Bruins

Talking Points: Bruins 'deserved better' in second period

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Talking Points: Bruins 'deserved better' in second period

GOLD STAR: A 39-save effort from Ducks goaltender John Gibson was one of the big difference-makers in the game. He made a sweet, spinning double-stack pad save on a Riley Nash bid in the second period, and then stoned Nash on a breakaway in the third period as well while infuriating the Bruins attackers. On the other hand, the Bruins didn’t consistently get traffic to the front of the Anaheim net and really settled for the perimeter for the most part, and that was a big factor in the season-high 41 shots on net for the Black and Gold. Still, the Bruins had some good chances when it was still a close game in the first couple of periods, and Gibson was up to the task in holding back the Boston offense.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins actually played a decent game all things considered, but a mental mistake for Zdeno Chara definitely hurt their cause in the second period. Chara was whistled on a delayed penalty call on a Corey Perry drive to the net, and then took a look at the official behind the net while play was still ongoing. Josh Manson took advantage of that split-second of distraction from the Bruins captain, and threw a centering pass off his skate that ricocheted past Tuukka Rask for Anaheim’s go-ahead goal. Chara finished a minus-3 at 25:33 of ice time in the loss, and the Bruins are going to be hard-pressed to win many games when their top defenseman is on the ice for that many goals against. The overall performance plus allowing himself to get distracted for Anaheim’s second goal were both big-time negative factors for Boston.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins outshot the Ducks by a 15-3 margin and dominated for nearly the entire period, but they still watched Anaheim score a pair of goals on the three shots. It was a couple of tough breaks for a Bruins team that really did play well over the course of the period, but that’s all small consolation for a team riding a four-game losing streak where it could get a lot worse before it gets better. The Bruins need better results when they actually play well, and that was the disheartening part of Wednesday night.

HONORABLE MENTION: Give Noel Acciari a ton of credit for suiting up under difficult circumstances and playing a great game. Acciari scored a rebound goal at the end of the third period, had a couple of shots on net in his 16 plus minutes of ice time and finished with a game-high 10 registered hits. The goal was Acciari’s first score of the season after beginning to generate his own offense at the end of last year. Acciari also blocked three shots and did everything you could hope for from an energy forward that’s just a couple of games removed from a badly broken finger. Acciari played with heart, emotion and energy. You’d expect nothing less from the ultra-competitive kid from Rhode Island.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – the season-high number of losses in a row for the Bruins as they face an uphill climb on this road trip through California with tough match-ups waiting for them in Los Angeles and San Jose.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I thought our second period was excellent and we deserved better, but it didn’t work out for us.” – Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, on a middle 20 minutes where they outshot the Ducks 15-3 but were outscored by a 2-1 margin. 

Bruins begin road trip with pick 'em matchup against Avalanche

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File photo

Bruins begin road trip with pick 'em matchup against Avalanche

The Boston Bruins (10-5-2) bring a two-game winning streak to Denver on Wednesday night, when goaltender Jaroslav Halak will also go for his third straight victory in net as they visit the Avalanche (8-6-3) in what is a pick 'em matchup on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Boston will be kicking off a four-game road trip at Colorado after winning its last two games at home as a solid favorite.

Halak (6-1-2, 1.77 goals-against average) has seemingly been reborn so far this season while filling in for Tuukka Rask, who just returned from a brief leave of absence to tend to a family matter and is expected to start either Friday or Saturday. But against the Avalanche, it will be Halak again between the pipes after he stopped 77 of 79 shots versus the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights last Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Colorado is looking to string two straight wins together here after ending a season-high five-game losing streak with a 4-1 road victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. The Avalanche had gotten off to a 7-2-2 start prior to their losing streak and beat the Oilers as small underdogs. They were also underdogs in four of the other games during their skid, with three of them coming on the road.

Some good news for Colorado in trying to win consecutive games is that the team has won the past three meetings with Boston along with six of the last eight, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. Two of the previous three wins for the Avalanche in the series have taken place on the road, and the last one was a 6-3 victory at the Pepsi Center on October 11, 2017. The Bruins were favored in all three games.

Boston is currently listed at +1200 (wager $100 to win $1,200) on the odds to win the Stanley Cup in 2019, tied for the fourth choice on the betting board with the San Jose Sharks. Colorado is further down the board at +3300 but may have some value if the team can go on another run.

The Bruins were tied for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Toronto Maple Leafs going into Tuesday's action with 22 points, and the Avalanche were fifth in the Central Division with 19 points.

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Jakub Zboril "feels incredible" about first NHL call-up to the Bruins

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USA Today Sports Images

Jakub Zboril "feels incredible" about first NHL call-up to the Bruins

The injuries to the Bruins back end have opened up opportunities for a number of young B’s defensemen this season, and there may be another one getting a chance on a West Coast trip starting tonight. The Bruins called up 2015 first round pick Jakub Zboril prior to leaving for Colorado where they’ll take on the Avalanche on Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center.

Needless to say the 21-year-old is excited about his first chance to play in NHL games after watching Jeremy Lauzon and Urho Vaakanainen make their league debuts this season, and watching fellow young D-men Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo make their marks over the last few years.

“My game has felt pretty good. It didn’t start out really well this season. The coaches weren’t happy, I wasn’t happy and they sat me down for a game to clear my head,” said Zboril, who has two goals and four points along with a minus-4 rating in 13 games with the P-Bruins this season. “I started playing a bit of a different game with more pace and more urgency, and I started picking up my game.

“This is going to be the first time for me being on an 8-day trip with the Bruins organization. It feels incredible being here, being part of this organization and finally getting called up. I came today and the guys started making fun of me that it feels like one guy from Providence comes up and another one leaves.”

It remains to be seen if there will be an injury that allows him to get into the lineup, but perhaps they may need his offense, skating and puck-moving ability against one of the opponents they’ll face on the road swing.

“He moves the puck well and he’s like a lot of young guys where he’s had some good games and some games where he needs to be better,” said Bruce Cassidy of Zboril, who had four goals and 19 points in 68 games as an AHL rookie last season. “We brought him up because [Brandon] Carlo is going to miss at least Wednesday and on the trip we want to be covered in case there’s a sickness or injury. He’ll travel with us. He’s the seventh [defensemen] right now. That could change, but that’s the [current] plan.”

It would be in Boston’s best interest if Zboril could really make a good showing at the NHL level both to boost his profile as a future asset for the Bruins, or as a possible trade chip when the B’s start looking for forward help. Zboril has watched as fellow 2015 first round picks like Noah Hanifin, Zach Werenski and Ivan Provorov have made names for themselves, and Jake DeBrusk has been the only one of the three consecutive B’s mid-first round picks that’s established themselves at the NHL level.

Getting called up to the NHL is the first step toward becoming a regular NHL player, and that’s still within the grasp of a talented young player like Zboril if he can harness the raw talent and begin to show what made the B’s select 13th overall three years ago. 

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