What we learned in B's 7-4 loss to Oilers
What we learned in Bruins' 7-4 loss to Oilers: Letdown on D
Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 7-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Thursday night to cap off their trip through Western Canada:
1) The Bruins have got some things to sort out defensively
The Bruins obviously had the bottom fall out of them in the D-zone in giving up three goals in the first 10 minutes of the game, giving up a fourth goal in the final minute of the first period and giving up seven goals total to a talented, explosive Oil group. The coverage in front of the Edmonton net was a mess, and there were far too many open, free-and-easy attackers in the slot area whenever they wanted to get there. Certainly some of it was about a tough matchup against a big, rugged group of Oilers players up front, but there have been warning signs with lax coverage all around the D-zone throughout the trip. In all, the Bruins allowed 12 goals in three games in Western Canada and exerted a lot of energy overcoming mistakes against Vancouver and Calgary before finally succumbing to fatigue against Edmonton in their third game in four nights. The Bruins don’t want to overreact at the expense of their high-powered offense, but there’s definitely been some defensive slippage to their game.
2) Maroon a B's killer
Maybe the Bruins should make a pitch to bring Patrick Maroon to Boston because it sure seems like he enjoys playing against the Black and Gold. After collecting a hat trick in Edmonton’s game in Boston earlier this season, Maroon potted the Oilers first two goals in their impressive seven-goal uprising. Beyond the impressive teaming up with Connor McDavid for offense, Maroon also flexed his muscles with five hits, including crushing both David Pastrnak and Brandon Carlo in the first period. He caught the attention of both Kevan Miller and Zdeno Chara before finally dropping the gloves with Adam McQuaid. He actually calmed down after throwing fists with No. 54. Maroon is exactly the kind of physical, productive player that the Bruins used to specialize in and now could use a little more of with David Krejci at some point in the future. Either way, Maroon has accounted for more than 20 percent of his own goal-scoring production against the Bruins this season and that gains him status as a certified Bruins killer.
3) No harm done
As much as Bruins fans might want to hang their heads about a defensive dud in Edmonton, it’s a loss that didn’t inflict a lot of damage to the Bruins after getting wins in the first two games in Western Canada. The Bruins maintain a four-point lead over the Maple Leafs, with a giant showdown against them on Monday night, and hold a five-point cushion over the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders for a playoff spot. With only 11 games remaining in the regular season, the Bruins are in the driver’s seat and it’s hard to imagine that the slumping Maple Leafs, the flailing Islanders and the inconsistent Lightning are all going to catch fire at once and boot the B’s out of the playoff picture. Sure, it’s happened before and to the Black and Gold in the past couple of seasons, but they’ve pushed themselves into a very good position with about a month to go in the regular season. With big games against both the Leafs and Lightning next week, they could come very close to punching their playoff ticket with a pair of statement regulation wins. So, it’s perhaps no wonder if they were looking past the Oilers a little bit on Thursday night.
*Patrick Maroon was a wrecking ball. He took out the Bruins in every way with his brawn and brute force around the net in scoring the first two goals and blowing up David Pastrnak and Brandon Carlo among his five registered hits. Maroon scored five goals against Boston this season and was the engine behind both of the Oil’s wins.
*In defeat, Brad Marchand still racked up three points to keep pace with Connor McDavid for an NHL-best 79 points, and scored a goal to extend his NHL lead by matching last season's career-high with 37 goals. Seven shot attempts in 22:25 of ice time and a plus-1 rating in a game where the B’s gave up seven goals is pretty good.
*Three assists for Connor McDavid also allowed the Oilers stud player to push his season point total to 79. He was the driving force behind much of the early offense while taking the puck with strength to the Boston net. McDavid is the real deal and Thursday night was another shining example of that.
*One shot on net and a minus-3 for Frank Vatrano, who blew coverage in front of the Bruins net on the damaging fourth Edmonton goal in the first period. Certainly Vatrano is going to make defensive mistakes from time to time, but no goals in his past nine games, and not many shots in the past handful, is not good enough.
*No shots and a minus-2 for Drew Stafford, who was cooled off a bit after looking impressive in the first couple of games following the trade. For a big, strong player, he didn’t show much of either of those traits against the bigger, heavier Oilers.
*Tuukka Rask didn’t get a lot of help in front of him, but five goals allowed on 17 shots against the Oilers wasn’t good enough before getting pulled from the game. He’ll need to be much, much better against the Leafs on Monday.