What we learned in Bruins' 4-3 loss to Blue Jackets
What we learned in Bruins' 4-3 loss to Blue Jackets
Here’s what we learned from the Bruins 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena after another frustrating loss where the Bruins weren’t ready to play at the drop of the puck.
KREJCI, BACKES MESHING
David Krejci and David Backes are showing more signs of life as a tandem together. It hasn’t been perfect for the two together with Backes getting used to a new group in Boston, and Krejci making a slow, gradual return to frontline form after his hip surgery last summer. Both scored goals in Tuesday night’s loss during the comeback from being three goals down, and they combined with Ryan Spooner for 16 of the 40 shots on net for the Bruins. There was good puck possession from that line, and both players were grinding away close to the net and paying the price for blue collar goals. Krejci scored on a rebound strike and Backes had a nice shot driving to the net and firing glove side high from the high slot. All they need is another proven finisher on the left side to go with them, and they could be a complete line capable of doing some damage on their good nights. They just need to start having more good nights than bad nights, and perhaps they need Frank Vatrano riding shotgun on their left side as he was for a heavy fore-check leading directly to the Backes goal on Tuesday night.
SOMEONE SHOULD SAY SOMETHING
Where are Don Sweeney and Cam Neely? The Bruins have lost eight of 11 games, they’re in danger of falling out of the playoffs and there has been nary a peep from the Bruins President and the Bruins general manager in months. Neely is no longer doing his weekly phoners with the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 the Sports Hub, and Sweeney has rarely done that thing in the two years he’s held the GM gig with the Bruins. They’re both scheduled to talk in January at the State of the Bruins event for season ticket holders being held midseason this year because of the World Cup of Hockey, and so at least fans will get some answers. But it’s usually time for upper management to speak in times of trouble, and the Bruins have been flirting with big trouble for weeks now. The B’s are entering the danger zone with some bad, bad losses in recent weeks while hanging onto a playoff spot, and the Lightning, Panthers and Maple Leafs are close on their heels with games in hand. This is the time for Neely and Sweeney to make a big move, or at least be a little more visible to address the B’s worsening situation in the Eastern Conference. Their silence makes you wonder if a move is coming that they’re not yet prepared to discuss, or if they’ve just decided to adopt a “silence is golden” philosophy this season while the Patriots, Celtics and Red Sox coaches and front office regularly do radio and TV spots to discuss their team’s performance.
RASK SOFTENING UP
We’re starting to see some soft goals from Tuukka Rask, and perhaps the burden of carrying the Bruins is getting to him. The final game-winner in the third period was certainly a soft PK play around the net with both Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid allowing Nick Foligno to waltz right to the Boston net. He was able to squeeze a puck past the near post after quickly turning and firing on the Boston net, and that’s where Rask comes into play. It’s the second time in recent weeks where Rask wasn’t able to shut off the near post as he’s supposed to when the puck is around the net, and consequently a damaging goal snuck past him. Nobody is going to blame him for any of the first three Columbus goals when the Bruins basically forgot to play defense in front of the net, but the save percentage and goals against average numbers are starting to fall back a little bit for the Bruins goaltender. Four goals allowed on 22 shots just isn’t good enough and that softie in the third period falls under the same category. Rask has now allowed three or more goals six times this month after doing it just five times in the first two months of the season combined. Some of that is the defense breaking down a bit more in front of him, and some of that is a goalie that’s cooling off a little bit.
PLUS: DAVID KREJCI
David Krejci had a goal, two points, a plus-1 rating a game-high eight shots on net while routinely paying the price in front of the net and playing about as dominantly as he has all season. The Bruins simply need more of this from No. 46 on a consistent basis.
PLUS: DAVID BACKES
David Backes finished with a goal, two points and a plus-1 rating along with six shot attempts and a couple of heavy hits, and finally finished off a pretty goal when he snapped a wrist shot glove side high on Sergei Bobrovsky to spark Boston’s ill-fated comeback.
PLUS: SERGEI BOBROVSKY
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 37 shots including 17 shots in the second period as the Bruins poured it on and tried to overtake the Blue Jackets. He made great stops on a Krejci redirect in front and a Colin Miller point shot, and held strong while not breaking down before Columbus could come through in the third period. It marked Bobrovsky’s first win against the Bruins.
MINUS: ADAM MCQUAID
Adam McQuaid played way too softly in front of the net on a couple of Columbus goals, and wasn’t allowed by the linesmen to drop the gloves with Josh Anderson when both players wanted to go in the first period. The Matt Calvert goal and the Nick Foligno game-winner were both big breakdowns in front of the net and McQuaid was in the middle of it.
MINUS: TUUKKA RASK
Tuukka Rask needs to shut off the post in the third period of a tied hockey game, and he couldn’t do it against Nick Foligno. He got zero support early in this game, but four goals on 22 shots when your team puts up 40 shots isn’t good enough. The Bruins should win when they score three goals in a game.
MINUS: BRUINS' TOP LINE
Three combined shots on net for Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, who were pretty much invisible throughout the whole game. If that line had been going like the Krejci line was on Tuesday night then perhaps the Bruins pull out that game.