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – The number of games that Anton Khudobin had won in a row prior to dropping Monday night’s game in Nashville, and the number of goals given up by the Bruins netminder before he was pulled from the game.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Digging yourself a 4-0 deficit is certainly not a good recipe for winning games. The second half of the game was much better, but it was too little, too late. We need to start on time. It took us halfway through to finally get into [the game they wanted].” – David Backes, on falling way behind a red-hot Nashville team in a deficit they couldn’t overcome.  


A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence


A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

BRIGHTON, Mass – It sounds like the toughness quotient might be going up quite a bit higher for the Bruins in the near future.

Adam McQuaid may be cleared to play as soon as Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, or at least later on in the week if it doesn’t happen against the rough-and-tumble, Metro Division Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-5 hard-nosed defender has been out for nearly two months with a broken right fibula, but has been back skating with the Bruins for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t know if Monday he’ll be cleared, but he’s getting close. He’s practicing with us, so it’s imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact day,” said Cassidy of McQuaid, who was one of a handful of players along with Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Frank Vatrano, Paul Postma and Anton Khudobin that skated on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.

There certainly may be some rust in McQuaid’s game after missing the last 24 cgames dating back to the Oct. 19 injury. Ddding another tough customer and D-zone warrior certainly won't hurt the Bruins. In the short term, the presence of McQuaid could protect some of B's top players like Brad Marchand who has received some questionable hits over the last couple of months. In the long term his presence adds more size, strength and toughness in the defensive zone.

In terms of pairings it would be logical to swing Kevan Miller back over to the left side, and potentially pull rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup once McQuaid is ready to play. But Bruce Cassidy indicated it won’t be that simple, and there may be times when the Bruins roll seven defensemen given their strength in numbers once McQuaid comes back.

“If you take the last guy in, Grzelcyk, [out of the lineup] then you’re back to your four righty [defensemen]. We had mixed levels of success with that, and then it’s a matter of who on the right Is going to come out if he stick with the three lefties,” said Cassidy. “That’s an internal discussion that we’ve already started to have. He will definitely help the penalty kill. It could be a different lineup every night where we go with six D one night, and then go with seven D the next night. It will create good competition.”

McQuaid wants to temper the excitement now that he’s on the verge of a return, and is simply putting in work until he’s given the green light to play. The busy NHL schedule and the lack of quality practice time isn't the perfect scenario for the 31-year-old defenseman to return, so it’s simply a matter of doing what’s best for player and team.

“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously. I’ve missed a lot of time, but it’s a process. I just try to approach it like I’m not getting my hopes up too much,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 in the six games he did appear in. “We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. The more and more game-like situations you get in [can help].

“We haven’t gone too far down the road so I don’t know exactly [when I’ll return]. I’m just out there trying to get closer, but I’m excited about where I’m at and the possibility of moving forward. It’s been fun watching the guys, but I can’t wait to get back in there and be part of a winning hockey team again.”


Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now


Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while I still remain pretty conflicted about my thoughts on the Last Jedi. See yesterday’s morning skate for the full review.

*Happy Holidays from the Boston Bruins, who all wore spiffy Christmas-inspired suits into TD Garden for Saturday night’s game against the Rangers. The clear winners are Christmas Elf Brad Marchand and bedazzled Patrice Bergeron, but everybody is a winner when they’re in the holiday spirit.

*Here’s a blueprint for all 31 NHL teams to get an outdoor game next season if you’re really looking to run the concept into the ground.

*Everybody loves a goalie fight, and the Providence Bruins had one last night even if it was more like slightly angry hugging than actual fighting.

*This quick snippet from an Ottawa Senators radio broadcast this weekend is one of the oddest things I’ve heard in a while. No idea what took them down that path.

*Speaking of the Senators, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he has no idea why the Sens are having such big attendance problems at their arena. I can think of one reason: location, location and location.

*Larry Brooks goes over the Sean Avery memoir just in time for Christmas for all those looking for a stocking stuffer, or just looking for the perfect gift for that hockey rat in your life.

*Hacksaw Jim Duggan dropping the puck for a minor league hockey game is definitely something to brag about. Ho!

*For something completely different: 20 years later, the crazy story of how the blockbuster Titanic ultimately got made.