Vancouver Canucks

Takeaways from the Bruins' 6-1 blowout loss to the Canucks

Takeaways from the Bruins' 6-1 blowout loss to the Canucks

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins Saturday night 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Centre. 

1)  The young players for the Bruins are responding very differently while knowing they’re front and center in trade rumors going on this month. It’s a funny time of year when the rumors and the whispers kick up to high gear in the final weeks ahead of the NHL trade deadline, and it’s no different this season with the Bruins heavily involved with the deadline little more than a week away. Brandon Carlo has been mentioned early and often as a young D-man that’s drawn interest around the league, and it’s no surprise given that the 6-foot-5 defenseman has been a constant top-4 guy during his two seasons. He’s accomplished plenty at 21 years old and holds plenty of value around the league even if he’s never going to be a puck-moving demon like fellow youngster Charlie McAvoy. All that being said, Carlo responded to hearing and seeing his name kicked around by having one of his worst games of the season. Loui Eriksson basically backed him into the front of the Boston net on Vancouver’s first goal against the Bruins, and Carlo was an adventure with both defensive zone coverage and gap control all night. He finished a minus-4 in the blowout loss, and he was every bit that bad. Conversely, Jake DeBrusk has seen his name come up recently in the Ryan McDonagh rumors, and it’s clear other teams would hold him in high esteem given his solid NHL debut as a 21-year-old rookie this season. DeBrusk responded to the rumors by enjoying one of his best games of the season even if he didn’t end up on the score sheet. DeBrusk finished with four shots on net, hit a post in the first period on a nasty shot from the high slot and was turning pucks over while playing active, engaged hockey all night. DeBrusk was Boston’s best player, and that’s impressive given the circumstances. But then again, DeBrusk has shown early in his career that he responds in a very good way when he’s challenged by the circumstances around him. That kind of character is one of the reasons I wouldn’t want to give him up in a trade if I were Don Sweeney. Either way, it’s interesting to see how both of these young players are responding under the microscope. 

2)  Leave it to Loui Eriksson to pick his spot against the Bruins. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the years covering Eriksson, it’s that the Swedish winger can be a very good NHL player when he really wants to be. Like when he’s playing for a big contract in his final year with Boston, and posted 30 goals and 63 points while playing grittier and tougher than he ever had in his previous two seasons with the Bruins. After signing a huge six year deal with the Canucks, he responded with 11 goals and 24 points last season and is once again just “meh” this season as a minus player that’s pacing for much less than 30 goals and 60 points. But he rose to the occasion against his old Bruins team and scored a pair of goals while attacking the Boston net, and generally playing with an urgent approach that I’m pretty sure Vancouver hasn’t seen much of over the last two seasons. One of the best things that Don Sweeney did was take a pass on the passive, play-when-the-mood-strikes Eriksson, and instead replace him with a bigger, tougher and more consistent – if not quite as offensively gifted – winger in David Backes. Good luck with four more years of Eriksson, Vancouver. Yikes. 

3)  Once again Thomas Vanek gave Bruins fans a reminder that he is a certified Bruins killer and that perhaps they could use a player like Vanek at the trade deadline. Vanek didn’t even have a shot on net during the game, but it was his play attacking the Boston net that freed up Daniel Sedin for a wide open goal during the four-goal, first period onslaught against the Bruins. The 34-year-old Vanek has 16 goals and 40 points this season along with a minus-13 rating, and definitely stands as one of those second tier wingers that could be available to Boston if they strike out on Rick Nash as the top rental winger that’s going to be available at the deadline. It’s interesting that both Vanek and Patrick Maroon, who are both on Boston’s trade radar, will be available to the Black and Gold if they want them after tormenting the Bruins pretty much every time they play against them. The current tally: 33 goals and 68 career points in 63 games, and a plus-21 mark against the Black and Gold. That is some serious damage against the Bruins over the years, so maybe it bodes well for what he could do if the notoriously streaky forward donned the Black and Gold.  

PLUS

*Loui Eriksson – Credit where it’s due to the Swedish winger that stepped up and probably had his best game of the season against the Bruins scoring a couple of goals and doing some of the things that allowed to put up a massive final season in Boston. The two goals and constant pressure around the net were a big factor in the win for Vancouver. 

