Bruins

Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-2 win over the Ducks

Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-2 win over the Ducks

Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-2 win over the Ducks Monday afternoon to win their fifth game in six tries to open the 2019-20 season. 

GOLD STAR: Who else but David Pastrnak? Pastrnak scored four goals for the first time in his NHL career and joined a pretty elite Bruins club that also includes Patrice Bergeron, who did it a couple of seasons ago. Pastrnak now has six goals on the season after his four-score outburst on Monday afternoon, and is in the middle of a Bruins Perfection Line that is humming on all cylinders right now after needing a game or two to get going this season. The four-goal game and the six goals in six games once again raises the question of whether Pastrnak is ever going to be able to score 50 goals in a season, and it’s something he certainly has a chance at if he can remain healthy. In this game, Pastrnak scored in all kinds of different wants including a PP strike on a one-timer from the circle, a finished goal on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush and a redirection while paying the price in front of the net.

BLACK EYE: Troy Terry was a hotshot college hockey prospect when he came on the scene a couple of years ago after starring with Ryan Donato in the Olympics. But he’s off to a brutal start this season with zero points in six games, and had no shots on net with a minus-2 rating in 16:39 of ice time for the Ducks in Monday night’s loss. He certainly looks like his confidence is low right now for a Ducks team that’s scraping and scrimping for offense, and that was reflected in what we saw on the ice. Man, if the Ducks didn’t have Rickard Rakell they would be a seriously anemic offensive team. It will be part of the growing pains for Anaheim to see if guys like Terry are going to be a part of the long term solution, and it sure hasn’t looked that way in the early going this year.

TURNING POINT: For the Bruins, it was getting their second goal of the game in the second period after largely getting outplayed by the Ducks while getting outshot 16-6 and hanging onto a slim 1-0 lead. The Bruins killed off a couple of Ducks power plays and then they scored on a 2-on-1 with Brad Marchand feeding David Pastrnak just as an Anaheim power play had ended. The goal gave the Bruins a little bit of breathing room and set them up for a third period where a couple more Pastrnak goals allowed them to pull away in the game.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jaroslav Halak and the Bruins goaltending continues to be a big story of success for the Bruins. Halak wasn’t perfect as he allowed two goals during the game, but he was pretty darn close in the second period when he stopped 15-of-16 shots as the Ducks clearly outplayed the Bruins in the middle 20 minutes. Halak stopped a couple of odd-man, 3-on-1 rushes during that period of time and allowed the Bruins to get their stuff back in order, which they did when they scored to make it a 2-1 game late in the second period. Both Halak and Rask have been among the league’s best goalies to start the season for the Bruins and it’s making a major difference for them.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – the number of goals for David Pastrnak, which also gives the Bruins Perfection Line 11 of the last 14 goals scored by the B’s overall in their last five games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “What’s on the forefront of my mind is more the other guys, what could we do to help them get going? And what can they do themselves to help themselves? So that, as a coach, is what I’m thinking about. I’m happy [the top line] is on, they’re going, the power play units found their mojo again, so that’s good. But my mind’s more on the other group. How can we help them out? We’ll keep looking at it.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the top-heavy nature of the Bruins offense right now relying on their top guys and top PP unit to score.

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Tuukka Rask responds to Bruins failing to earn No. 1 seed in Stanley Cup Playoffs

Tuukka Rask responds to Bruins failing to earn No. 1 seed in Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Boston Bruins won't be the No. 1 seed in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs after losing their second game of the NHL's round robin.

The B's finished the regular season with the league's best record, but under the format of the Return to Play plan, they still had to earn the No. 1 seed in a three-game round robin. Boston gave two lackluster performances in losses to the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning to open the round robin, and as a result, the Original Six franchise can't finish higher than the No. 3 seed for the first round of the playoffs.

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Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made his first round robin appearance in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Lightning, and he didn't sound too upset about his team failing to secure the top seed ahead of the playoffs.

"I think if you want to make a run in the playoffs, you've got to beat every team, anyways," Rask said. "The situation is what it is. I think the worst thing that's gonna happen to us is we're gonna lose the locker room in our practice rink. That's about it. I really don't care where we finish. We just have to focus on our game and try to do that Sunday, and then going into next week. You gotta beat everyone, anyways."

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was disappointed his team won't be the No. 1 seed, but he does think that seeding will matter less this season given the unique setting in the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles.

“Well, that part sucks, I’m not going to lie to you,” Cassidy said of the Bruins failing to get the No. 1 seed. “But that’s the situation this year with the stoppage of play. We knew the rules going into it that we would lose a little bit of the advantage we had gained. But we are where we are now. We’re just trying to win a hockey game right now and get our game together for 60 minutes so that we can be at our best (against) whoever we meet.

