Though the first period certainly could have come out worse, last night’s game showed early signs of fatigue. Add in the challenge of incorporating new faces into the lineup, and you’ve got a recipe for another loss. If you haven’t yet, feel free to browse the GIF highlights from last night’s game.
Rick Nash: The veteran winger came buzzing out of the gate, and managed to have an immediate impact by saving a goal in the first few minutes. With another game under their belt, the Krejci line played much more balanced - more like a unit, rather than trying to overfeed Nash in the slot as they did in his first game.
The Original ® Riley Nash: A great Patrice Bergeron impressionist, Sir Riley took over the shutdown/top-center role smoothly, once again. As coach Bruce Cassidy said postgame, The Original ® “has some of those same qualities that it takes to play with wingers who... well, i don’t want to say they like to take risks, but they do take risks - you need a backbone on that line.” Riley benefited from a great forecheck by Wingels at the end of the first, netting a goal to restore faith at the end of a poor first period.
Tommy Wingels and his First Six Hours in Boston : Wingels played great - moving his feet and playing hard all night. He did it all, playing mostly at wing plus a few bonus shifts at center. He had a few missed passes, but that could be expected for literally his first time on the ice with his new team. His tenacious forecheck created the Riley Nash goal; he also played off a net-front drive well enough to be in a space for the pass from DeBrusk to score his first goal as a Bruin could still go through. HE’S BEEN ON THE GROUND IN NEW ENGLAND FOR UNDER TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, PEOPLE.
Jake DeBrusk : The kid was oustanding, and all over scoring attempts. His intangibles have been told to us before, but they were on full display tonight, as evidenced by his two-assist night.
Tuukka Rask : Other than his early support from Rick, Tuuks has had light backup from the defense. Ninety seconds of 4v4 play early in the game looked more like a powerplay for the Hurricanes, given how many shots Tuukka faced. It hurts when your top PK forward is on the shelf. He fought the puck all game, but was still able to make some key saves.
Zdeno Chara seemed to bite on antagonism by the ‘Canes early on; he looked out of sorts for the first ten minutes while trying to separate people’s heads from their bodies. While he eventually settled in, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy were victims of other chirping bouts, and you could tell partway through the second that they had worn on the Bruins quite a bit.
The B’s did not do a great job of controlling Carolina’s zone exits, giving them somewhat free reign to pass into the neutral zone. What did improve over the course of the game was added pressure in the neutral zone by a backchecking forward, which reduced the Hurricanes’ scoring chances.
Marchand took shifts in Danton Heinen’s spot; the kid has been struggling a bit as of late. Still looked brilliant when the puck was on his stick but it was somewhat rare. Same deal with Brandon Carlo; his pairing with Torey Krug played the fewest even-strength minutes (though Torey racked up a few extra on the power play). Matt Grzelcyk’s play was also below 18 minutes total, though Carlo was more sheltered via offensive-zone faceoffs.
The B’s should be back on track. The weekend’s games were the first back-to-back losses since mid-November, and last night was a good test against a good team looking to reestablish ourselves. It’ll be a good test without Saint Patrice; at least it’s not late March!
With Bergeron’s absence, we could safely assume that the shuffle to move Riley up to first center was intentional and semi-permanent. Some tweaking in the bottom six might be necessary and/or fun. Expect Wingels to stick in the lineup for at least a few days.
NEXT GAME: Thursday, 7pm - Pittsburgh comes to Boston!