PITTSBURGH – The Bruins are scraping and scrapping for everything they’re getting right now and almost pulled out points in Pittsburgh despite being down by two goals in the third period.
Alas, the undermanned B’s ended up falling to the Penguins 5-3 on a lost David Krejci face-off in the defensive zone that turned into a Ryan Geuntzel tip past Jaroslav Halak for the game-winner. Halak wasn’t great in the loss and opted not to speak to the media following his third defeat in his past four games while Tuukka Rask is claiming more of the playing time back from him.
Charlie McAvoy probably had his worst game since returning from the concussion and was part of a defensive breakdown in the first that led to a goal as well as giving up a back-breaking shorthanded goal at the end of the second period.
The Bruins best line all night was their fourth, which accounted for two goals and was led by Chris Wagner’s eye-popping nine shots on net. Heck, even Brandon Carlo scored a goal and that hasn’t happened at all in the past two seasons.t
So, there were some good things to like, and pick apart, in the B’s loss to the Penguins.
“It sucks right now, but I think there was definitely some good we can take from this game being down 3-1 and making it 3-3,” said McAvoy, who finished a minus-1 in 23-plus minutes of uneven performance. “It’s something in here we can be happy about even if we didn’t get the win or at least a point. But we battled and we never say die. That’s a great trait to have as a team.”
Unfortunately, it’s also again becoming clear that, even with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara back healthy at some point, the Bruins need another dynamic offensive player. It doesn’t appear that any of their young guys are going to be up to that task for the Black and Gold and the Bruins clearly know it, given the Charlie Coyle rumors.
But they shouldn’t settle for the BAMP (Best Available Massachusetts Player) in Coyle when Vladimir Tarasenko and Artemi Panarin are out there. As soon as the struggling St. Louis Blues indicate that everything is on the table from a trade perspective and “Vladdy is available” that should be like a Bat Signal for the Bruins to do everything they can to get Tarasenko.
He’s at the prime of his career at 27, has topped 30 goals each of the past four seasons while surpassing 70 points in three of the past four years with the Blues. His numbers are down this season, of course, and it feels like the marriage between the Blues and their Russian sniper might be coming to an end.
Can you imagine a top-six of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak and DeBrusk-Krejci-Tarasenko come playoff time? That’s the kind of forward setup that might just allow the B's to even compete with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who look like they're going to repeat last season’s short playoff series unless the Bruins do something significant.
Of course, Jake DeBrusk might be one of the key pieces involved in getting Tarasenko to the Bruins. One would imagine it would take DeBrusk and perhaps Torey Krug along with the appropriate treasure trove of draft picks and prospects. Who knows? Maybe the Blues are really looking to strike it rich and would want both DeBrusk and McAvoy in exchange for their biggest superstar, who is under contract for another four years after this current one at $7.5 million per season.
That’s if Tarasenko is even traded at all, and if somehow the Bruins were to bring forward the best package of assets above the bevy of NHL teams that would clearly be suitors. It all feels far-fetched and like something that would happen in the offseason ahead of Tarasenko’s no-trade clause kicking in, if it were to happen at all.
But it feels like this good-but-not-great Bruins team is going to need something special in the upgrade department if they’re truly going to compete for a Cup this season. The 27th rank in the NHL in goal production isn’t going to cut it against the best of the East and screams for another offensive force.
They tried to be bold last summer with the pursuit of John Tavares that ultimately didn’t work out and Don Sweeney and the B’s should be bold again now if Tarasenko is on the table in any way, shape or form.
Last night in Pittsburgh was another piece of evidence that they need another game-breaker to pair with Krejci and allow him to be the energized playmaker that he’s been (three goals and seven points in five games) since he began centering Marchand and Pastrnak.
Tarasenko, a bona-fide sniper, would be that guy and then some.
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