Here’s What We Learned from the Bruins 2-1 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place on Saturday night.
1) The injuries are coming in a big bunch for the Black and Gold. They were already missing Torey Krug from the end of training camp, and now Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller and David Backes were all hit at the same time midway through the four-game road trip through Canada. It sounds like a possible concussion for McAvoy that was slow to develop, it sounds like a hand injury for Miller after getting hit with a shot and it also sounds like a concussion for Backes after the high hit from Matt Benning in the Edmonton loss. The Bruins are officially saying that McAvoy and Backes “aren’t feeling well” or “aren’t feeling right” so there’s some level of unknown with both of them given the lack of confirmation. With McAvoy and Krug both out of the lineup, the Bruins are missing a lot of offensive oomph from the back end, and they’re also now being forced to play guys like Brandon Carlo in the 3-on-3 overtime. That was exactly the case on the game-winning play for the Canucks as Carlo had a turnover at the offensive blue line when he couldn’t handle a pass, and then compounded it by misplaying the 2-on-1 with Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat bearing down on them. With the Bruins already pretty one-dimensional offensively while relying on their top line and the top power play unit, the subtraction of Krug and McAvoy makes that even more pronounced with two playmakers now injured and on the shelf.
2) Pretty decent NHL debut for 19-year-old Urho Vaakanainen, who had a bit of a misplay on the first Vancouver goal when he followed Matt Grzelcyk behind the Boston net to chase at a puck carrier. But that was far from the biggest mistake on the play, and Vaakanainen settled down to play much better after that point. Vaakanainen finished with the minus-1 rating in 12:26 of ice time, had two shot attempts and one giveaway, and even got a little time on the penalty kill in his first time out. It was especially solid when considering that Vaakanainen played 26 minutes on Friday night in Providence, and then spent all of Saturday traveling across the continent to get to Vancouver in time for Saturday night’s game with both McAvoy and Miller on the shelf. Vaakanainen was certainly one of the good news developments in both training camp and now that he’s making his debut in the NHL, because it certainly appears like the former first round pick can play. And they need somebody like Vaakanainen that could bring a little more high end talent to the back end while the B’s are missing their blue line playmakers.
3) Interesting to watch Bruce Cassidy start to switch around that Perfection Line in the second period, and start to tweak things while looking for a way to coax more offense out of a team that’s down some good offensive players. Cassidy elevated Danton Heinen to the right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to start the second period, and slotted David Pastrnak into the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. It didn’t really bring any results for the Bruins, unfortunately, and Cassidy went right back to Pastrnak with Bergeron and Marchand when he still needed a goal to start the third period. They ended up getting it from Joakim Nordstrom rather than the top line, but it’s going to be tough for Cassidy to go away from a loaded top line at this point knowing that the Bruins are going to have to just survive the next week or two until they figure out what’s going on with their injured players.
--Joakim Nordstrom scored the game-tying goal to earn the Bruins at least a point, and has now matched his entire season offensive output from last season in Carolina with his two goals scored in the first few weeks of the season.
--Jaroslav Halak stopped 20-of-22 shots including a stop right at the end of regulation play to push things into overtime, and was once again pretty good even if the first goal he allowed was one that he’s probably like to have back.
--Credit to Noel Acciari, who didn’t like a big hit that Bo Horvat put on Joakim Nordstrom with a puck up in the air, and opted to drop the gloves with Horvat to help protect his teammate. Horvat got the better of him as Acciari wound up with a big cut under his eye, but that’s the kind of thing that makes Acciari such a good teammate.
--While it would have been good for Jaroslav Halak to make the save in the first period, it was Matt Grzelcyk’s inability to play a puck at his feet right in front of the net that led to Vancouver’s first goal in the game. Grzelcyk had a couple of giveaways and had some tough shifts skating with Urho Vaakanainen in the kid’s first NHL game, though he did also help set up the B’s only goal as well.
--No shots on net in 7:30 of ice time for Ryan Donato, who really hasn’t been able to make any impact at all offensively after scoring in the second game of the season against the Buffalo Sabres.
--Brandon Carlo had a good game, but unfortunately he was also forced into 3-on-3 OT duty with both Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug on the shelf. That turned into Carlo making a turnover at the offensive blue line in OT, and then compounding it by misplaying the 2-on-1 that led to the Canucks game-winning goal.