"This is one year I do believe the seeding is less relevant than others. I think everyone has discussed that. Would I have rather been No. 1 seed? Absolutely, keep it. That’s not going to happen. We’ll get ready for Washington, play the best game we can and prepare for the postseason. That’s our ultimate goal. You've got to win 16 games. We knew that going in and that will still be our goal.”

One reason why the seeding isn't as important compared to previous years is the lack of home ice advantage. Every playoff game will be in one of the two host cities, and there will be no fans at these contests.

Earning a high seed also is no guarantee of a lengthy playoff run. For example, the No. 1 seeds in both conferences combined to win just a single game in last season's playoffs, and all four wild card teams advanced to the second round.

However, there is one area where seeding is important in 2020. Instead of using a traditional playoff bracket, the league will re-seed after each playoff round. So, if the Bruins were the No. 1 seed, they would play the lowest-seeded team in every round. We also can't dismiss the fact that the Bruins' disappointing results in the round robin will give them a tougher-than-expected first round matchup against the likes of the Pittsburgh Penguins or Carolina Hurricanes. 

The most important thing for the Bruins right now is finding their identity and making the necessary improvements before the playoffs begin. They'll have a few days of practice to work on those adjustments before Sunday's round robin finale against the Washington Capitals.

Bruins vs. Lightning Talking Points: Chris Wagner bringing offense, energy for B's

Bruins vs. Lightning Talking Points: Chris Wagner bringing offense, energy for B's

GOLD STAR: The Bruins are going to continue to have trouble against the deeper teams in the league, and that means struggles against the second and third lines on quality hockey clubs.

That’s what happened against the Lightning on Wednesday afternoon with guys like Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn doing the damage for the Bolts. Johnson scored the game-winner with less than two minutes to go in the third period when he slammed home the rebound of a Yanni Gourde blast after the Lightning began tilting the ice in their favor toward the end of the game.

Johnson finished with a goal and two points, a plus-1 and four shot attempts in 12:53 of ice time for Tampa Bay while using his speed and creativity to manufacture offensive chances against different B’s lines.

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BLACK EYE: He was better in the first half of the game than the second half, but Zdeno Chara didn’t look all that good against the fast, skilled and deep Lightning group. He looked a step behind in the early going when the Bruins allowed a number of odd-man rushes leading up to the first goal, and then he and Charlie McAvoy both had a mental error on a too many men on the ice penalty that led to Tampa’s second goal.

Chara settled in as things went along and finished with an assist on a Chris Wagner goal that tied things up, so it wasn’t a total loss for the 43-year-old captain. But many are going to be looking at him to see how his skating legs respond to the long layoff from hockey over the last five months, and he had definite troubles in pockets of Wednesday’s game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins got the ice tilted on them in the third period when the Lightning outshot the B’s by a 16-9 margin and really laid it on in the final few minutes of the game before notching the winning goal.

It was a Bruins turnover from Brandon Carlo in the final few minutes as they were breaking the puck out that developed into Tampa counter-attacking and putting heavy pressure on the Bruins defense. Ultimately, the Tampa attack broke in all alone for the Tyler Johnson rebound goal after an initial Yanni Gourde blast. Carlo was another player that didn’t have a particularly strong game in 16:43 of ice time and probably needs to step up his game a little bit with the real Stanley Cup Playoffs less than a week away.  

HONORABLE MENTION: The best Bruins player through the first two games of the round robin has been fourth line winger Chris Wagner. The B’s forward has scored goals in each of the first two games and potted the game-tying score in the second period when he whacked home the rebound of a Zdeno Chara point blast.

Wagner finished with two shots on net, four total shot attempts, a team-high six hits and a pair of blocked shots in just 10:55 of ice time. If some of the other Bruins forwards were playing with the same level of energy, spirit and relentlessness right now, the Bruins would be in much better shape than facing a possible No. 4 seed to start the four rounds of the postseason. Wagner is bringing it right now.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the top seed is no longer achievable for the Bruins after losing both of the first two round robin games in regulation, and now they’ll need to play for final placement in the Sunday game against Washington. A loss could pit them against the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I thought it was a good effort. I thought we took it to them [after a tough start] and had some pretty good looks, some chances and tied the game up. Obviously, you want to give yourself a better chance and go into overtime and find a way. Not the result that you want but definitely felt more like [a good effort] tonight.” –Patrice Bergeron, on a loss to Tampa that started to feel a lot more like a typical Bruins game after two sluggish losses in the Toronto bubble.