Bruins

Talking Points from the Bruins' 2-1 loss to the Blues in Game 5

Talking Points from the Bruins' 2-1 loss to the Blues in Game 5

Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 2-1 loss to the Blues in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden Thursday night. 

GOLD STAR: Ryan O’Reilly has really stepped up for the Blues in the last couple of games with St. Louis in need of secondary scoring. He provided the early goal for the Blues in the second period after scoring a pair in Game 4 in St. Louis, and factored into both goals for the Blues in an outstanding all-around performance. O’Reilly finished with a goal, two points and a plus-2 in 19:19 of ice time, four shot attempts, three takeaways and three blocked shots along with a dominant 19-of-28 in the face-off circle in a Bergeron-esque performance. O’Reilly has done a great shutting down the Krejci line throughout this Cup Final series and he worked him over on the face-offs. If the Blues do indeed end up winning the Cup then O’Reilly’s emergence in the middle games of the series will be a big reason behind it.  

BLACK EYE: Kelly Sutherland and Steve Kozari were brutal in this Game 5, and Sutherland could have the blown call of the series after missing an obvious Tyler Bozak trip on Noel Acciari that directly led to the game-winning goal for the Blues. Bozak essentially kicked Acciari’s legs out from under him causing a turnover, and then even stopped playing and seemed ready to head to the penalty box until he saw that neither of the referees had their arm raised. It wasn’t just there, though. They also missed Alex Pietrangelo hanging onto Torey Krug for dear life on a play that led to another scoring chance that David Krejci blocked at the end of the second period. And they missed an Ivan Barbashev headshot on Marcus Johansson in the opening few moments of the game that set the tone for how things were going to be called. In a Stanley Cup playoff season where one of the biggest talking points will be blown calls by the officials, Game 5 is unfortunately all too appropriate.

TURNING POINT: While everybody is going to be talking about the non-call on the tripping of Acciari, and rightfully so, it’s also about a first period where the Bruins outshot the Blues by a 17-8 margin and couldn’t get anything past Jordan Binnington. He made a nice save on Patrice Bergeron in the slot during a first period Bruins power play, and held strong on a second-period play where David Pastrnak was trying to stuff the puck in over the goal line. It felt like the B’s would come to rue the chances they couldn’t capitalize on in the first period if they ended up losing the game, and that’s exactly what happened in a game where playing front-runners with a lead really could have helped them quite a bit. Some of the credit goes to Binnington, but it’s also on the B’s to find a way to get the puck through the St. Louis defense and into the net.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zdeno Chara wasn’t shying away from contact, was killing penalties with his usual ferocity and looked perfectly fine jumping back into the fray with the broken jaw. The Bruins fans gave him a massive ovation in the starting lineups and there were “Chara” chants breaking out during the first period. He finished with two shots on net four hits, a takeaway and three blocked shot in 16:42 of ice time. He looked like he maybe wasn’t seeing the puck cleanly while handling it and he certainly seemed to be protecting himself at times during contact, but he also was a pretty good version of himself despite playing with a broken jaw. And Chara certainly provided a lift for his teammates by playing through what must have been excruciating pain. So a tip of the cap to another feat of strength performed by the B’s captain.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-for-3 – the Bruins had their chances on the power play, but couldn’t get anything past Jordan Binnington and managed only five shots on net through six minutes of power play time.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Yes.” –Torey Krug, when asked if he thinks that the Stanley Cup Final has been officiated differently since Blues head coach Craig Berube complained between Game 3 and Game 4 about the penalties called on St. Louis.

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Sean Kuraly, Bruins fourth line 'trying to get back to what makes them a good line'

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Sean Kuraly, Bruins fourth line 'trying to get back to what makes them a good line'

BRIGHTON, Mass. — While there are obviously plenty of things that have gone right for the Bruins given their standing in first place in the Atlantic Division, their fourth line hasn’t really been one of them.

A big part of it, obviously, is the number of injuries suffered early in the season with left winger Joakim Nordstrom out of the mix for 11 games, so the continuity wasn’t there early in the season with a number of different faces on Boston’s energy line.

But the regular trio has been together for the last few weeks, and still hasn’t completely found the footing that made them one of the most effective fourth lines in the NHL last season. They have combined for just four goals in the first 20 games this season, and both Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly have been minus players this season.

