What we learned in Bruins' 4-3 loss to Hurricanes
What we learned in Bruins' 4-3 loss to Hurricanes
Don Sweeney was critical of his Bruins team leaving points on the table in certain instances, and they did it again on Sunday by replacing Colin Miller with a rusty John-Michael Liles in their game day lineup. Miller has been playing very good hockey for the last 4-6 weeks and is one of the few really mobile defenseman in their lineup, but Claude Julien opted to scratch him in favor of inserting Liles back into the lineup for the first time since Nov. 27. Liles missed 20 games with a concussion, and the B’s certainly need to find a time to get him back into the lineup now that he’s ready. But why not remove one of Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller against a Carolina team that doesn’t play physical hockey? Removing Miller means Julien was pretty much forced to go with Liles in overtime, and he made a weak hope pass from behind the Boston net that was easily picked off and turned into the Sebastian Aho overtime game-winner. It’s not Liles fault as he was expected to have some rust, but was it really anything close to optimal having him out there for the 3-on-3 OT with a point on the line after not playing in six weeks? It’s little choices like that which potentially cost the Bruins that they are going to desperately needed when it comes down to it at the end of the regular season. So we learned another way the B’s are leaving points on the table on Sunday.
Marchand carrying offense
Brad Marchand continues to help carry the Bruins offense. After a strong game against Florida, Marchand again scored a clutch game-tying goal in the third period after connecting with Patrice Bergeron on a strong shift for the pair. Marchand has three goals and five points in his last five games, and has 13 shots on net in five games while whipping up his offense to the levels they couldn’t get reach over the last few months despite decent productivity. It’s an encouraging sign that Bergeron and Marchand are finding their chemistry, the power play is showing signs of life and David Backes appears to be hitting the ground running after a return from a concussion, but it’s not coming along with the win/loss results that the Bruins plainly need at this point. That being said the B’s need Marchand’s hot streak to continue as they look for ways to climb out of the muck they’ve been stuck in over the last month.
McIntyre a real backup
Zane McIntyre looks like he could be the guy-behind-the-guy. McIntyre gave up four goals on 30 shots, and on paper that sounds like kind of a “meh” performance from the rookie netminder given his big numbers in the AHL. But let’s face it: The Bruins had some horrid stretches in that Carolina game. If not for McIntyre stoning Jordan Staal on back-to-back breakaways during Boston’s only power play in the second period, the B’s don’t even get to overtime to collect the loser point they earned. Instead they could have been 4-1 entering the third period, and looking at a much more difficult climb simply getting to the extra session. Those weren’t the only high quality saves for McIntyre either as he stuffed Aho on a chance all alone in front in the first period, and needed to make a total of 21 saves in the first two periods before the Bruins managed to slow down the Hurricanes in the final 20 minutes. So McIntyre is 0-2-1 in his three starts for the Bruins and didn’t get the win on Sunday, but I think he showed more than enough to get another look with hopefully a better performance from the team in front of him the next time around.
Plus: Sebastian Aho
Sebastian Aho finished with a pair of goals including the overtime game-winner, had five shots on net and a plus-2 rating in 16:10 of ice time. He’s been impressive this season for the Canes in their games against the Bruins.
Plus: Tim Schaller
Tim Schaller scored his sixth goal of the season to open things up for the Bruins in the first period on a nice shift by the fourth line, finished with a team-high six shots on net and had nine shot attempts altogether. The three hits also showed Schaller mixing it up physically in a clear effort by the Bruins to push Carolina around a little bit.
Plus: Zane McIntyre
Zane McIntyre made two stellar saves on Jordan Staal during back-to-back shorthanded breakaways in the second period to keep the reeling Bruins in the game, and without the rookie netminder they don’t even get into overtime. McIntyre made 21 saves in the first two periods to keep the Bruins in the game, and then fell one save short in overtime on a soft John-Michael Liles play in his own zone.
As referenced above, it was a mistake to replace Colin Miller with John-Michael Liles instead of potentially removing Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller against a Hurricanes team that doesn’t play with much physical oomph. Then Liles might have been in the position he was in for the 3-on-3 OT where a soft play behind the net turned into the Carolina game-winner, and cost the Bruins a point.
Minus: David Krejci
David Krejci was a flat-out passenger in this one. He looked disinterested on a couple of occasions, and made no attempt to come to the puck in overtime once it was clear Liles made a soft pass off the boards to him. A minus-1 in 18:03 of ice time and lost 8-of-14 draws in a performance that looked like he didn’t have his legs.
Minus: Jeff Skinner
One shot on net and a minus-2 rating in 15:32 of ice time for Jeff Skinner, who didn’t do much of anything in an important game for Carolina. They got the two points, obviously, but it wasn’t because of anything Skinner did.