Bruins

Talking Points from the Bruins 4-2 win over the Leafs

Talking Points from the Bruins 4-2 win over the Leafs

Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-3 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs Saturday night in Boston.

GOLD STAR: Brett Ritchie was pretty quiet for much of the first few weeks of the season after scoring in the season opener, but the Bruins power forward is getting hot at the right time for the Black and Gold. Ritchie scored the game-winning goal in the third period to break open a tie hockey game and played the kind of solid, strong game that the Bruins had in mind when they signed him as a free agent in the first place. Ritchie’s goal was simply good things happening to somebody that was hanging around the net as Jake DeBrusk’s shot bounced off a Leafs defender, and then landed right on the stick of Ritchie powering to the net. He flicked the shot past Michael Hutchinson for his second goal of the season, and added four shot attempts, four hits and a takeaway in his 13:26 of effective ice time.

BLACK EYE: Mitch Marner has routinely been a guy that kills the Bruins, but he was not very noticeable at all for the Maple Leafs against Boston. Instead he was on the ice for a couple of goals against in his 21:26 of ice time, was shut off the scoreboard and had three shots on net while doing very little else while Alex Kerfoot, Kasperi Kapanen and William Nylander accounted for the goals for the Leafs. Marner did his damage in the overtime win for Toronto last weekend when Boston traveled up to Canada, but he couldn’t summon that kind of speed and energy for the home-and-home rematch in Boston. Both Marner and Auston Matthews were average at best on Tuesday night and that’s why they ended up losing.

TURNING POINT: The game was tied 2-2 and the Bruins were playing a team that was going on the second night of back-to-back games with travel, so one would expect that the third period was going to be a good one for the Black and Gold. And it was. The B’s outshot the Leafs by a 14-8 margin in the final 20 minutes as it was pretty clear that Toronto was lacking in the skating legs department, and they poured on the two goals that ended up being the difference in the game. Certainly the Brett Ritchie goal six minutes into the period gave the Bruins confidence as front-runners on the scoreboard, and then killing the late penalty that turned into Par Lindholm’s goal was the coup de grace in the final period.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak continues to dazzle with his offensive skill, his game-breaking ability and the way he has carried the team in the first month of the season. He had a goal taken away in the first period when an offside was successfully challenged by the Leafs, but then he came back with a between-the-legs score that will make highlight reels for the rest of his career. It was Pastrnak’s NHL-leading 10th goal of the season, the 300th point of his NHL career and exactly what the Bruins were looking for to take the momentum headed into the first intermission. Pastrnak added five shots on net, seven shot attempts and he threw a nifty centering pass to Brad Marchand for his own goal in the second period.

BY THE NUMBERS: 500 – the number of career NHL games for Tuukka Rask, who also won his 269th career game in another milestone event against the Maple Leafs team that drafted him.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Everything catches my eye with him right now. He’s just on it.” –Bruce Cassidy on David Pastrnak, who has 10 goals and 17 points in nine games this season.

Highlights: Par Lindholm's goal seals win for Bruins>>>

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Rask knows he 'can't be too satisfied' with the way his game his taken a slide

Rask knows he 'can't be too satisfied' with the way his game his taken a slide

BOSTON – There’s no denying the single biggest common thread through the Bruins' four-game losing streak.

The same Tuukka Rask that was brilliant in the first month of the season has hit a rough patch in November and that tough stretch continued as he coughed up four goals in the third period of a 5-4 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Rask is 1-2-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average and .886 save percentage in four November starts and played a starring role as a liability in losses to Montreal and Florida the past week. It was Rask who was beaten in the first minute of the third period on a long-distance Aaron Ekblad shot where the goaltender admitted he was too deep in the net and it was Rask who didn’t shut off the post on Florida’s third goal scored by Mike Hoffman as Florida was storming back in the final 20 minutes.

“I should have been sharper in that third period,” lamented Rask. “There were a couple of soft goals and I let [the Panthers] kind of get some momentum. It’s a 60-minute game and we’ve been on the other side of it.”

It wasn’t quite as bad as the three soft goals he gave up that all clanged off his glove hand last week in Montreal, but it was far from vintage Rask at a time when a few different things are going wrong for the Bruins. Rask is still top five with a 2.16 GAA and eighth in the league with a .926 save percentage, but it’s a far cry from the .951 save percentage he racked up in 10 games in a red-hot October.

Clearly, Rask is going through the same kind of tough stretch that used to greet him the first month of the season, but this time, it’s hitting him after a brief, dominant stretch out of the starting gate. Perhaps the Bruins coaching staff will get a quicker hook with Rask the next time he shows signs of trouble as in the losses against Montreal and Florida, or Jaroslav Halak will be used with a little more frequency until Rask works out the kinks in his game.

At least the B’s No. 1 goaltender isn’t under any illusions about the way he’s played the past few games.

“In Montreal, I sucked. In Detroit, I felt okay. Today, in the last period there were a couple of soft goals, so I can’t be too satisfied,” said Rask. “But, hey, there’s a lot of hockey left.”

While it’s refreshing to hear the kind of accountability  Rask is putting out there, the Bruins aren’t going to go very far if Rask is talking too much about sucking and giving up soft goals. The B’s better hope that their top goalie gets locked back in pretty quickly so both the team and Rask can leave their early-season mini-slumps behind in the rear-view mirror.

 

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NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

Sure, the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs are months away, but it's never too soon to look ahead, right?

The competition for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference could be tight, as several teams have surged forward recently, including the Flyers, Panthers and Canadiens — all of which missed the playoffs a season ago.

The picture is also crowded out West, where not many teams have started to separate from the pack as of yet.

How are the Bruins stacking up after a four-game losing streak? And which teams are making leaps forward?

Click here for Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings.>>>>>>

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