The Bruins are now two games into their season and there has been some good and some bad. They got a real nice come from behind win against Columbus, only to follow it up by stumbling against Toronto. They also have an influx of new young players on their roster trying to get their bearings while playing some key roles on this team. With so many young players in the lineup you have to take the good with the bad.
So here are BostonPucks.com’s thoughts on the first week of the season:
David Krejci And Ryan Spooner Have Started Out Slow
Last season David Krejci started out on fire. In ten October games Krejci had 7 goals, and 8 assists for 15 points. At one point during October Krejci was actually the leading scorer in the NHL.
So far this season after two games Krejci has not looked good. He seems to be moving fine after having off season hip surgery, but his puck management has not been what we’re used to seeing. Puck management is usually the area Krejci excels in. It also seems like his normally world class passing is just a bit off and he is turning over the puck by forcing things too much.
Ryan Spooner is in the same boat. He had a really good preseason but that momentum has not carried over to the regular season. Maybe it will take some time to adjust to playing on the left wing, at least until Frank Vatrano returns to action around Christmas.
You also have to consider that Krejci is once again starting a season with new linemates. That will take some time getting used to. The line with Spooner, Krejci, and Backes looked to be a good fit in the preseason, but the Bergeron injury has thrust Backes into centering the top line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak instead. Regardless of who is on Krejci’s line they need to produce sooner rather than later to give the Bruins the scoring depth they rely on. Krejci, or Spooner, will need to step up if the Bruins want to beat a good (on paper) Jets team tonight.
From Game 1 to Game 2 Carlo Got Better
The Bruins defensive outlook is going to look much better if Brandon Carlo can continue to get better. He played really well against Toronto. His play was one of the few positives to come out of that B’s 4-1 loss.
Carlo had good gap control all night considering the young speed of Toronto and he was playing physical in his own end. It was also nice seeing him jumping up into the play offensively. At one point Saturday night he even got into it with Matt Martin before Zdeno Chara came over and stepped in. Chara and Martin eventually dropped the gloves later in the game.
But so far Carlo has shown no fear or hesitation on the ice with his decision making. As a 19-year-old this is impressive. If he can turn into the top-4 right shot defenseman that it looks like he’s on pace to becoming it would be huge for the Bruins. There’s nothing like a defensive rookie gem on a cheap entry level contract to build off of.
The First Power Play Unit is Struggling
Really you can tie in the first thought on David Krejci and Ryan Spooner to this one as well. Certainly their power play unit will get better when Patrice Bergeron returns and Austin Czarnik isn’t out there as much, but in the first two games they did not generate many scoring chances on the man advantage. Against Toronto the B’s had an unsuccessful power play in the first period that really could have made up for their slow start that put them down 1-0 early.
The second power play unit consists of maybe the Bruins’ best offensive players, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, so maybe it’s no coincidence that unit is performing better than the first right now. Overall, after 2 games the power play is operating at about 16.5% (1 for 6). I really would like to see the second unit get more opportunity. The first unit is out there for usually more than half of the power play, and yet once again the top sniping guns the Bruins have aren’t out there nearly enough. It’d be like Capitals only giving Ovechkin thirty seconds with the man advantage.
You are not going to score on every power play, but you certainly can change the tide of the game with a timely momentum swinging goal. And a large part of the Bruins offensive success last year was because of their 5-on-4 play. A good power play could help alleviate any deficiency this team may have moving forward by scoring a few extra goals.
David Pastrnak Is On Pace For 123 Goals
Like Brandon Carlo, David Pastrnak was one of the positive points in the Toronto game. Pastrnak scored two goals on opening night in Columbus to go along with his 2 assists. Then in Toronto Pastrnak scored a beautiful power play goal:
The Leafs did a good job not allowing Brad Marchand much room but it didn’t seem to phase Pastrnak all that much. He even had a couple more point blank opportunities like this one:
The Marchand, Backes, and Pastrnak line has started out of the gate fast. Most people felt Pastrnak would find his success on a line with his fellow countryman David Krejci. That might happen at some point this season, but for now it looks like it was a great decision by the coaching staff to put Pastrnak and Marchand together. It will be fun to see what they can do when All-World Patrice Bergeron returns.
Giving Up Early Goals Can Stop
The season is just 120 minutes old but the Bruins have only played with the lead for 10:06 of it and have only been tied with their opponent for 12:44. That means they’ve played nearly 100 out of the 120 minutes of this season trailing on the scoreboard. Three minutes into the season opener Columbus’ Alex Wennberg put them down 1-0 on the very first shot of the game. Two minutes into the Toronto game they were down 1-0 on a Connor Brown shot. This has to stop.
I’m not saying the first goal of a game is a death sentence but it certainly can make for a headache when you spot the opposition a quick lead. Early on you’re just trying to get it going, trying to set the tone and establish your presence. Instead the B’s have handed the opposition free momentum and confidence, as evidenced in both games when the Bruins also went on to give up a second goal later in the first period as well.
The Bruins may have some weaknesses in their lineup but they’ve got to be ready to go right out of the gate rather than waste an opportunity to set the tone for the game.
Screening Your Own Goalie Doesn’t Help
There’s been a early trend in the first two games of getting in the way of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin’s ability to track the puck. Again, the season is in its infancy so things will be corrected along the way but half of the goals they’ve given up are on shots that are complicated by the fact that the goalie just can’t see the shot coming. Most often these situations are created by either not knowing where the puck is, or you’re trying to make up for a mistake by scrambling and end up doing more harm than good.
The Seth Jones goal against Columbus came right after Carlo, Chara, and Czarnik all had opportunities to clear the puck or at worst get it out to a safer area along the edge like the half wall. Instead it was pushed out to the point and all choas ensues:
As you can see Tuukka never had a chance. He couldn’t see the puck as the forwards, instead of getting low and big to block the shot, get tall and create a maze of legs like trees in the forest. That allows the puck through as the B’s do the screening for the Blue Jackets.
With the Connor Brown goal against Toronto the puck gets lost in the defenseman’s feet, Matt Beleskey loses Brown on the way to the loose puck, and Khudobin sinks deep in his crease as he tries to track it in front of him. The shot is released when the puck is hidden behind a skate. Not much of a chance there.
And lastly, James van Riemsdyk’s goal was similar to the Seth Jones goal. Czarnik tries to get there (late) to block the shot, while John-Michael Liles is left standing directly in front of Khudobin, actually facing him, both creating a perfect screen. Khudobin can’t see the shot coming:
Today’s players are all taught to face up the shooter and block shots rather than the old days of standing in front of the net cross checking a forward in the back. It’s a better and smarter way to defend. But when plays break down guys can get left in limbo, between blocking a shot and sort of doing nothing. We don’t need to jump off a bridge over these goals, but right now the B’s are not doing themselves any favors by being stuck in the middle and not allowing the goalie to see the puck.
Bruins have 3 games this week starting tonight in Winnipeg. Then Thursday night against the Devils for the home opener. On Saturday night the hated Montreal Canadiens invade the TD Garden.