Bruins

Talking Points: Bruins starting to get offense from different corners

usatsi_11651074.jpg
USA TODAY Sports image

Talking Points: Bruins starting to get offense from different corners

Here are some talking points from the Bruins' 4-1 win over the Golden Knights. . .

GOLD STAR: It was kind of a lucky bounce, but give credit to Jeremy Lauzon for getting up ice, being ready and then hammering a puck into the open net for his first career NHL goal. Sure it took Malcolm Subban falling down after the puck took a wild carom off the end boards, but it also took Lauzon to be fully aware of what was happening leading up to his score. It was also Lauzon’s best game in Boston amid a couple of call-ups this season as he finished with the goal, a plus-1 rating and five shot attempts along with two blocked shots in 13:55 of ice time. Lauzon’s latest performance might have only been possible because of a Brandon Carlo injury, but he’s starting to show that he might just have a future in the NHL as well.

BLACK EYE: Malcolm Subban wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t very good either in giving up four goals on 37 shots to the Bruins while losing to the team that drafted him. The Golden Knights goalie really botched the game-winner when he came way out of the net to play a puck, and then fell down after a Sean Kuraly zone entry took a wild carom off the end boards. The puck bounced right to rookie D-man Jeremy Lauzon, who was ready to react and fired a puck into the open net for the second, game-winning goal of the season. The 24-year-old Subban is winless in four games this season with a goals against average approaching 3.00 and a save percentage well under .900, and is looking a lot more like not-ready-for-NHL-prime time that he always appeared to be in the B’s organization.

TURNING POINT: For the Bruins it was about getting on the board early and really taking control of the game in the first period. The B’s got scoring from somebody outside their top line and the No. 1 power play unit, and it arrived in the form of a Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork give-and-go that Heinen finished off right in front of the net for his second goal in three games. That score allowed the Bruins to get the upper hand over the Golden Knights, and then they were able to play the front-runner game with a couple more goals in the second period. But with the Bruins playing their third game in four days it was important to get off to a strong start, and that’s exactly what they did against a beatable Vegas group.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jaroslav Halak made some pretty strong statements over the weekend after a blowout loss to the Vancouver Canucks where he was yanked after giving up five goals. He stopped 77-of-79 shots in wins over the Maple Leafs and Golden Knights in back-to-back starts while Tuukka Rask is on a leave of absence, and was brilliant in both games at a time where the B’s really needed him to be while being backed up by Daniel Vladar. Halak may not any longer lead the NHL in goals against average or save percentage, but he’s been stellar in the early going while giving way above and beyond expectations performance this season. Sunday night’s effort against a Vegas team that got some pretty good redirection attempts against him was another gem for Halak.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of goals in the last three games for Danton Heinen after scoring again on Sunday to open things up for the Bruins offense. It was long past time for Heinen to join the offensive parade while scoring his first two goals this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Our top line is good. Our second line’s coming around. The power play generally produces, but at the end of the day you need balanced scoring to do it every night. We’re starting to see that the last three games I think we’ve been much better in that area.” –Bruce Cassidy, welcoming the diversity in scoring that the Bruins have begun getting over the last few games. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bruins getting frustrated with shootout futility: 'Usually shootouts are 50/50, right now it feels like it's 20/80'

david_pastrnak.jpg
File Photo

Bruins getting frustrated with shootout futility: 'Usually shootouts are 50/50, right now it feels like it's 20/80'

BOSTON – Boston, we have a problem.

One of the big bugaboos for the Black and Gold this entire season has been the shootout, and their complete futility at what’s essentially a skills challenge to determine a winner and loser in NHL regular season game. It cropped up again in Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals at TD Garden where the Bruins let a one-goal lead slip away in the final minute of the third period and watched as another team waited them out in overtime and the shootout for the two points.

For the second straight time, Charlie Coyle finally scored a goal for the Bruins during the shootout making him the only effective player in that arena this season. And Jaroslav Halak kept them in it with some acrobatic saves in the extra session.

But in the end, the B’s best available players didn’t come through in the shootout session and the Bruins dropped to 0-4 this season when it comes to the shootout.

“I think so,” admitted Pastrnak, when asked if the shootout problems have become a bit of a mental issue at this point. “We know it hasn’t been our strength and we haven’t been able to pull a win out of the shootouts. It sucks obviously. Usually shootouts are 50/50, but for us right now it feels like it’s about 20/80.”

Or 0/100 actually at this point.

Part of the issue for the Bruins is their inability to beat teams in overtime and the other part is a complete inability to even be competitive in the shootout.

“In our group, now, at some point, the conversation becomes ‘do you sell out in overtime because we struggle in shootouts, right?’ But, at the end of the day, I thought we’ve made strides in overtime,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We lost a lot of [overtime games] early, at least we’re getting our opportunities to win in overtime, so we’d like to be able to close one of those out. But that’s a bit of the, maybe, what’s happened in the shootout, right?

“When you get in all alone [at the net on breakaway chances], we’re more of a volume team, even though we have high-end skill, it would seem in the short sample size. It’s now growing into a larger sample size, so it’s something we’re looking at. But we’re not going to overanalyze. Every day, it’s been so much time in practice [so] we [can’t] forget about the rest of the game that I feel is more important for us down the road, but we do need to address it. We have, but maybe we need a little bit more time on that.”

