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What we've learned from the Bruins' undefeated start to 2019-20 season

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What we've learned from the Bruins' undefeated start to 2019-20 season

Here’s What We Learned from a weekend where the Bruins took a 1-0 shutout victory over the Arizona Coyotes to push out to a 2-0-0 start on their four game Western Conference swing to begin the regular season.

1)      Jaroslav Halak looks primed to again take playing time from Tuukka Rask. The talk during training camp is that Rask would probably get more in the range of 50-55 starts this season after finishing with only 46 games played a season ago. He wouldn’t be taking any leave of absence this season, after all, and one would expect that Rask is going to get off to a better start than he did last season when he limped through October. Obviously Rask looked good on opening night and it doesn’t appear that we’re going to see his usually sluggish start, but Halak was even better stopping 35 shots in Saturday night’s shutout of the Coyotes. He was stopping breakaway chances and shutting down tic-tac-toe passing plays from Phil Kessel and Clayton Keller, and generally stepped up on a night when the Bruins weren’t really all that good against a young, hungry hockey team. This is all good news for the Black and Gold. If Rask stumbles a little early then Halak is there to step in and get the B’s through the early portion of the season again, and if not then Halak is going to again push Rask hard for playing time while making sure both are playing at high levels.

2)       The Bruins top line has thankfully knocked the rust off their game. They weren’t great on Saturday night either, but they were good enough to get the win against the Coyotes. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron teamed up with a first period goal late in the stanza after the entire team had struggled for most of the opening 20 minutes. It was vintage work by the B’s dynamic duo with Bergeron sliding a backhanded pass to Marchand in the face-off circle for a short side snipe past Darcy Kuemper. That ended up being the difference in the game, but it was also a byproduct of the top trio being much more in sync with 15 shot attempts from the three explosive forwards. They were generating offense and chances, and that’s exactly where they need to be for the B’s to enjoy sustained success. Saturday night was evidence it isn’t going to take very long for them to get back to their usual dominant level.

3)      It’s early in the season, but it sure looks like Charlie McAvoy is going to be the workhorse for the Bruins. He’s led the B’s in ice time in each of his first two games and is averaging 22:18 of ice time while playing in all situations and kicking in a little bit of offense thus far. Interestingly enough 42-year-old Zdeno Chara has also been under 20 minutes of ice time in each of the first two games even as others like Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo also topped 20 minutes in Saturday night’s win over the Coyotes. Many have screamed and cried about “load management” for aging players like Chara and Patrice Bergeron to preserve them for the long haul, including getting them at their peak in the playoffs. Whelp, it looks like the B’s are doing just that a few games into the regular season.

PLUS

*Brad Marchand had the game’s only goal, six shot attempts and was much better on Saturday than he was in Thursday night’s opener in Dallas.

*Jaroslav Halak stopped 35 shots, collected a shutout and was even better in his regular season debut than Tuukka Rask was on opening night. It’s such a good sign for the season that both B’s goalies are off to strong beginnings.

*David Krejci played nearly 16 minutes of ice time and looked solid after missing the opening night game with a lower body injury. He wasn’t a big factor on the score sheet, but his healthy return was really the big development in this one.

MINUS

*One shot attempt, one hit and one takeaway along with a 2-for-6 performance in the face-off circle for Par Lindholm. People can talk all the livelong day about him doing the little things out on the ice, but you usually have to search for the little things when a guy isn’t doing much of anything impactful out on the ice. I’m not seeing much thus far to his game.

*I didn’t love the decision to scratch David Backes based on a pretty solid opening night from the 35-year-old, but I guess I somewhat understand from a perspective of keeping him fresh when he’s in the lineup. Somebody had to sit to make room for David Krejci, though, and I guess it came down to Backes.

*After being dominant on opening night, Charlie Coyle was a bit of a non-factor on Saturday night. If Coyle really wants to become an impact player for the Bruins then he needs to be more consistent with the game we saw against Dallas.

