Noel Acciari

Bruins analysis: What we learned in the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Wild

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Bruins analysis: What we learned in the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Wild

Here’s What We Learned in the Bruins 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night at the Xcel Energy Center.

1)      It was a pretty good debut for Zach Senyshyn. The 22-year-old certainly hasn’t lit it up in the AHL the past two seasons and he was the last position player from the first round of the 2015 Draft to make his debut at the NHL level, so there is some skepticism that goes along with his appearance for Boston. But Senyshyn showed good speed, a good feel for getting to spots where he could shoot the puck and he picked up an empty-net goal at the very end of the game to put the cherry on top of the NHL debut sundae. Senyshyn finished with four shots on net, seven shot attempts, a hit and the empty-net goal in 12:41 of ice time along with a plus-1 rating for the game, and has to feel motivated to really bring it next season and get a longer look at the NHL level. The Bruins could certainly use a 6-foot-3 winger with speed who can finish plays if Senyshyn can really amp up the consistency, the tenaciousness and the production from his first two AHL seasons. All that being said, he’s a long way from making anybody forget about Mat Barzal, Kyle Connor or Brock Boeser anytime soon.

2)      The Bruins' worst nightmares were almost realized when Kevan Miller took a tumble knee-first into the boards after battling with Jordan Greenway for a puck as the two big bodies went into the corner. Miller was gimpy when he finally got up after crashing into the boards, and he missed most of the second period before returning for a shift prior to the second intermission. Miller wasn’t seen in the third period, but Bruce Cassidy said following the game that the rugged defenseman was held out for precautionary purposes and may play on Saturday. Since Miller has basically missed half the season with an assortment of injuries, though, it might just be better for both Miller and the Bruins if he sits out the Saturday afternoon regular-season finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then again, Connor Clifton has shown that he’s a pretty good backup plan should Miller get dinged up during the postseason, and he was throwing hard hits and being tough to play against vs. the Wild again on Thursday night.

3)      Noel Acciari continues to live up to his words about his game being made for the playoffs. He’s played extremely well over the last few weeks, and once again tipped a puck away from the Minny defense to set up Joakim Nordstrom’s game-winning goal. It was a heads-up play after Matt Grzelcyk’s point shot had glanced off the post and then bounced off the end boards before popping to a 50/50 puck battle between Acciari and Anthony Bitetto. Acciari won that battle by poking the puck away to the wide open Nordstrom, and the rest was history with the B’s opening goal in a shutout win. Acciari finished with six shots on net, eight shot attempts and three hits in 14:59 of ice time, and was physical, productive and playing with the kind of energy that could be difference-making when it gets to the postseason. It will be a challenge regardless of who he’s playing with, and playing against, on the fourth line once the postseason begins, but Acciari is showing that he might just be up for the challenge. That’s very encouraging particularly with Sean Kuraly out to start the playoffs with his hand injury.

Plus

*Noel Acciari set up the game-winner with a heads-up play around the net, led the Bruins with six shots on net and played with equal parts energy and effectiveness in his 14:59 of ice time.

*Joakim Nordstrom doesn’t get a lot of credit for the season he’s had with the Bruins, but he seems to almost always score important goals for the B’s as he did with the game-winner against Minnesota.

*Zach Senyshyn scored an empty-net goal in his NHL debut and perhaps more importantly had an easy enough time getting his shot off and getting chances against the Wild. It’s an encouraging sign he may have something to give Boston next season.

Minus

*Ryan Donato had a couple of scoring chances and he had four shots on net for the Wild, but he also was a minus-2 against his former Bruins teammates and once again looked like he’s got some things to learn in the defensive zone.

*No shots on net, two giveaways and a minus-1 for Jason Zucker in a meaningless end-of-the-season game that the Wild forward was treating as such.

*No shots on net for Danton Heinen in 14:04 of ice time in a quiet game that needs to be a whole lot less quiet once the postseason gets going. There will be competition for his lineup spot if he can’t be a difference-maker. 

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Talking Points from Bruins' 4-1 loss to Panthers: Garden goodbye for Luongo?

Talking Points from Bruins' 4-1 loss to Panthers: Garden goodbye for Luongo?

GOLD STAR: It could have been Roberto Luongo’s final appearance at TD Garden given some of the whispers about an impending retirement for the Florida goaltender. If it was, then he went out on a high note. Luongo stopped 30 shots in a 4-1 win over a team that’s tormented him on the Garden ice many times in the past. He was at his best in the third period as the Bruins furiously tried to rally from a two-goal deficit after a rough start. Instead, Bobby Lou stopped all seven shots that he faced, including a couple of robbery jobs on Brad Marchand once Bruce Cassidy reassembled the Perfection Line with Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Luongo outplayed Tuukka Rask on Saturday afternoon and that’s one of the biggest reasons that Florida was victorious.