The good news is that some offensive opportunities are beginning to come their way, enough so that Wagner has been unsuccessfully tapped for the shootout in each of the last two instances where the Bruins made it to the extra season.

But it’s also clear to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy that his fourth line needs to get back to basics and do what they do best in playing with speed and physicality, shutting down top lines and occasionally popping in secondary offense when chances present themselves. Right now they are doing some of that, but clearly haven’t hit the high levels they were at a little more often last season.

“I think [Kuraly] is losing sight a little bit of what makes them a good line, and what makes him a good player. He’s visibly frustrated when he’s not finishing, which I get. Guys want to score. But that shouldn’t then affect the rest of his game, and I think it has a little bit. We’ve pulled them aside as a line, especially the assistant coaches, and have gone through things when they’re solid,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I think the puck is finding Sean and the rest of their line; they just have to finish. But he really has to make sure what his primary role is and that’s been our message to him.

“That’s being a shutdown guy and making life miserable for one of their top two lines, and then get the job done on the penalty. I don’t want to say the offense is gravy, but you’ve just got to play through that part of it and not let if affect you mentally.”

Kuraly himself admitted that it hasn’t been an easy go of it this season and understands exactly what needs to be done to get them back to their high level of play.

“My details can be better and that’s my focus. I want to be top end at the little things and the details,” said Kuraly, who has been a minus-3 with just five shots on net in the last five games for the Bruins. “I think some of that might have slipped lately and my focus is going to be getting that back to what it was. It’s realizing when I do that, I give the team a good chance to win — and when I don’t, it can hurt us. A lot of that can fall on me.”

Maybe what the B's fourth line needs is simply to play crash-and-bang hockey with some responsible defense thrown in for a couple of games. Once they have become difficult to play against once again, then the offense will follow afterward.

It remains to be seen exactly when the B’s energy line is going to make the expected turnaround, but it sounds like everybody is on the same page as to how exactly that’s going to happen, when it does happen.

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Bruins' Jake DeBrusk, Brett Ritchie trending toward return vs. Devils

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Bruins' Jake DeBrusk, Brett Ritchie trending toward return vs. Devils

BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Bruins should get at least a couple of pieces of their team back from injuries for Tuesday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Jake DeBrusk (lower body) and Brett Ritchie (upper body) both skated without restrictions in Monday morning’s practice at Warrior Arena, and it sounded like they would play against the Devils barring any setbacks following practice. For DeBrusk, it will be a welcome return after a five-game absence and he’ll hope to pick up where he left off with goals in each of the two games before he got hurt early in the first period against the Canadiens on November 5.

“I’m feeling good,” said DeBrusk, who has three goals and six points in 15 games this season. “I’ve obviously been missing the game, so it was great skating with the boys today. I scored in back-to-back games before Montreal, so I used the time [out with injury] to reflect on things and rejuvenate myself in a way. It was different things that were getting to me a little bit. I used the time to be more mature with my approach [to the game] coming back whenever that is going to be.”

Patrice Bergeron (lower body) didn’t skate with the Bruins on Monday and will be a game-time decision against the Devils while planning to travel with the team to New Jersey. Torey Krug (upper body) skated ahead of practice on Monday and could be nearing a return to the lineup as well, but he won’t be playing against the Devils.

“Ritchie and DeBrusk both skated and no residual effects right now, so we anticipate they’re going to play,” said Cassidy. “We’ll put them as game-time decisions. “Krug skated. He’s not available [against the Devils] so he’ll be available a little later as well.”

As far as other injured Bruins are concerned, Kevan Miller has had a couple of days off the ice, “won’t play this week” but is looking at a possible return to game action next week after he was not on the ice with the team on Monday morning. John Moore (shoulder surgery) did skate with the main group and continues to make progress in his recovery from offseason surgery.

Tuukka Rask will get the start against the Devils on Tuesday night, and both Brendan Gaunce and Urho Vaakanainen were called up to the Bruins ahead of Tuesday’s trip to New Jersey. It didn’t look like Gaunce will be playing against the Devils, however, unless somebody expected to play isn’t able to at game time.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings for Tuesday night’s game vs. the Devils based on practice:

PROJECTED LINES

Brad Marchand David Krejci David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork Charlie Coyle Danton Heinen
Jake DeBrusk Par Lindholm Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk Brandon Carlo
Urho Vaakanainen Connor Clifton

STARTING GOALIE

Tuukka Rask

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