*Jake DeBrusk – The Bruins rookie winger didn’t end up scoring any goals, but he was all around the net with four shots and one post on a Grade-A chance from the high slot. It was an impressive performance in an otherwise gross effort from the Bruins, and it also came in front of his dad, Louie DeBrusk, who was working the color analyst gig between the benches for Hockey Night in Canada’s crew covering the Canucks/Bruins game. 

*Anders Nilsson made 44 saves, so credit where it’s due in the victory over the Bruins. But the backup goalie was shaky throughout while not making any clean glove saves, so the best thing the Bruins ever did for him was fall way behind early in the first period. That took the pressure off Nilsson, and he was able to keep it simple with a big cushion and ride that to victory. 

 

MINUS

*The minus-4 for Brandon Carlo was literally and figuratively the biggest minus for the Bruins in defeat. Carlo wasn’t nearly tough enough in front of the net early in the game, had some coverage issues in the defensive zone and really was a liability with Torey Krug as a pairing. Credit Carlo for stepping up and dropping the gloves with Darren Archibald after a big hit on David Pastrnak, and in doing so displaying a little toughness midway through the game. But it was too little, too late at that point.

*One shot on net and a minus-1 rating in 20:03 of ice time for Brad Marchand, who was clobbered early with a high stick that went uncalled and remained pretty silent in the game after that despite logging over 20 minutes of ice time. Marchand has had some pretty eventful games in Vancouver during his NHL career. This was not one of them. 

*The defense was dreadful in front of Tuukka Rask, but he also gave up four goals on nine shots before getting pulled after the first period. His rebound control was poor while he was in there in the first period and the Bruins only gave up a couple more goals the rest of the way, so it certainly feels like it was a combination of a bad night for the B’s and their goalie when they’ve both been so brilliant this season.

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Loui Eriksson elevates game against Bruins

Loui Eriksson elevates game against Bruins

GOLD STAR: Loui Eriksson has been a massive disappointment for the Vancouver Canucks, but he found a way to get some measure of payback against a Boston team that walked away from him in free agency a couple of years ago. Eriksson scored the game’s first goal two minutes into the proceedings when he overpowered Brandon Carlo in front of the Boston net, and then he added insult to injury with a shorthanded goal late in the third period to really put a capper on the blowout. Eriksson finished with the two goals and a plus-2 rating in his 17:18 of ice time, and also found a way to collect four shots on net and three takeaways with his always active stick. Those were the ninth and tenth goals scored during the regular season with Eriksson, who has really been a big Swedish bust in Vancouver to this point.

BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo finished with a minus-4 rating. Oof. The young Bruins shutdown D-man was clearly struggling early when he was losing battles in front of the net highlighted by Loui Eriksson’s first goal, and he had major issues getting good gap control in a stretch where the Bruins are struggling defensively. It’s really a bit of bad timing for Carlo as his play is dipping right now as he’s been mentioned as a key prospect leading up to the NHL trade deadline. On the good side, Carlo dropped the gloves with Darren Archibald after he threw a questionable hit on David Pastrnak, and continues to slowly-but-surely grow into more of a physical, defensive stopper while learning at the feet of Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually outshot the Canucks by an 18-9 margin in the first period, and had some very good offensive chances turned away when Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak both hit the post in key spots. They had Anders Nilsson and the Canucks on the run based on controlling puck possession and getting some decent offensive chances against a goalie in Nilsson that isn’t a household name. But none of it mattered when Loui Eriksson scored just a few minutes into the first period and started a total defensive collapse that saw the Bruins surrender four goals in their worst period of the year. Through it all the Bruins continue to play hard even when a one-sided result on the scoreboard has pretty much dictated their fate.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jake DeBrusk was really good for the Bruins with his dad, Louie, working between the benches in Vancouver on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of the Bruins/Canucks game. DeBrusk had a shot that snapped off the post at the beginning of one of his early shifts, and then DeBrusk clobbered a few more chances at the front of the net as well among his four shots on net in 17:18 of ice time. Perhaps just as impressive DeBrusk turned over three pucks in his night’s work as he was a constant source of energy and attack for the Bruins. If DeBrusk had heard his name in trade rumors over the last couple of days, it certainly didn’t seem like that was really bothering him as he was one of Boston’s best players during the game.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 – Tim Schaller scored a bit of a garbage time goal in the third period for the Bruins to bust up the shutout, and perhaps just as important Schaller is now a double-digit goal-scorer for the first time in his NHL career. His impressive development curve continues for the Black and Gold.       

