What we learned: Bruins 4, Jets 1
What we learned: Bruins 4, Jets 1
Here’s what we learned from the Bruins 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre that left the B’s taking four of a possible six points on their three-game road swing to start the season.
1. Carlo belongs
Brandon Carlo belongs in the NHL, and is making the Bruins a better defensemen corps in the process. Clearly the 19-year-old isn’t perfect and it’s still not ideal for him to be partnering with Zdeno Chara at this point in his career against the other team’s top lines, but Carlo has been very solid since looking a bit nervous in the first 30 minutes of the season opener against the Blue Jackets. He leads all rookies with a plus-7 rating, has two points in three games and has been able to move the puck smoothly, efficiently and to great effect while playing with a player in Chara that’s very much slowing down. He’s also third on the team with 21:35 of ice time per game thus far, and has given the B’s another blueliner along with Torey Krug and Chara that they can depend on in important situations. Clearly the youngster is going to have to prove all year long that he can do this with consistency, but there’s no way the Bruins can afford to send him down to the AHL as long he keeps playing this way. He’s been a massive upgrade on the back end, and pretty much exactly what the Bruins needed as a 6-foot-5, puck-moving D-man that can also shut plays down at his own end of the ice. We all thought it was Colin Miller that could be the player that would keep the B’s from getting too desperate for veteran D-man help on the trade market, and it might just be Carlo instead that makes the need for somebody like Jacob Trouba a moot point.
2. Fourth line clicks
While they haven’t been bestowed with much glory in the early going, the revamped fourth line for the Black and Gold has been very good early in the season. Both Dominic Moore and Riley Nash brought needed penalty killing and grit in the first couple of games, and then both Tim Schaller and Moore became big factors in Monday night’s win. After the B’s defense fell asleep with Blake Wheeler coming out of the penalty box for Winnipeg’s goal to open the game, Claude Julien opted to put the fourth line out on the next shift to regain the momentum. They did just that by working the puck deep into the Winnipeg zone, and then tied the game up to steal back momentum from the Jets. It was Schaller that shoveled a pass to the front of the net, and Moore did the rest snapping a puck past Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck before the Jets even knew what happened. The Bruins fourth line doesn’t have the traditional fighter on their line and isn’t really in the traditional crash-and-bang mold, but Claude Julien is already trusting them to play the important energy role just a couple of games into the season. Also, give Moore credit for helping the Bruins get on the right side of the face-off ledger against Winnipeg after getting destroyed on the draw in Toronto.
3. Pastrnak breaking out
David Pastrnak continues to show all the signs of a breakout player with four goals in three games. Granted it’s still a bit of a top heavy offense for the Bruins with Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup, but that shouldn’t take any of the shine off the 20-year-old bursting out of the starting gate this season. He’s a little bigger and stronger this season while up closer to 190-pounds, and it shows when Pastrnak gets involved in the battle areas against much bigger players like Dustin Byfuglien. That allows him to be more of a factor in all zones, and gives him the ice time needed for game-breaking moments like the play at the end of the second period when he speed past the Winnipeg defense, confidently pulled the puck out and then fired a pass/shot at the Jets net that ended up in the back of the net after a ricochet off Winnipeg D-man Toby Enstrom. At 20 years old, Pastrnak leads the team in goals scored through three games, looks poised to step up and completely fill the offensive void left by the departure of Loui Eriksson and will be a revelation for the Black and Gold once he ends up on the right wing with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Everybody should be bullish on Pastrnak having a huge season after watching him through the first week of the season.
Plus: Tuukka Rask
A season-high 34 saves for Tuukka Rask in making him 2-for-2 on the season in the win category, and encouraging news that he was able to make the start at all after tweaking something in the victory opening night. Rask was at his best early in the game when the Jets were really pouring it on, and taking advantage of Boston’s lack of discipline. Rask’s 1-2 combo save on Mathieu Perreault and Adam Lowry was a game-saver at the end of the first period, and part of 14 overall saves in the first period when Boston needed him most. He also was the game’s only multi-point scorer with a pair of assists in the win, which is something that you don’t see every day.
Plus: Brandon Carlo
Brandon Carlo scored his first NHL goal in the third period to ice the game, and played an impressive 24:51 of ice time largely against Winnipeg’s best offensive players. He finished the game with a plus-3 rating and continues to have few difficulties forming a top pairing with Zdeno Chara in a spot that the Bruins spent all of last season looking for a proper candidate. Carlo leads all rookies with a plus-7 rating on the season.
Plus: David Pastrnak
David Pastrnak notched the game-winner and again served as a game-breaking force for the Bruins who leads all B’s players with 15 shots on net in three games. That also puts him fourth overall in the NHL as he’s really exploding on the scene as an offensive force with four goals in three games as well. The speed, shot and offensive instincts have always been there, but it now seems that Pastrnak has the physical development and hockey IQ to go right along with it.
Minus: Colin Miller
Colin Miller has been on ice for the first goal against for the Bruins in all three games thus far this season, and the Bruins allowed the first goal in all three road games on the trip. Miller needs to be better early in the game than he was on that road trip, even if Blake Wheeler getting the jump on him, and John-Michael Liles, out of the penalty box is something that happens from time-to-time.
Minus: David Krejci
One shot on net and two giveaways in 13:59 of ice time for David Krejci, and just one assist in three games for the playmaking center. It’s been tough on Krejci as he’s been playing with younger guys playing a bit out of position with Ryan Spooner and Danton Heinen on either side of him, but he needs to be better than he’s been in the first three games of the season.
Minus: Kyle Connor
Kyle Connor was one of the players selected immediately after Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 draft, and one of the players some have wondered if the Bruins should have taken instead of him. Well, obviously Connor has made it to the NHL in quicker fashion, and that’s a big check mark on his side right now. But Connor was a minus-2 with just one shot on net in the Winnipeg less, and was a complete non-factor against the Bruins. So I’d say the jury is still very much out at this point.