Bruins

Talking Points: Halak & Rask embarrassed in Bruins' 8-5 loss to Canucks

Talking Points: Halak & Rask embarrassed in Bruins' 8-5 loss to Canucks

The Bruins held the Vancouver Canucks to eight goals over seven games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, only to concede eight goals to the Canucks over 60 minutes in a sloppy affair at TD Garden Thursday night. Here are the talking points from Vancouver's 8-5 rout.

GOLD STAR: Bo Horvat was the best player on the ice when the Canucks beat the Bruins in Vancouver, and he did the same thing against the B’s again this time in Boston. Horvat scored a pair of goals and had four points in 19:03 of ice time along with a plus-2 rating, and got the Canucks on the board early with a nice play at the B’s blue line. Horvat caused David Backes to hear footsteps as he was receiving a pass, creating a turnover where Horvat was able to cruise right in and snap one past Jaroslav Halak to get the Canucks going. Horvat finished with five shots on net, a hit and won 16-of-30 face-offs in a really good all-around effort, continuing to show why he’s leading the talented group of Canucks youngsters to bigger and better things.

BLACK EYE: The goaltenders were both bad for the Bruins as they gave up eight goals on 33 shots between Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask. Halak was the one stumbling out of the gate as he allowed five goals before getting pulled in the second, and then Rask couldn’t do anything to stop the bleeding while giving up another three goals on 14 shots. Some of it was about turnovers and shoddy penalty killing, some of it was about soft defense around the front of the net and some of it was about pucks squeezing through the goalies a little too easily. There was also the terrible Rask play on the PK where Horvat intercepted the puck on a Rask clear attempt, and then easily fired it into the vacated net to pad Vancouver’s lead. It will be interesting to see what Bruce Cassidy will do for goaltending this weekend after both netminders struggled on Thursday night.

TURNING POINT: It was a one-goal game in the second period when the Bruins were threatening and David Krejci rocked a shot off the crossbar that just missed being a goal. It was late in the second when this happened, and a Bruins goal at that juncture could have pushed the B’s and Canucks into the second intermission tied at 5-5 with a lot of Boston life in the final 20 minutes. Instead Krejci zinged it off the bar, and the Canucks managed to score on an Erik Gudbranson shot from the point that found a hole against Rask. That made it 6-4 headed into the third period and pretty much made it impossible for the Bruins to dig all the way back against a high-octane Vancouver group.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jake DeBrusk was one of the few good stories for the Bruins in this game as he finished with a pair of goals and three points in 15:27 minutes of ice time that might have marked his best game of the season. DeBrusk finished with the three points and the plus-1 rating, had seven shot attempts and even threw a couple of hits and blocked a few shots in one of his best all-around games. DeBrusk was camped in front of the net redirecting pucks and paying the price, and showing the way to some offense for the rest of the young guys on the B’s roster. It’s probably no coincidence that Danton Heinen scored his first goal of the season later in third period doing the same thing: paying the price in front of the net. The B’s could use a hot streak from DeBrusk offensively, and maybe that starts right now.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the first goal of the season for Danton Heinen scored against the Canucks in his 13th game of the year for the Bruins.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I was just trying to keep it under 10 [goals allowed]. That’s what I was worried about. But yeah, like I said, a loss is a loss, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. It was kind of a crazy game both ways. You know, a lot of goals scored and there was – at the end it looked like everyone was napping in the crowd. It was just one of those games where there wasn’t a whole lot of action on either end and all of a sudden it’s 5-3, 8-5 whatever. So yeah, weird game but that’s entertainment and we’re just providing it.” –Tuukka Rask, trying to describe what happened in the 8-5 loss to the Canucks.  

What We Learned in B's 4-2 win over Kings

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What We Learned in B's 4-2 win over Kings

Here’s What We Learned in the Bruins 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center on Saturday night:

1. Not only is Charlie McAvoy rounding into form after a first half full of injuries and getting up to speed, but he’s starting to regain that confidence and clutch ability that he regularly flashed in previous seasons in a Bruins uniform. After a rough game on Friday night against the Ducks, the 21-year-old McAvoy bounced back with a clutch game-winning goal late in the third period against the Kings on Saturday. It was a sweet give-and-go play with Jake DeBrusk to score the goal in the final two minutes of regulation play, and sparked a two-goal outburst that allowed the B’s to finish the second night of road back-to-back games with a big time kick. But it wasn’t just the final play for McAvoy. He finished with a plus-1 in 19:16 of ice time, four shots on net, six shot attempts, three hits and a pair of blocked shots in an excellent all-around effort. McAvoy continues to put together consistently excellent efforts over the last few weeks, and has two goals, four points and a plus-8 in eight games during the month of February while playing like a No. 1 D-man in the making.