Five bold Bruins predictions for 2019-20 season>>>>>

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Talking Points: Patrice Bergeron the only bright spot in brutal Bruins loss

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Talking Points: Patrice Bergeron the only bright spot in brutal Bruins loss

GOLD STAR: Anthony Duclair toiled with the Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets after some solid initial success in the desert with a 20-goal season on his resume, but it feels like the 24-year-old is enjoying a second life with the Ottawa Senators.

Duclair finished with a pair of goals and three points against the Bruins on Monday night and was making things happen pretty much every time he was on the ice. Duclair finished with two goals, three points, a plus-3 rating, six shots on net and five giveaways in his 16-plus minutes of ice time. Duclair’s first goal of the night gave the Senators a 2-0 lead and essentially put the Bruins deep in the hole before he iced things at the very end with an empty netter.

BLACK EYE: Torey Krug finished a minus-3 with just a single shot on net, and it could have been even worse if he hadn’t jumped off the ice just before Ottawa scored the first goal of the game in the first period. As it was, Krug had five shot attempts that were either blocked or missed their target and didn’t have enough offensively to help push along the Bruins power play when they really needed to do their damage.

Later on in the game Krug had some defensive issues as well and was among a number of Bruins players that finished with some pretty rough plus/minus numbers including Jake DeBrusk (minus-4), David Krejci (minus-3) and Brett Ritchie (minus-2).

TURNING POINT: The Bruins got a goal from Patrice Bergeron toward the end of the first period to halve Ottawa’s lead and went into the first intermission with a decent chance at winning the game. But then the Bruins came out and gave up a goal in the first two minutes of the second period and essentially let things slip through their fingers at that point. It was a botched play from Tuukka Rask, who attempted to play a puck behind the Boston net and just threw the puck to Vladislav Namestnikov, who set up Chris Tierney for the eventual game-winning goal.

It typified the gift goals that the Bruins gave them on the evening and made it clear it wasn’t going to be their night.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron missed the previous seven games with a lower-body injury and returned to be one of the best players on the ice for either team. Certainly, he was the best player on the ice for the Bruins after scoring a first period goal that got the Bruins in the game.

Bergeron finished with six shots on net, 10 shot attempts and 16-of-25 face-off wins to go along with a blocked shot in 21:43 of ice time. It would appear that Bergeron didn’t have any ill effects from the injury and was fully ready to take on a regular, intense workload after coming back from the injury. The only good news of the night was how good Bergeron looked in his return from injury.

BY THE NUMBERS: 38 – the number of saves for Anders Nilsson, who was a massive factor for the Senators shutting down the Boston power play when it really mattered and holding the Bruins to just two goals on 40 shots.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He’s a true hero...he inspired us all with everything he did...we're going to miss him dearly." –Torey Krug to reporters on the passing of Bruins fan and ALS awareness advocate Pete Frates, who courageously inspired so many during his fight with ALS before succumbing to it this week.

HAGGERTY: Is complacency the only thing that can derail Bruins?>>>

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NHL Highlights: Bruins suffer second straight regulation loss vs. lowly Senators

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NHL Highlights: Bruins suffer second straight regulation loss vs. lowly Senators

FINAL SCORE: Senators 5, Bruins 2

IN BRIEF: The Bruins put forth a subpar effort against the Senators, sleepwalking through most of the game en route to a second straight loss. The silver lining for the team was that Patrice Bergeron scored in his first game back after missing seven straight games with an injury.

BOX SCORE

BRUINS RECORD: 20-5-6 (46 points)

HIGHLIGHTS

ANISIMOV OPENS THE OTTAWA SCORING QUICKLY

B'S ALLOW EASY GOAL TO ANTHONY DUCLAIR

BERGERON CUTS THE LEAD IN HALF OFF FEED FROM PASTRNAK

BRUINS ALLOW ANOTHER MIND-BOGGLING GOAL

PAGEAU'S EMPTY-NET GOAL PUTS THINGS SEEMINGLY OUT OF REACH

JAKE DEBRUSK'S LATE GOAL

UP NEXT:
@ Washington Capitals, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network

HAGGERTY: Is complacency the only thing that can derail Bruins?>>>

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