A lot more missing from Bruins than Bergeron
What we learned: A lot more missing from Bruins than Bergeron
With the Bruins dropping the second of back-to-back games to the Colorado Avalanche, this one a sloppy, mistake-filled 6-3 loss at the Pepsi Center, here’s what we learned Wednesday night:
1) Bruins are missing their very best player and the guy that holds together a lot of different areas for them
This almost goes without saying. With no Patrice Bergeron the power play isn’t nearly as consistently effective, the penalty kill is averaging a PP goal allowed per game and the Bruins are allowing almost twice as many goals as they’re scoring. You can see it in some of the D-zone coverage issues right in front of the Boston net and certainly it’s apparent when you’ve got bottom-six guy Riley Nash trying to play in Bergeron's place between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The same goes for Ryan Spooner, who simply can’t handle fighting against the opposition’s best offensive players in the D-zone. It was nice to see Marchand start to create some of his own offense, but there’s a reason why No. 37 is widely considered one of the best players in the world. We’re seeing those reasons all adding up as the Bruins scramble to find some answers while Bergeron remains shelved with a lower-body injury. Worse than that, it feels like a lot of the emotional engagement you tend to see from the Bruins when they’re challenged is missing right now. That also feels like a Bergeron thing to me, so they need him to return as quickly as possible. He’s going to continue skating over the next couple of days, but it’s difficult to see him being ready to play back-to-back games this weekend in Arizona and Vegas. So, we’ll see when they get their leader and best player back.
2) No points and a combined minus-10 for Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk the past two games after an impressive opener
Charlie McAvoy has been a minus player the past two games and has watched his minutes spiral downward in the first three games of the season as well. There have been mistakes with all three in the D-zone and neutral zone and clearly, the offensive end of their game hasn’t been as productive as it was in the first game against Nashville. This is what we were talking about when we said the Bruins needed to be patient at the start of the season and ride through the peaks and valleys as the rookies, in key spots in the lineup, figure things out on the fly. The past two games against the Avalanche has been a big step back for Boston’s celebrated rookies and a harsh early lesson that it’s not going to be easy for them even against some of the weaker sisters in the NHL. Now, it’s up to them to respond with confidence and discipline and get back to the mindset of opening night where they played aggressive, assertive hockey without getting too bogged down in the D-zone complexities.
3) Matt Duchene is watching his value go up by keeping his mouth closed and producing
He is Colorado’s leading scorer with two goals and five points in four games, including a goal and two points against the Bruins on Wednesday night. He still has the speed and he rifled a shot under the bar against Tuukka Rask to score one of the pivotal second-period goals that pushed the Avs out to a three-goal lead and chased Rask. Would now be a good time for the Bruins to rekindle talks with the Avalanche and see if they’ve come down on their asking price at all after a tumultuous camp with him? Is Joe Sakic actually any closer to dealing Duchene now that the Avalanche are off to an okay start and he could potentially use that move as a means to further distance this year’s team away from last season’s disaster. Maybe so, but I still wouldn’t part with Brandon Carlo in exchange for Duchene, particularly now that he’s got less contract term before he hits free agency with next season as his last year under team control at $6 million per season.
*Brad Marchand was creating his own offense and at least providing something for the Bruins after a very quiet start and finished with a goal and two points along with six shot attempts in 20:53 of ice time. He was a minus player, but at least he was back to wreaking some havoc in the offensive zone like he usually does.
*Credit Adam McQuaid and Matt Beleskey for both answering the bell and dropping the gloves to show some emotions and veteran concern for this season. The McQuaid fight clearly had something to do with a Tyson Jost hit that shook up the Colorado rookie, but in both cases that was also tough B’s veterans trying to up the emotional ante for a Bruins team going through the motions a bit.
*Congrats to Danton Heinen, who finally collected his first NHL point in the third-period comeback that ended up falling short. It was Heinen’s first point in his ninth career NHL game and might be the kind of ice-breaker that could allow him to start building some confidence offensively in Boston.
*David Pastrnak has a team-worst minus-5 rating through the first three games and just has the single point from scoring Boston’s first goal of the season in the opener. Since then, he’s been shut down completely and been a minus player who looks incomplete without either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci as his center.
*Frank Vatrano is scoreless in three games with three shots on net and has been a minus player in that time as well. The Bruins need to either feature him in a bigger role to see if he can provide some scoring, or switch him out for another player in Providence that can be more useful in a limited, bottom-six role. Vatrano has been pretty invisible to start this season after a very blah training camp. It doesn’t speak well to his long-term future in Boston.
*Torey Krug scored a goal and generated more offense on Wednesday night, but he also finished a minus-3 and pinched pretty badly on the go-ahead goal in the second for Colorado that spurred on their unraveling. His quick progression from missed training camp to NHL action has also played a part the past two games. The hope is that he’ll back to his usual self for the rest of the trip after the tough re-entry.