The Bruins capped off a light week with just two games after a brutal workload the previous week. They spent an extended period of time in Denver after their victory over the Avalanche on Sunday, then lost a barn burner to the Minnesota Wild 1-0. Unfortunately the Bruins took a kick to groin by giving up the game winner to the Wild with under a minute to go in the game. It was a flukey bounce that went off the leg of the world’s most unlucky man, Adam McQuaid. On Saturday night the Bruins rebounded nicely by returning to the Garden and completely dominating the Winnipeg Jets.
Here are some BostonPucks.com thoughts on this weeks action:
Joe Morrow Just Might Be Establishing Himself
Joe Morrow drew into the lineup on Sunday against the Avalanche and played well enough to finally get into back-to-back games again. What’d he do with the opportunity? He played well enough to then get into the lineup three games in a row. That’s what we like to call consistency.
Morrow had been in the lineup for the home opener and the game after. To the eyes of this blogger he was clearly not playing well. He was making some careless mistakes and turning the puck over. I was not sure how it was going to end up for Morrow in Boston. As a fan, it sucked to see Morrow play this way because him and Jimmy Hayes are all that is left from the brutal Tyler Seguin trade. That alone is a motivator for Bruins fans to want him to succeed.
And thankfully, Joe Morrow has played well in his latest stint in the lineup. He is making smarter, quick outlet passes and his pinch down the wall resulted in the Matt Beleskey goal Saturday night. He made a smart, instinctive decision to pinch down the boards to keep the puck in the offensive zone and then found Matt Beleskey in the slot for the goal.
Right now Morrow is in the lineup for Colin Miller. Miller is more flashy, with some incredible skating, but the results have not been there. With Kevan Miller getting close to a return Joe Morrow is playing his best hockey of his NHL career. He might be grabbing a lineup spot right at the perfect time.
In the Minnesota game on Thursday night the Bruins had goal called back due to an offsides. Regardless if it goes against the Bruins or not I am so sick of the offside review. For a league that is desperate for goal scoring they put in a rule that is taking away goals on a weekly basis. I get the NHL wants to get the calls right, but the game was held up for nearly five minutes while the linesmen looked at the review of David Backes dragging his skate.
Look, I truly believe when the league put in the coaches offside review they had in mind it’d be utilized for goals scored off of the rush. But going back 20, or 30 seconds of game time to see if a guys skate was on the ice is absurd. They need to change either the challenge rule all together or put a time limit on it. Say, if the goal was scored under 15 seconds after the offside play then you can challenge it, otherwise you move on.
Or maybe they need to change the offsides rule. The blue line is like the Bermuda Triangle. To get it in the zone the puck has to be fully over the blue line. But to keep it in the zone the puck can be on the blue line. Pick one for both sides and go with it. I would propose either making the blue line either an inch or two thinner and once the puck is fully on the blue line, out of the neutral zone, then the offensive team is onside. It’s just getting ridiculous that we’re watching frame by frame replays of offsides and half the time you still can’t get a conclusive review.
Consistency Has Been A Nice Change
Over the past two seasons the biggest frustration that came from watching the Bruins was a lack of consistency. One night they’d beat Chicago or St. Louis, the next night they’d lose 1-0 to New Jersey or Carolina. You certainly can’t win them all, as they say, but the manner in which the B’s would lose would often be uninspiring and extremely frustrating. They were terribly inconsistent. Joonas Kemppainen, Zac Rinaldo, Brett Connolly, Jordan Caron, Matt Fraser, Zach Trotman, Tyler Randell and more, floated through the lineup and never stuck, let alone provided a meaningful and consistent return.
Now Noel Acciari, Austin Czarnik, Dominic Moore, Brandon Carlo, Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, and even Sean Kuraly in a brief showing so far, have brought consistency. Outside of Brandon Carlo none of the former or current Bruins that I listed are seen as studs in the NHL, but the current cast of performers have been dependable and have taken to Claude’s staunch defensive system much quicker than I could have imagined. Although injured right now, Noel Acciari showed quickly last season that he could do it. Austin Czarnik’s speed, smarts and grit are causing other teams problems. Dominic Moore has been the fantastic off-season find of the summer for Don Sweeney. And Schaller, Nash, and Kuraly are all doing what’s needed to be done, and more.
They’re not Cup contenders like the Pittsburgh Penguins last year, who turned a lost season into a magical one. Hell, I wouldn’t even classify the B’s as a top tier team in the Eastern Conference yet based off of such a small sample size so far this season. But the Penguins did plug in the right mix of NCAA college kids, some undrafted, with guys like Matt Cullen in the Dominic Moore role, to make for a quicker and dependable bottom six forward bunch for coach Mike Sullivan. You’re seeing Claude’s shutdown D style executed with better ingredients, which makes Tuukka’s job more manageable as well.
It’s just nice to turn on the game and see them being accountable, organized, and all pulling in the same direction. You’re not waiting for the meltdown. You’re not waiting for it to get ugly. You’re watching them play sound defensively and stick with it until the final buzzer. They’re forcing teams to beat them rather than handing out cupcakes. It’s a “Loui for Backes” kind of stylistic change. And at least to this point in the season I can’t begin to explain how refreshing that is after watching the past two years.
Bergeron Line Comes Alive
Last week in the Weekly Review we mentioned how the depth scoring had arrived at the perfect time since the Bergeron line was on a cold streak. Their cold streak continued into the Minnesota game where Bergeron (42%) also got dominated at the face off dot by Mikko Koivu (61%). Add in 6 games without a point for Bergy and it was getting extra chilly in his locker room stall.
But that top line for the B’s came up huge on Saturday. Marchand was a monster and by far the best player on the ice all night. He scored a slick partial break away goal, off a masterful head man pass from Chara, where he blasted through a poke check by Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey. Next, Bergeron scored a power play goal on a one-timer blast from inside the circle off a perfectly placed David Krejci feed. The top line needs to continue their scoring ways for the Bruins, and it should help once David Pastrnak returns from an upper body injury. The way the B’s are playing defense right now, if they can get all four lines producing this team could be dangerous moving forward.
What is coming up
The Bruins have another busy week with 4 games on tap. They play Tuesday night at home against St. Louis. Then they take on Ottawa on Thanksgiving night north of the border. On Friday night they turn right around to head back home and face the Calgary Flames. The week wraps up against the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday afternoon at the Garden as well.