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2. The Bruins continue to put themselves in a very good position. They’ve now won five games in a row and moved past the Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division, which would give them home ice advantage in a repeat first round rematch against the Maple Leafs if the season ended right now. It would also put two of the NHL’s best teams, according to points, in the first round of the playoffs, which is perhaps inevitable given how stacked the Atlantic Division has been this season at the very top. But credit where it’s due with the Bruins, who continue to play very well when injuries throw a monkey wrench into their plans. One other correlation between the B’s winning streaks and a common denominator from their play: The Bruins get great goaltending whenever they start stringing together wins in a row and making a push up the standings. Jaroslav Halak was excellent in shutting out the Ducks on Friday night, and Tuukka Rask was similarly excellent in the 4-2 win over the Kings including a stupendous double-stack stave on Alex Iafallo in the second period when things were still very tight with the Kings.

3. The jury is out on Karson Kuhlman. The center played under 10 minutes of ice time and had a shot blocked in his only mark on the stat sheet. Credit Kuhlman for not looking out of place and for playing a strong all-around 200-foot game, but he also didn’t do much to distinguish himself from anybody else, or from being more of a factor than David Backes is on most nights after Backes was the one scratched in place of him. He’ll certainly get more of a look given the strong game he played in Providence, but he’ll need to be better than he was on Saturday if he wants to stick around Boston. 

PLUS

*Charlie McAvoy scored the game-winning goal, filled up the stat sheet in almost 20 minutes of ice time and generally played another excellent game against the Kings and one of his NHL role models in Drew Doughty.

*Tuukka Rask stopped 23-of-25 shots that he faced, and made a highlight reel-worthy double-stacked save on Alex Iafallo in the second period during an odd-man rush for the Kings. Rask made 10 saves in that pivotal second period and did a good job of keeping the Bruins in it.

*Jake DeBrusk has now scored goals in three straight games and is riding a hot streak to rival the cold stretch where he didn’t score a goal for over a month.

MINUS

*Drew Doughty was on ice for three of the four goals allowed by the Kings, and that is something you really don’t see every day. He wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t his usual Doughty-self either while being forced to play almost 30 minutes of ice time.

*Anze Kopitar finished a minus-2 and lost 12-of-19 face-offs in an uncharacteristically bad game for the usually adept two-way center. Call it to the Patrice Bergeron factor if you want, as he always seems to play top level against his Selke Trophy-winning peers.

*Matt Grzelcyk finished a minus-1 and looked rusty for the Bruins after returning to the lineup from a lower body injury that cost him the last few games played for the Black and Gold.  

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This stat shows Bruins forward Brad Marchand's impressive consistency

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This stat shows Bruins forward Brad Marchand's impressive consistency

There's no question Boston Bruins star Brad Marchand is one of the best wingers in the NHL, and consistency has become a huge reason for that.

Marchand scored a goal in Saturday night's 4-2 road win against the Los Angeles Kings, giving him a team-leading 70 points (also leads the team with 47 assists) through 58 games. It's his third straight season with 70-plus points, moving him higher on an impressive list of scoring wingers in Bruins history.

Hitting the 70-point mark in three consecutive seasons is pretty good, and Marchand is the first Bruin to accomplish that feat since Marc Savard from 2006-07 through 2008-09.

Marchand has scored at better than a point-per-game level in each of the last two seasons, and he's projected to do it again in 2018-19. His current pace would put him at just under 98 points by the end of the regular season. Marchand also is well on his way to finishing as the B's top scorer for the third consecutive campaign. 

The Bruins are on a 10-game point streak (including five wins in a row) entering Monday night's game against the San Jose Sharks. Marchand has tallied 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) during the team's point streak, serving as the catalyst for the Boston's offense without leading goal scorer David Pastrnak, who will miss several weeks with a thumb injury.

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