Early deficits are burying Bruins


Early deficits are burying Bruins

Here’s what we learned in the Bruins 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night at the Honda Center:

1) The Bruins can’t afford to be the comeback kids anymore
At least not until the cavalry arrives with some more reserves. The B’s have done a good job of battling to stay in games and have even engineered some pretty solid comebacks to salvage points along the way, but they are so undermanned and outgunned due to injuries that they can’t dig their way out of early deficits. They simply don’t have the offensive firepower five-on-five. They aren’t functioning normally on the power play with David Krejci and Ryan Spooner out and they are being forced to work extremely hard for any offense they’re getting. Playing from behind and chasing the game just exacerbates all of these things and creates a pattern where the B’s are constantly climbing uphill. So, the Bruins allowing the first goal in 11 of their 17 games isn’t a good sign for a team that’s having trouble finishing plays and ideally employs a style where they’re playing with a lead. Instead, there are too many games such as  Wednesday night where it feels like a Herculean effort to just to get things back to even and every little mistake turns into a death sentence. 


2) The Bruins can’t afford mental mistakes and focus problems from veterans
They certainly can’t survive them. Zdeno Chara has been very good this season and he’s had to be, given how many bodies the Bruins are missing. Wednesday night was one of the bad nights for the 40-year-old captain. To make matters worse on a night where he was a minus-3 overall, Chara had an uncharacteristic mental error at the worst possible time when he stopped playing to protest a call after he was getting a delayed penalty call on a Corey Perry drive to the net. Chara broke it up but was going to get called for a stick infraction, but instead, he lost focus to look at the ref for an instant and exactly at that time Josh Manson fired a puck off his skate directly in front of the net. That was Anaheim’s go-ahead goal after the Bruins had worked hard to tie it and the B’s started losing control of the game at that point. So, on the first night of a back-to-back on the West Coast, the Bruins played Chara a whopping 25:33 of ice time for a minus-3 performance where he clearly wasn’t at his best. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of hope that it’s going to be any better on Thursday night in Los Angeles. That doesn’t bode well for a Bruins team struggling to stay within shouting distance of a playoff spot.

3) Danton Heinen should be in Boston to stay
He’s still not exactly what he’s going to be when he’s fully developed as a player, but the crafty, skilled winger knows how to make plays in the NHL no matter who he’s playing with. Even better, he’s also showing some of the grit and battle that even skill players are going to need in order to create offense. On the goal he scored, Heinen won a couple of battles to extend the possession of the puck in the offensive zone and then took it straight to the middle of the net. Heinen waited out John Gibson, then lifted a backhanded bid after the Anaheim goalie impatiently dropped to the ice. Heinen, 22, is sixth on the Bruins in points (eight) despite starting the season in Providence and is showing the kind of talent that made him a top prospect coming out of the University of Denver. Heinen is on pace for 18 goals and 48 points and those are the kind of numbers they would gladly take from a young player in their time of need. Now, the Bruins just need Heinen to get even more dominant in terms of getting the puck on his stick and making things happen offensively.

*Noel Acciari was a beast for the Bruins scoring a late goal, leading all players with 10 registered hits and blocking three shots despite having just returned from a broken finger.

*Heinen finished with the goal and three shot attempts in 14:26 of ice time and was one of the few Bruins players able to break through for some offense and create their own scoring chance that was a little closer to the net.

*Congrats to the Northeastern University hockey program for creating a pair of players, Kevin Roy and Josh Manson, who both scored for the Ducks. It was Roy’s first as an NHL player. For the Bruins, who covet American college hockey players, it had to burn them to watch the Ducks using that formula to beat them.

*Zdeno Chara finished a minus-3 and had a distracted play in the second period where he was complaining about a penalty call, and allowed Manson to fire a puck off his skate when he stood right in front of the Boston net. It was not the B’s captain’s best night by a long stretch.

*Frank Vatrano finished a minus-2 with just a single shot on net and didn’t play with the same spirit, physicality and energy that he showed at home coming off being a healthy scratch. Vatrano needs to play every night the way he played last weekend at TD Garden against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

*Riley Nash had a fairly strong game, but he also had a pair of golden scoring chances where he was stopped by Gibson both tries including a double-stacked pad beauty in the second period and a clean breakaway in the third period. With so many players out, the Bruins need Nash to step up and finish some of those plays. 

