Joe Haggerty's Talking Points: Bruins fortunate to escape with two points vs. Ottawa

Joe Haggerty's Talking Points: Bruins fortunate to escape with two points vs. Ottawa

GOLD STAR: Zdeno Chara netted the game-winner for his fifth goal of the season when he stepped into a Brendan Gaunce pass and launched a shot past Anders Nilsson from the high slot. The 42-year-old also impressively logged 23:35 of ice time in the second night of back-to-back games on the road and had enough in the tank to make the game-winning play in the third period.

Chara finished with the goal, a plus-2 rating, two shot attempts, a hit and three blocked shots in a rugged game that got chippier and more physical as it went along. In a great moment, Chara was also treated to a video highlight reel of his best moments with the Senators early in his career and then an announced congratulations for getting to the 1500th game of his NHL career earlier this season.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were fortunate to get the two points on Wednesday night. They really didn’t deserve to win the game based on the way they played the first 40 minutes against the Ottawa Senators. They managed just 10 shots on net in the first two periods, including a limp three shots on net in the first, and looked sluggish, lackadaisical and uncaring about the end result of the game after dropping eight goals on the Canadiens the night before in Montreal.

The Bruins showed up and scored a pair of goals in the third period to win the game and were fortunate that Tuukka Rask was on for the full 60 minutes. But they also are showing a tendency to play down to their competition and that’s a concern.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins could have really gone south when the Senators finally scored a goal in the opening seconds of the third period to snap a scoreless game. Anders Bjork couldn’t convert a 2-on-1 rush at one end and that turned into Thomas Chabot scoring on Tuukka Rask on a one-man defenseman rush at the other end of the ice.

Given the way the Bruins had looked in the first 40 minutes, one might have expected the Bruins to regress further as they did against the Detroit Red Wings on another sleepy night from the Black and Gold. This time around, though, Brad Marchand and the B’s responded with their own goal a little less than five minutes later, and then they almost immediately followed with the Chara game-winner. The Bruins had more shots on net in the third period (11) than they did in the first and second periods combined (10).

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Tuukka Rask, who was one of the few Bruins players that showed up from beginning to end against the Senators. Rask finished with 33 saves, including a big 15 stops in the second period while the Bruins were going through the motions, and made a key stop on an Anthony Duclair screened shot in the closing seconds of the third period to protect the one-goal lead for the Black and Gold.

Rask played an energetic game between the pipes which makes sense given he was one of the few B’s players that didn’t take part in Tuesday night’s blowout win over Montreal in the back-to-back situation. He also serves as the biggest reason that Boston ended up getting the two points in a game where they basically only showed up for the final 20 minutes.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of points for Brendan Gaunce as a member of the Bruins after a backhanded feed to Zdeno Chara for the game-winning goal in the third period. Gaunce and Jack Studnicka both clocked points in their first games for the B’s during the successful two-game road trip through Montreal and Ottawa.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We’ve played good hockey. We’re not [at our ceiling as a team] yet, and I don’t think any team is that this point. You want your team playing a good sample size into the second part of the year to know where you’re really at. But we do have some really good players and that goes a long way toward winning hockey games.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN following the game when asked if the Bruins have hit the high ceiling of their potential considering that they hold the best record in the NHL right now.

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Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the B's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche

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Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the B's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche

Here are my talking points from the Bruins’ first regulation loss at home in 2019-20:

GOLD STAR: It isn’t going to happen very often, but Ian Cole turned out to be the single biggest contributor in a team-wide win for the Avalanche. It was Cole that smoked a slap shot past the glove hand of Jaroslav Halak to give Colorado a 2-1 lead in the second period, and he made certain his first goal of the season was an important one. Cole also blocked five shots in 17:17 of ice time and was part of a gritty, determined effort to protect the lead once the Avs got up 3-1 in the third. He mixed in a couple of hits and a couple of takeaways as well, and made some big plays in what was pretty much a perfect game overall for Colorado.

HIGHLIGHTS: Bruins take first home regulation loss vs. Avs, 4-1

BLACK EYE: There’s more than a few, but how about Danton Heinen just not making the plays that he needs to make when he’s in the lineup? Forget about the zero shots on net in 16:45 of ice time, with a number of them either getting blocked or missing the net. That’s nothing new when it comes to a player that’s barely averaging a shot on net for game. But he also turned the puck over behind the Boston net in a sequence that led to Cole’s game-winner as the Bruins began to run around in the defensive zone. It was that particular play that led Bruce Cassidy to lament that the attention to details was lacking for his players at this point in the season. If Heinen isn’t making the little plays, is a minus player and isn’t bringing any offense, then he isn’t worth having in the lineup.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins went into the first intermission tied at 1-1 after only putting four shots on net, and should have had the kind of wakeup call that they needed to turn the intensity up a little bit. Instead they went through a second period where they again only put up four shots on net while falling behind by two goals headed into the final 20 minutes. The Avalanche only leveled five shots on net as well, but they scored on a pair of them and pounced all over Boston’s mistakes while playing a surprisingly disciplined, two-way game despite their explosive offensive players. This time around, the Bruins didn’t have any way to come back in the third period against a quality Colorado team that wasn’t going to fold for them.

#HaggBag: Any worries about the B's? Let's hear 'em

HONORABLE MENTION: One of the few players to put up an honest-to-goodness effort in the loss was the hard-hitting fourth liner, Chris Wagner. It was Wagner that redirected a John Moore point shot in the first period for his third goal of the season that gave the Bruins an initial lead in the game. Wagner led the Bruins with five registered hits, scored on the only shot on net he had in the game and won 5-of-10 face-offs that he took in his 12:39 of ice time. The shame was that there weren’t enough other players that rose to the level of urgency and compete that Wagner was showing throughout the game for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17 – The home point streak (12-0-5) is over for the Bruins as the Avs handed them their first regulation loss on home ice this year, and their first since Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues almost six months ago.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “There’s just a lot of details that are working us against us now. We’ve just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities in those situations. And live with the result. It doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I think we’re leaving plays on the table because our lack of urgency or understanding that teams are coming after us.” –Bruce Cassidy, lamenting the lack of urgency in the B’s game as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Avalanche.

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Highlights: Bruins can't seize momentum, fall 4-1 to Avs

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Highlights: Bruins can't seize momentum, fall 4-1 to Avs

FINAL SCORE: Avalanche 4, Bruins 1

IN BRIEF: The Bruins tied it early with a Chris Wagner tip-in off a John Moore shot from the point, but from there the Avs dictated play to hand Boston its first home loss in regulation at TD Garden in the 2019-20 season. It was a Pyrrhic victory for the Avs, though, who lost Calder Trophy favorite and former UMass star Cale Makar to injury.


BRUINS RECORD: 20-4-6 (46 points, 1st in Atlantic Division)





At Ottawa, Monday, 7:30 p.m., NESN

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