David Krejci

Talking Points: David Krejci shines, Brad Marchand struggles as Bruins blow three-goal lead

Talking Points: David Krejci shines, Brad Marchand struggles as Bruins blow three-goal lead

GOLD STAR: Travis Sanheim isn’t the biggest name among the Flyers defenseman corps, but he played a big role in the comeback win for Philly. Sanheim scored the game-tying goal in the third period after a scramble in front of the net where the Bruins had some very serious breakdowns all around Jaroslav Halak in the cage.

Sanheim finished with two goals and a plus-1 rating in 25:32 of ice time along with five shots on net, seven shot attempts and a blocked shot in 30 shifts in the game. He was the poster boy for Philly’s second effort comeback while scrapping around the net and stepping up the compete level once the Bruins hit it in cruise control up 5-2 in the second period.

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BLACK EYE: Brad Marchand didn’t have a single shot on net in 19:44 of ice time, and had just two shot attempts while picking up an assist during the regulation portion of play. Then, Marchand did something I’ve never seen before when he essentially whiffed on his shootout attempt after Travis Konecny had scored and made it a do-or-die situation for the Bruins left winger.

It was quite literally the worst shootout attempt there has ever been in the NHL and ended up being a fitting end for a Bruins team that was essentially fanned on the shootout all season-long.

The Bruins dropped to 0-7 in shootouts after the way things ended in Philly and it might be time to start trying some different strategies and personnel in the shootout.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins went up 5-2 around the midway point of the second period and almost immediately after that point, they simply stopped playing winning hockey. The defense got really soft, the goaltending was suspect for most of the night and it started catching up to them as they weren’t able to put anything else past Carter Hart.

They were outshot by a 15-6 margin over the course of that middle 20 minutes and it felt that way on the ice even though the Bruins scored a pair of goals early on to put a five-spot on the board. The Bruins still had chances to pull things out after that point, but the second period swoon stands as the exact point where things got away from the Black and Gold.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci was part of an excellent night for the B’s second line where they produced goals, provided secondary offense and gave the Bruins enough offense where they should have won the game.

Krejci finished with a pair of goals where one of them was him cashing in a chance while crashing at the net on a Danton Heinen cross-ice pass, and the other was some great chemistry with Anders Bjork, who found Krejci wide open at the back-side of the net.

Krejci finished with the two goals, four shots on net, seven shot attempts, a hit and 12-of-17 face-off wins in a complete effort centering Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-7 – the Bruins continue to fumble away their shootout chances and once again, they didn’t score a single goal in the shootout session while Jaroslav Halak was making some pretty strong shootout saves at the other end of the ice.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We had no will to keep the puck out of our net on the last three goals. That’s been a staple of our team for years. Let’s hope it’s just a one-off because it was unprofessional the way we performed in front of the net for the last three goals. We have to be better.” –Bruce Cassidy, on NESN postgame when asked about the defense around the net from his Bruins.

Bruins 'need to see more attack' from David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk

AP Photo

Bruins 'need to see more attack' from David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk

BOSTON — The Bruins have most definitely hit a rut in their regular season schedule with just four wins in their last 15 games.

The B’s have put together a 4-5-6 record over the last month with a slew of overtime and shootout losses, but they tossed down an absolute stinker on Saturday afternoon with their 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden.

The Bruins are 10th in the league in offense this season averaging 3.31 goals per game, but they have averaged just 2.6 goals per game (39 goals in 15 games, which is helped by a seven -goal outburst against a disinterested Washington team headed into the Christmas break) over the last month while hitting the skids.

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“I think right now we know the goals aren’t coming easily, so you know it’s gonna be, every goal matters. So, I think that’s in everybody’s head. It’s just the stretch we’re in right now,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy. “You go through the opposite where nothing seems to faze you, and we went through that and came back every night it seemed in this building for a stretch. Right now, we’ve got to find a balance where we get the lead and play the right way, protect the lead. I think that’s how we play our best hockey.”

In Saturday afternoon’s loss to the Oilers, the Bruins managed to score on a power play just a few minutes into the game with David Pastrnak’s 31st of the season, but that was it for a Boston team struggling to generate secondary offense and even strength goals.

Bruce Cassidy said the offensive slowdown is “in their heads” while embroiled in so many one-goal games as of late, and in particular he had some pointed words for the second-line pair of Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci.

DeBrusk was benched midway through Saturday’s game for the second time in a week when he coughed up a puck that led to Edmonton’s first goal, and eventually he was replaced by Anders Bjork on Krejci’s left side as things went along.

It might be that Cassidy is beginning to warm to the idea of trying somebody else as a long term left wing for Krejci, because DeBrusk has become a pretty one-dimensional player, only contributing goal-scoring, but not much else when he isn’t lighting the lamp.

“I don’t know. I’d say everything but I don’t know if that’s fair,” said Cassidy, when asked what’s gone awry with the chemistry between DeBrusk and Krejci. “Right now, they just haven’t connected for whatever reason. I don’t want to put it on one individual or the other. As a line they’re not [clicking]. Jake’s been in the league for 180-some-odd games? He should be able to look after himself too at this point on a nightly basis, and they should be feeding off of one another. We need to see a little bit more attack out of them.

“I just think they’ve been too quiet for how good they are. And I don’t have a great answer for what the reason is, it might just be a stretch of the season we look back and say, ‘Hey, we’re off.’ Or it might be something a little more. We pulled them apart today, we’ll see how it looks going forward.”

Over the 15-game stretch, Krejci has just two goals and seven points with a minus-4 rating and DeBrusk has five goals, eight points and a minus-8 that really stands out as problematic given some of the goals against he’s been on the ice for.  