Rangers hire David Quinn away from BU as new head coach

File photo

Rangers hire David Quinn away from BU as new head coach

In what is becoming a growing trend, a National Hockey League team has dipped into the collegiate ranks to find its next head coach. After a successful five-year stint as Jack Parker’s successor at Boston University, David Quinn has been named the 35th coach of the New York Rangers.

Quinn reportedly received a five-year contract to oversee a plan to reload the Blueshirts roster.

In that respect Quinn is perhaps the perfect choice for the Rangers -- a young, enthusiastic coach that excels in the teaching aspect of the game with young player. He posted a 105-67-21 record in his five seasons with the Terriers while developing young NHL talent like Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy and Clayton Keller. Quinn didn’t win a national title at Boston University but did finish as college hockey’s runner-up in his second season, losing to Providence College in the 2015 NCAA title game.

Leaving BU for New York had to be a difficult choice for the 51-year-old Cranston, R.I., native, given that the BU job probably could have been a lifetime gig (as it was for the legendary Parker before him). But there were certainly things about the Rangers job that Quinn couldn’t pass up, among them the prestige of coaching an Original Six team and also where familiar faces like Jeff Gorton and Chris Drury are part of the management team. Being able to compete head-to-head against his good friend Mike Sullivan, the coach of the Penguins, certainly didn’t hurt either.

Quinn expressed all of those mixed emotions in a statement released by BU when New York made his hiring official on Tuesday.

“I’m incredibly excited for this new challenge, but leaving a job like this is very hard to do,” he said. “BU is a special place that has given me so much, not only as a player and a student, but also as a coach. The lifelong friendships I’ve developed here over the years absolutely mean the world to me.

“I was so fortunate to work with the very best in athletic director Drew Marrochello and senior vice president Todd Klipp. BU hockey has always been bigger than the coach and they will bring in an outstanding one to continue the winning tradition here.”

Quinn is the latest in a new movement by NHL teams to pluck their coaches from the college ranks, which is producing so many quality players these days. The Flyers kicked it off in hiring Dave Hakstol away from the University of North Dakota a couple of years ago, and earlier this month the Dallas Stars hired Jim Montgomery away from the University of Denver after the Rangers initially showed interest.

It will be interesting to see where Boston University goes next. The Terriers have a wide swath of hockey-playing alumni to choose from, and people like Bruins assistant coaches Joe Sacco and Jay Pandolfo could also be candidates list if they wanted a college job.

Morning Skate: Look for Lightning strike in Game 7

Morning Skate: Look for Lightning strike in Game 7

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while we’re almost ready for Stanley Cup Final time.

*Who is going to step up in Game 7 between the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning for the right to play in the Stanley Cup Final? Put my money on Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Bolts, but don’t sleep on Brayden Point either. That dude has been awesome in this postseason for Tampa Bay. Make sure to check out all the action tonight (8 p.m.) on NBCSN where Game 7’s are treated with the proper gravitas and import.

*Interesting piece from Pittsburgh columnist Ron Cook, who says part of Pittsburgh’s downfall this spring had to do with a “sour relationship” between Phil Kessel and Mike Sullivan. Is Phil Kessel becoming a problem in an NHL dressing room? This is me with my “not shocked” face.

*Pierre Lebrun talks with TSN 1040 out in Vancouver about the Evander Kane contract extension with the San Jose Sharks, which is supposed to be in the seven-year, $49 million range. That is a massive gamble on a player that’s scored 30 goals once in a career where he’s underachieved most of the time. To put it in perspective, Kane will be getting paid $1 million more per season than a much better player in Boston in Brad Marchand. That’s the makings of a really, really bad contract in my humble opinion.

*PHT writer James O’Brien says that the Carolina Hurricanes trading Jeff Skinner would haunt the team, but it sure looks like the Canes are moving for a house-cleaning in Carolina.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Pothier out in Vegas says that all of the skepticism is gone when it comes to the Golden Knights acquiring Ryan Reaves after his big playoff moment.

*For something completely different: I’ve always wanted to see Mysterio on the big screen battling Spider-Man, and it looks like we will see that sooner rather than later as played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Sounds groovy to me.