Part of the problem is that Boston’s goaltending becomes less than elite in the shootout, and it’s a noted area of the NHL game that Rask has never particularly liked, or felt comfortable with, during his NHL career. Halak gave the Bruins a fighting chance with diving saves in Saturday night’s loss, so that wasn’t the issue at all.

Instead it’s a Bruins team that’s 2-for-16 overall in the four losses in the shootout this season, and Boston’s big offensive guns in Marchand (0-for-4) and Pastrnak (0-for-3) are a combined 0-for-7 this season. Pastrnak is now 3-for-20 over his career with a very middling 15 percent success rate in the shootout, but Marchand is a bit better with nine goals in 41 career attempts for a 21.9 percent success rate.

Strangely enough, Patrice Bergeron is one of the most accomplished shootout guys on the Bruins roster with 28 goals in 89 attempts for a 28.1 percent success rate, but he was never tapped in any of Boston’s first three shootouts before being unavailable due to injury on Saturday.

The Bruins tried something different by giving fourth line winger Chris Wagner shootout attempts in each of the last couple of games after showing some decent moves within his breakaway chances.

But Wagner is 0-for-2 as well and at this point doesn’t really merit any more looks ahead of more offensively accomplished players on the Bruins roster.

So what can the Bruins do at this point given the shootout futility where their best players aren’t getting it done?

Part of it involves sticking with guys like Pastrnak and Marchand that have the goods to eventually succeed in the shootout, and part of it might be practicing it a little more often than the Bruins do in their hectic practice schedule during the regular season.

The other part?

It’s probably time to use some younger guys like Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen that don’t have a book on them already around the NHL when it comes to shootout tendencies, and perhaps grooming one of them to be a shootout specialist with a varying degree of moves. They may never be the shootout weapon that TJ Oshie is with his career success rate of over 50 percent in the shootout, but they might actually pick up the extra point once in a while.

That is something the Bruins aren’t doing right now and it’s already cost them four very valuable points this season.

Haggerty's Talking Points: Cut Halak some slack in Bruins loss>>> 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device

Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-2 shootout loss to the Capitals

jaroslav_halak_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Talking Points from the Bruins' 3-2 shootout loss to the Capitals

Talking points from Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Capitals at TD Garden . . . 

GOLD STAR: The Bruins wouldn’t have even received a point in Saturday night’s game if it weren’t for the efforts of Jaroslav Halak. The B’s netminder stopped 42 shots and was brilliant from beginning to end against a Capitals team that outshot Boston nearly 2-to-1 through the course of the entire game. He stopped 17-of-18 in the first period when the Bruins didn’t have their legs under them, and would have stolen the game for Boston if Zdeno Chara could have cleared the zone ahead of T.J. Oshie’s game-tying in the final minute of the third period. He was just as good in the shootout, with diving stops that kept the Bruins in the extra session, and certainly deserved a better fate at the end of the day.

🏒 HIGHLIGHTS FROM BRUINS' 3-2 LOSS TO CAPITALS

BLACK EYE: It’s time for Bruce Cassidy to stop over-thinking the shootout. He tried to use Chris Wagner based on a pretty good breakaway move he’s showed at times, and the thinking there was that perhaps an outside-the-box choice work create a shootout spark for the Bruins. Well, it has not, and instead Charlie Coyle is the only player that’s had success in the shootout this season for the Bruins, who are now 0-for-4 in shootout games. They need to go with a much more straight-ahead shootout philosophy, where they just get their best offensive guys out there quickly. That means having Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak as two of your top three guys to start, and perhaps featuring Coyle more now that he’s enjoyed some success. One thing is certain: They need to do something differently, because whatever they’re doing right now isn’t working.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins were hanging on by a thread while protecting the one-goal lead in the third period, and were outshot by an 11-6 margin by Washington while they put a ton of pressure on the Boston defense. Jaroslav Halak was up to the challenge for most of the period and the Bruins had a couple of chances to extend the lead, including a David Krejci redirect that went through Braden Holtby’s pads and trickled past the net, but the undermanned Bruins simply ran out of gas when it came to holding their slim lead. With the Bruins missing their best defender in Patrice Bergeron due to injury, T.J. Oshie scored the game-tying goal with a little less than a minute left to play with Sean Kuraly out on the ice with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. That’s not the ideal shutdown forward crew for the Bruins and it came back to bite them in the end.  

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak was one of the few Bruins playing with some energy throughout the game, and he scored what looked like was going to be the winning goal a few minutes into the second period. Pastrnak had a monster shift where he kicked things off for David Krejci and Charlie McAvoy to connect for a scoring chance, but McAvoy missed the open net with a one-timer shot from the slot. Pastrnak alertly picked up the puck and fired a bad angle shot for his 17th goal of the season. He was a key piece of offense with the Bruins missing so much of their firepower between Bergeron, Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk. Pastrnak finished with the goal, 10 shot attempts and a couple of takeaways in 22:58 of ice time for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-for-4 – The Bruins’ record in the shootout this season. They continue to lose vital points in the glorified skills challenge, with only Coyle seemingly enjoying any success.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “He was our best player by far. [It’s] disappointing that we couldn’t finish it because I thought our third period, we really bought into what we needed to compared to the Florida game, for example. We didn’t give up much at all [at the end of the game].” –Bruce Cassidy, on Halak and the improved third period for the Bruins, compared to their collapse against the Panthers a few days ago.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device