Bruins

What we learned in Bruins' 5-0 win over Islanders: Are B's better off without Krug?

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What we learned in Bruins' 5-0 win over Islanders: Are B's better off without Krug?

Here’s what we learned in the Bruins' 5-0 decimation of the New York Islanders at [what I’m going to still call] the Nassau Coliseum.

1) Are the Bruins a more difficult team to play against with Torey Krug out of their lineup? Certainly the argument can be made that the B’s are better defensively with No. 47 off the ice, and that's an easy case to make after a Tuesday night shutout in which the B’s limited the Islanders to just two shots in the first period and only 13 shots total. With undersized defensemen Krug and Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup, the Bruins don’t have any D-men that opposing forwards can really pick on, though it should be noted Grzelcyk is actually pretty strong defensively despite the size and strength disadvantage. But the installation of Connor Clifton along with John Moore back into the Bruins' lineup makes them a more rugged defensive unit and certainly gives them a tougher look in the defensive zone. Does it mean they should go with that when Krug and Grzelcyk are healthy and ready to return? Absolutely not, given that the B’s also need to score goals and they rely on Krug running things on their top power-play unit. That’s going to be a massive key to the postseason. But it’s interesting to note how the B’s play differently based on the personnel.

2)  Jake DeBrusk didn’t waste much time jumping back into the scoring fold after coming back from injury. Sure, he didn’t make a huge production splash after missing a week-plus, but he did connect on a breakaway goal after jumping out of the penalty box midway through the third period. So now DeBrusk has 9 goals in his last 12 games, and 23 for the season, as he builds momentum toward the postseason. It also goes without saying DeBrusk has the best goal celebration on the team, and he didn’t get any rust on those after not scoring for a couple of weeks.

3)  The fourth line had a confidence-building game on Tuesday night, and that’s a very good thing this close to the playoffs. While the fourth line was good during the regular season last year as well, they really got outplayed in the postseason, particularly in the second-round series against the Lightning. The B’s will need a much more effective, impactful fourth line during this spring’s playoffs and they were a dominant, energetic bunch against an Islanders team that's fighting for the Metropolitan Division title. It was Sean Kuraly who scored the first goal 1:10 into the first period when he spun and fired on an unsuspecting Robin Lehner, and then he scored again in the second period when he hopped on a Cal Clutterbuck turnover right in front of the Islanders net. Granted it was Chris Wagner with Kuraly and Danton Heinen in this game while Noel Acciari centered the third line against the Isles, but it will be Acciari, Kuraly and Wagner as the fourth line in the postseason. And -- as Acciari also scored Tuesday night -- they were definitely humming against the Isles from the very drop of the puck.

PLUS

-- Sean Kuraly registered the first two-goal regular-season game of his NHL career, set the tone with the first goal of the game just a minute into the first period, and finished with six shots on net while active all over the ice.

-- Patrice Bergeron finished with a third-period goal, was a plus-1 for the game with eight shot attempts while winning 13 of 22 draws in just 14:36 of ice time. It was a bonus that the one-sided nature of the game got No. 37 some rest.

-- Noel Acciari scored a much-needed goal and finished with a plus-2 rating, five shot attempts, two hits and a strong 5-of-6 performance in the face-off circle.

MINUS

-- Robin Lehner just completely whiffed on the first goal of the game, a Kuraly shot he definitely should have stopped, and that set the bad tone for the Islanders for the rest of a horrendous night.

-- One shot, one hit and a minus-3 for Leo Komarov in a totally ineffective night for an Islanders forward who's almost always noticeable when he plays. But at least he didn’t get licked on the face by Brad Marchand.

-- Nick Leddy, Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas were all minus-3 and just played bad hockey. Honestly, everybody outside of Matt Martin was pretty bad for the Islanders in the 5-0 loss. 

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Karson Kuhlman questionable for Leafs game after missing Bruins practice

Karson Kuhlman questionable for Leafs game after missing Bruins practice

BRIGHTON – The Bruins are getting a little banged up as they now get a little deeper into the regular season.

Bruins right winger Karson Kuhlman was missing from Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena after getting hit in the leg with a Jake DeBrusk shot during Saturday night’s overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kuhlman was limited to 9:19 of ice time in the overtime game and has gone scoreless in the first nine games of the season while playing mostly a top-6 role for the Black and Gold.

Likewise, David Krejci was missing from Monday’s practice and will again be out Tuesday night against the Maple Leafs that will make his third consecutive game missed since suffering an upper-body injury in last week’s win over Anaheim.

Both Joakim Nordstrom and Par Lindholm were wearing no-contact jerseys in Monday’s practice as well, and the Bruins had the bare minimum 12 forwards to practice with after a day off the ice completely on Sunday.

“Kuhlman is day-to-day and we’ll see how he responds [on Tuesday]. So that we’ll determine in the morning,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Lindholm looks good to go. Nordstrom probably not as far along as [Lindholm] as far as being good to go, but that’s a decision we’ll make tomorrow. Krejci won’t play [on Tuesday] and we’ll see how it works out for later in the week.”

Both Krejci and Nordstrom are out for the Leafs game and it looks like Lindholm is going to be able to play, so the health of Kuhlman is the one unknown headed into the B’s next game.

The good news for the Bruins is that they continue to stay healthy on the back end, and perhaps the injuries upfront will force the B’s to finally call up Anders Bjork from Providence as a reinforcement after a hot start for the P-Bruins. Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Monday’s practice ahead of the Tuesday night rematch between the Bruins and Leafs this time at TD Garden:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Coyle-Ritchie

Heinen-Lindholm-Backes

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

 

Rask

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Brad Marchand puts opponent in headlock, opponent calls it 'a great play'

Brad Marchand puts opponent in headlock, opponent calls it 'a great play'

Lost in the big divisional games over the last few days for the Bruins against the Lightning and Maple Leafs was a small moment toward the end of Thursday’s shootout loss to the Bolts that could have meant an extra point for the B’s.

During the closing seconds of overtime, the Lightning had the Bruins scrambling in their own end and Brayden Point collected the puck along the sideboards after already putting up a couple of points in the game. Brad Marchand then opted to put Point in a headlock and lock down any chances of the Lightning ending the game ahead of the shootout with only a couple of seconds remaining in OT.

There was no penalty, and even if there had been there was really no downside to doing it since Marchand would have been free and clear to take part in the shootout, as he did, even if a minor penalty had been called on him. It was a smart hockey play from a smart hockey player that’s always looking for an edge and doesn’t mind going the outside-the-box route that includes throwing a headlock on the occasional opponent.

Obviously it didn’t work out as the Bruins ended up losing 4-3 to the Bolts in the shootout, but interestingly enough even Point was giving the habitually line-stepping Marchand credit for “a great play” after it was all over.

“I’m going for the puck, really it’s a great play,” said Point of Marchand, who has four goals and 12 points in eight games this season to go along with the one headlock. “There’s not much time, he breaks up a potential chance for us and he still gets to shoot in the shootout. There’s no real consequence for that, so really it’s a good play.”

With a pair of points earned in the last couple of games, the Bruins have a few more big games this week against the Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues. It remains to be seen if No. 63 has any more “really good plays” in his bag of tricks after the savvy, on-brand headlock from Marchand during last week’s tangle with Tampa.

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