To be fair, nobody has really been lighting the lamp on the second or third line lately for the Bruins, and that includes Bjork, Charlie Coyle, Danton Heinen and anybody else they have been rotating into a top-9 role with the B’s.

But given that DeBrusk has now been shown the bench in-game twice during the last week, the Bruins' coaching staff is not seeing enough out of him on a regular basis.

“[DeBrusk’s] biggest asset is his foot speed, so he has to use that. [He needs to] be a little bit more tenacious on pucks and create some of his own shots, to take a basketball term. [He] doesn’t always need Krech [David Krejci] to get him the puck; go chase one down or win a foot race. We chipped a lot of pucks today, the puck was bouncing all over. [It] would have been a good night for [him to] find his own shot one-on-one.

“Edmonton had a couple of guys do that, beat us a couple times one-on-one. You have to try that a little bit of that stuff, be harder on it. I think that’s how Anders [Bjork] has turned the corner a little bit, that’s what Marchy [Brad Marchand] does, Pasta [David Pastrnak]. Little bit is on Jake to initiate, have some second effort on pucks and some will on it to create some offense.”

Cassidy left it very much wide open how much he’s going to tinker with the forward lines moving forward, but it seems pretty clear there are changes coming.

There’s only so much the B’s head coach can do unless they get an infusion of top-6 goal-scoring from somewhere given how little they are getting right now from a healthy selection of their forward group.

But it sure sounds like Cassidy might be looking to separate DeBrusk and Krejci moving forward after another fruitless game in a stretch where the Bruins need to squeeze more goals out of their roster.  

Bruins admit OT losses 'getting in their heads' and it shows

Bruins admit OT losses 'getting in their heads' and it shows

BOSTON – On the one hand, the Bruins aren’t going to have to worry about 3-on-3 overtime and the dreaded shootout when they get to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

On the other hand, the extra-session losses are piling up for the B's' and they dropped another one on Thursday night in a 2-1 OT loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden. It was Boston’s NHL-leading 11th overtime/shootout loss of the season. They're 2-11 when they go beyond regulation. 

It was a decent 60 minutes of hockey from the Bruins and they were poised to win 1-0 until a Sonny Milano bad-angle shot in the third period bounced off Matt Grzelcyk’s skate and then right on past Tuukka Rask to tie things up. Still, it was another lost point to an Eastern Conference also-ran for the Bruins in a season where they have fumbled away way too many points against teams they should be beating.

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But that’s a different story for a different day. The main point of the Thursday night loss was another OT setback that now sees them at 2-5 in 3-on-3 overtime and a horrifying 0-6 in shootouts. They are now just seven OT/shootout losses away from tying the all-time NHL record for futility with another 40 games left in the regular season.

It’s getting to the point now where even the NHL’s leading scorer admits the Bruins are getting in their own heads once they get to overtime.

“It’s frustrating obviously. There’s been plenty of them this year,” said David Pastrnak after scoring his NHL-leading 30th goal of the season in the second period. “It’s probably getting in our heads that we want to win one and we’re obviously missing a little confidence there.”

In this particular instance, it was on Pastrnak, David Krejci and Charlie McAvoy, who all stayed on the ice way too long on the opening shift of overtime. It nearly netted them a goal when Pastrnak narrowly missed on a give-and-go play with Krejci, but once they missed that chance they were too gassed to get back up the ice and stop the Blue Jackets from converting on a 2-on-1 once Seth Jones was able to get the puck out of the Columbus defensive zone and past the flailing reaches of Krejci and Pastrnak.

Pierre-Luc Dubois finished the 2-on-1 with a heavy, top-corner one-timer blast to past Rask and the Bruins have watched their lead in the Atlantic Division drop to eight points over the Maple Leafs, who are 14-4-1 since they fired Mike Babcock. The Bruins are going to be tough to catch as long as they keep picking up “loser points” in these OT/shootout losses, but it’s also not exactly a quality brand of hockey they’ve been playing for more than a month.

“I’m sure no one’s pleased. It’s another lead going into the third period we weren’t able to close out. That’s as frustrating as anything. You give up a goal, you push to try to get another one. I thought, again, [we had] some opportunities around their net. They did a good job blocking shots. We hit a good one right off the post,” said Bruce Cassidy. “As for the overtime, some of it is we’ve got to smarten up. [You] can’t get caught diving down low, that’s happened more than once this year.

“On those puck battles away from your net, if you don’t make a play at their end, you’ve got to make sure you put yourself in a better spot defensively to defend the rush or get off the ice. That’s cost us a few times, so at some point, you’ve got to learn from those mistakes as well.”

Part of the mental issue that Pastrnak mentioned concerning OT was the pressure to win in an OT session with the knowledge that it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen in a shootout. That pushes Pastrnak and Krejci to try and force plays that aren’t there, stay out on the ice for a shift longer than they should and get out of the smart, responsible game that makes them so successful most of the time.

It’s something Torey Krug alluded to after a loss in which he never got a chance to get over the boards and try and help the B’s get an OT win.

“Just be smarter and hang onto the puck. It seems like other teams are doing that to us where they hang onto the puck longer and get the changes at the appropriate times,” said Krug. “I’m not just speaking about tonight, but in games past, I feel like we can out-change the other team and be respectful of our changes, and then see what happens. We had some pretty decent chances tonight. Pasta had a good chance, but just couldn’t come up with it. That’s what happens.”

Whatever the case, it needs to get fixed for the Bruins as the two-point wins are the only way the B’s are going to get back rolling rather than dwell in the fits and starts of the past month as “loser point” losses pile up.