Talking Points: Bruins get enough offense to take out Ducks

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Talking Points: Bruins get enough offense to take out Ducks

Talking points from the Bruins' 3-1 win over the Ducks. . .

GOLD STAR: Torey Krug continued with his recent offensive tear scoring the eventual game-winning goal in the second period, and finishing with a goal and two points in 20:30 of ice time. Krug finished with a game-high seven shots on net and nine total shot attempts while being extremely active attacking the net, and continues to shed some of the tendencies to shoot for tips and rebounds rather than going right at the net. The goal did arrive a little closer to the net, however, as he moved into the face-off circle before finishing off the criss-cross passing with a blast into the open net as John Gibson couldn’t recover quickly enough to stop it. Krug now has four goals in his last eight games and continues to add another dimension to Boston’s offense during his hot streak.

BLACK EYE: The Ducks penalty kill ends up being the biggest weakness in the game for either team as the Bruins struck for a couple of powerplay goals in the second period to wrest control of the game. It looked like it was going to be a 1-0 final based on the complete lack of offense in the first period for either team, but that gave way to the Bruins capitalizing on their special teams play in the second period like they have so many times this season. Going 1-for-3 on the penalty kill certainly isn’t a recipe for success, and the Bruins were really able to work the Anaheim PK for a couple of good offensive looks for David Pastrnak and Torey Krug.

TURNING POINT: For the Bruins, it was all about cracking open the seal and scoring that first goal with David Pastrnak. Once No. 88 had wound up and smashed the one-timer through John Gibson and given the Bruins a little energy and offensive life, they were able to seize hold of the game and start playing like front-runners. Prior to that, it had been a real struggle for either team to generate much of anything 5-on-5, and it certainly looked like it might be a while before either club was going to be able to scratch for at least one goal. Instead, the Pastrnak score opened the doors for the Bruins to score again in the second, and then tack on the insurance David Krejci score in the third period that carried them all the way to the coveted two points.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci scored his 600th career point with his third-period goal, and continued to be excellent at the controls centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak for his eighth straight game. Krejci now has five goals and 11 points in those eight games since sliding up to center the two-star wingers during a road game in Tampa, and he hasn’t looked back since then while ably filling in for the injured Patrice Bergeron. Krejci finished with the goal and two shot attempts in 15:45 of ice time while also going 6-for-12 in the face-off circle battling Anaheim’s top centermen. It will be interesting to see what the B’s do once Bergeron presumably returns on Saturday afternoon, but either way it’s been instructive to see Krejci play as well as he has in the last three or four years.

BY THE NUMBERS: 600 – the number of career points for David Krejci after scoring his goal in the third period of Boston’s Thursday night win over the Ducks.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I like snowmen.” –David Pastrnak, when asked about his blue snowman suit that he wore before and after Thursday night’s 3-1 win over the Ducks.  

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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.

Bruins vs. Lightning Overreactions: Jake DeBrusk's struggles are concerning

Bruins vs. Lightning Overreactions: Jake DeBrusk's struggles are concerning

It's hard to find much to like about the Boston Bruins' performance through two NHL round robin games.

The Bruins lost Sunday to the Philadelphia Flyers and again Wednesday to the Tampa Bay Lightning. As a result, the B's cannot finish any higher than third in the round robin standings, which means they won't be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs despite winning the Presidents' Trophy in the regular season.

Outside of a few impressive individual performances, there are plenty of areas for concern involving this Bruins team. The Bruins' top line -- arguably the best trio in the league -- has one point in these two games. Patrice Bergeron earned an assist on Charlie McAvoy's second-period goal against Tampa Bay. His linemates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have been held scoreless to this point. The second line has played even worse. David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk have generated almost nothing offensively. 

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Time is running out for the Bruins to analyze their play and make the needed corrections. Sunday's round robin finale versus the Washington Capitals is Boston's final game before the first round of the playoffs. 

Let's take a look at three instant overreactions from Bruins-Lightning and assess their merit (All advanced stats via Natural Stat Trick).

1. Jake DeBrusk's play is a concern
Verdict: Not an overreaction

The Bruins won't advance very far in the playoffs if their secondary scoring doesn't show up. One player who's relied on to provide this offensive production is DeBrusk, but he's been totally invisible through two round robin games. DeBrusk has zero goals and zero assists in two games, and after tallying two shots against the Flyers last weekend, he posted zero shots versus the Lightning.  The Bruins were out shot 11-4 during 5-on-5 action when DeBrusk was on the ice Wednesday.

DeBrusk scored a career-high 27 goals in 68 games last season, and he was unable to match that scoring rate this season with 19 goals in 65 games. The 23-year-old left winger scored only one goal in the last 14 games of the regular season, so his struggles in the Toronto bubble are not exactly new. DeBrusk is at his best when he's driving hard to the net and being aggressive, and we haven't seen enough of that in the round robin.

Let's not forget DeBrusk will be a restricted free agent in the offseason. He's playing for his first sizable contract, so he certainly doesn't need any more motivation to improve.

2. Bruins will have a really tough Round 1 opponent
Verdict: Not an overreaction

One of the consequences of the B's playing so poorly in the round robin is they will earn themselves a difficult first-round matchup. If the B's finish as the No. 4 seed, which is pretty likely at the moment, they would play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the Penguins are upset by the Montreal Canadiens in their qualifying round series, Boston would take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Round 1.

The Penguins would be the worst possible first-round opponent for the B's. Pittsburgh is loaded with veterans, many of whom were part of the team's back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and 2017. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are two of the best players of their generation, and they both have scored at better than a point-per-game pace in their playoff careers. The Hurricanes are a well-balanced team that ranked 11th in goals scored, eighth in power play percentage and fourth in penalty killing during the regular season. Carolina also is an elite puck possession team (fourth-best shot attempt percentage at 5-on-5) and gave up the third-fewest scoring chances at 5-on-5 in the regular season.

The Bruins' lack of results in the round robin has made their path back to the Stanley Cup Final a lot harder than it needed to be. It's a tough break for a team that won the Presidents' Trophy, but the B's knew the importance of the round robin and have still played terribly. 

3. Tuukka Rask will struggle to begin the playoffs
Verdict: Overreaction

Rask gave up a somewhat soft goal in the first period when the Lightning opened the scoring. The B's goaltender lost track of the puck and Lightning center Brayden Point was able to capitalize in front of the net. The Lightning scored again later in the first period on a double deflection that Rask didn't deserve much blame on. After that, Rask settled in and gave the Bruins a chance to get back into the game, and they responded by tying the score with goals from McAvoy and Chris Wagner.

Rask played his best in the third period with several important saves on quality Lightning scoring chances, including this one to deny Point.

Rask did give up the winning goal when Tyler Johnson pounced on a juicy rebound and scored to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead with 1:27 remaining. But overall, Boston's No. 1 netminder played well enough for fans to be optimistic that he'll be ready to perform at a high level when Round 1 of the playoffs begins. 

Wednesday's matchup was only Rask's second game since the season was paused in March. He was the league's best goaltender during the regular season and is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy. There's no reason to panic over his playoff readiness at this time.

Krug stands up for teammate, fights Lightning's Blake Coleman