BLACK EYE: Rask, on the other hand, was not good on Saturday afternoon and didn’t look sharp in one of his final tuneups before the end of the regular season. He allowed three goals on 14 shots in the first two periods and really looked off his angle on a short-handed strike off the rush from Troy Brouwer in the second period. That goal allowed was a killer for a team that had already given up a pair goals in the first period and didn’t have Rask step up to make a big save when they really could have used one. Certainly, it’s tough to pin all three goals on Rask, but overall he was outplayed by Luongo in this one. Some of the things in Rask’s game this close to the playoffs have to be a concern for the Black and Gold.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins outshot the Panthers by a 16-8 margin in the first period, but still found themselves down by a two-goal deficit after the opening 20 minutes. That’s essentially where the game was lost for the Bruins as they controlled play in the opening 20 minutes, but turned a bad bounce, a defensive breakdown and a juicy rebound from Tuukka Rask into a 2-0 hole after the first period. Once they were down by a couple of goals, the soft shorthanded goal allowed by Rask in the second period was a killer that doused any chances of a comeback. The Bruins seemed to correct their slow starts as of late, but now they’ve had back-to-back lousy first periods against teams playing out the string in the Rangers and Panthers.

HONORABLE MENTION: There wasn’t much to write home about the Saturday matinee loss to the Panthers, but Bruins energy forward Noel Acciari was probably the best thing on the ice for the Black and Gold. Acciari won a one-on-one battle with McKenzie Weegar for position in front of the Florida net and shoveled home a goal for Boston’s only score. He was one of the few B’s players skating with some energy. Acciari finished with the goal in 13:31 of ice time, five shots on net and four hits to go along with the usual scrapping work ethic always provided by No. 55. They could have used a little more of that across the board on Saturday afternoon.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17 – the home point streaks for both Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand that were both snapped in the listless 4-1 loss.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I watched Blaine Lacher get it back in 94…It really means a lot to me.” –Bruins fourth-liner Chris Wagner going in the way-back machine to describe what it felt like to win the Bruins' 7th Player Award. 

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Highlights of the Bruins' 4-1 loss to the Panthers

Highlights of the Bruins' 4-1 loss to the Panthers

FINAL SCORE: Panthers 4, Bruins 1

IN BRIEF: The Bruins fell behind by two goals in the first period and never recovered as Troy Brouwer's short-handed goal in the second and Roberto Luongo's 30 saves led the already-eliminated-from-the-playoffs Florida Panthers to a 4-1 victory that ended Boston's 12-game home winning streak. BOX SCORE
 

BRUINS RECORD: 47-22-9, second in Atlantic, playoff spot clinched.

HIGHLIGHTS:

DADONOV BEATS RASK, 2-0 FLORIDA:

BROUWER'S SHORT-HANDED GOAL PUTS PANTHERS UP, 3-1:

LUONGO GLOVES CHARA BLAST:

FROM JOE HAGGERTY:

*Give credit where it’s due to Joakim Nordstrom and David Backes for somehow ending up a plus-1 in a game where the Bruins lost 4-1 and where most of the B's really didn’t look very good against a Panthers team playing out the string. Aside from them, Noel Acciari was the only other standout as the lone goal-scorer for the Black and Gold. Tuukka Rask wasn’t very good between the pipes, Boston’s best players were on the ice for goals against while not doing much offensively and the D-zone play was poor early in the game when Florida built up a 2-0 lead. Of particular concern to the Bruins should be the bad starts they’ve again gone out to in the past two games after it appeared that they had knocked that out of their game for a while.  

 *Connor Clifton flattened Frank Vatrano as the two players battled for possession of a puck in front of the Bruins bench and knocked the former B’s forward on his butt in the process. Clifton isn’t flashy or tremendously point-productive from an offensive standpoint, but I continue to be impressed by him when it comes to being hard-to-play-against. That is something that could come into play come playoff time when considering lineups for the B’s.

*Chris Wagner is a great choice for the Bruins 7th Player Award this season after it hadn't really gone to role player-types in the recent past. It’s much more in the spirit of the award, IMHO, than last season when it went to first-round pick and rookie D-man Charlie McAvoy. He had a very good season obviously, but the 7th Player had always been about rewarding unheralded types and Wagner has had an excellent season for the Black and Gold. Interestingly enough it was Wagner’s normal fourth-line partner, Noel Acciari, who shined for the Bruins on Saturday afternoon with a goal, five shot attempts and four hits through two periods.  

*Three goals allowed on 14 shots in two periods isn’t what the Bruins want to see out of Rask just a handful of games ahead of the playoffs. The first goal allowed wasn’t his fault as it bounced off a few players in front of the net on its way past him. The second goal allowed featured a couple of wide-open Panthers around the net. But Rask did give up a juicy rebound en route to the second goal allowed after an Aaron Ekblad blast right at him. The third goal was a Troy Brouwer short-handed blast off the rush where the B’s goaltender was clearly off his angle before getting beat inside the far post. 

UP NEXT:
At Red Wings, Sunday, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network
At Blue Jackets, Tuesday, 7 p.m., NESN

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