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We lost the slot battle in the first period. Not hard enough in that area. I thought we had our legs, but the commitment to defending the front of our net has come and gone lately, and it’s added up to goals scored against us.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN on the common thread in Saturday night’s loss to the Canucks that turned out to be a massive blowout.   

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Eriksson, Nilsson lead Canucks past Bruins, 6-1

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Eriksson, Nilsson lead Canucks past Bruins, 6-1

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Anders Nilsson finally had his hard work rewarded with a victory.

Loui Eriksson scored his second goal of the night late in the third period and Nilsson stopped 44 shots to pick up his first win in 2 1/2 months as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 6-1 Saturday night.

Nilsson was 0-7-0 in his last 11 appearances, including nine starts, since beating Nashville on Nov. 30.

"I feel like I'm getting back to my game a little bit," the 27-year-old Swede said. "Even though the results haven't been going my way, or the team's way, I'm feeling like my game has slowly been getting back to the way it should be and the way when I play my best.

"It feels great to be able to contribute to two points."

Nilsson started the season strong with four wins in his first five starts, including shutouts over Ottawa and Minnesota. Since December, however, he has struggled. His win against the Bruins improved his record to 7-10-1.

Jacob Markstrom was scheduled to start against the Bruins after Nilsson played in a 4-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday night. Nilsson learned after the morning skate that Markstrom was sick and he'd be starting instead.

"It was plenty of time to get prepared," he said. "I still had the whole day. I just prepared the way I normally do."

Daniel Sedin, Sven Baertschi, Nic Dowd and Bo Horvat also scored for Vancouver, which scored four goals in the first to take control. It gave the Canucks just their second win in eight games.

Vancouver was outshot 45-23 but got some timely saves from Nilsson.

Tim Schaller scored in the third period for the Bruins, who lost in regulation for just the third time in 27 games. Tuukka Rask started and gave up four goals on eight shots in the first period. Anton Khudobin came on to start the second and finished with 13 saves.

"I look at the goals and they got there," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They wanted to get there, and we didn't prevent them from getting there.

"We got sloppy at times and we paid the price."

Nilsson made a couple of big saves early, including getting a pad on Danton Heinen's shot off a rebound during a first-period Boston power play. In the third, he robbed Schaller and Sean Kuraly on back-to-back plays.

Nilsson also got a little lucky as the Bruins hit three posts in the first 20 minutes.

"We played a pretty good game, but we have to be honest, we got some bounces," Nilsson said. "It was nice to see us get an early lead and maybe control the game.

The Canucks were outshot 18-9 in the first period but led 4-0.

Eriksson opened the scoring two minutes into the game. Rask gave up a big rebound off Alex Edler's shot, and Sedin took a swipe at the puck before it rolled to Eriksson, who whacked it into the net.

The Canucks went ahead 2-0 at 10:54 on a pretty play from Thomas Vanek. He skated down the middle the ice then feathered a pass through the legs of Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo to Sedin, who was alone at the side of the net.

Horvat made it 3-0 just 56 seconds later as he took a pass from Troy Stecher, skated around defenseman Charlie McAvoy, and put a shot over Rask's glove. Nilsson earned an assist on the goal.

The Canucks made it 4-0 on a strange play. Rask stopped a shot from Baertschi and Boston's Noel Acciari tried to clear the rebound, but the puck hit Kuraly's stick and went into the net.

"We hung our goalies out to dry," the Bruins' David Backes said. "Then you are climbing uphill the rest of the games."

Dowd scored the only goal of the second period to make it 5-0. Jake Virtanen cut across the front of the net and took a shot that Khudobin stopped but Dowd put in the rebound for his second at 2:44.

NOTES: Canucks D Ben Hutton was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game and the ninth time in the last 25. ... Baertschi returned to the Canucks' lineup after sitting out Vancouver's 4-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday. ... Louie DeBrusk, the father of Boston rookie forward Jake DeBrusk, worked between the benches as a color analyst for the first time in a game his son played.

UP NEXT

Bruins: At Calgary on Monday afternoon in the second game of a five-game trip.

Canucks: Host Colorado on Tuesday night.

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