A last-minute announcement that Brad Marchand wouldn’t be participating in this tilt was a bit of a surprise; not sure what upper-body injury he might’ve been nursing, but it stemmed from yesterday’s collision with Anthony DuClair. As the B’s have no extra forwards in Boston, they were forced to dress seven defensemen, while David Pastrnak racked up nearly 22 minutes of ice time extra-shifting. Rick Nash was spotted on Riley Nash’s left, and Brian Gionta sliding up the depth chart to join the “second line” at times.
The first ten minutes gave a powerplay goal from Blackhawks forward Artem Anisimov while Tim Schaller sat in the penalty box - one of two penalties to the Bruins in the first ten minutes, and three overall in the period. Fortunately, the Hawks’ haplessness with the man advantage kept things from getting out of hand. “Early on it was tough,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy. “It was basically a penalty-kill practice for the first half of the period.”
When he’s playing a solid game, Sean Kuraly’s forecheck is tenacious. He has the nose for contact like Acciari, yet has one extra gear that gets him there a bit more quickly. It showed clearly in the second when he and his linemates were able to pin Chicago behind their own net on multiple shifts. The versatility on that line - especially when Acciari’s center experience shines as the third forward while Kuraly charges - wore heavily on Chicago’s defense and gave the Hawks’ top two lines fits. Unfortunately, while the bottom unit was clicking again, four of the top six were below 50% in Corsi while all having most of their starts in the offensive zone. The two players who were above 50% were Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, yet they had the most favorable O-zone starts of the six.
This adds up to a poor game - which, if you watched the second period and start of the third more closely, seemed like futility would only have been the first 20 minutes. there was an obvious uptick in Bruins activity - they took the lead in shots shot attempts, controlling play until the midpoint of the third, and just as Chicago was beginning their end-of-game push (and holding the 1-0 lead), Zdeno Chara netted a wrist shot from the high slot. The rest is history - Chara’s double-minor penalty late in the third allowed Chicago to take the lead and add to it just after the advantage was spent, sealing the Bruins’ fate in what was a very winnable game for Boston.
Anton Khudobin gave another Tim Thomas-esque performance; he was tested early and often, especially at the onset of each period. He made major saves on Patrick Kane, and was their best penalty-killer. Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg didn’t have to be better, because (as outlined above) the Bruins’ offense wasn’t energized early and late, when it counted.
Now on their week-long road trip, Boston gets a forward back in David Backes (from his 3-game suspension), and we’ll have to hope that Brad’s injury isn’t too serious. Patrice Bergeron should also be re-evaluated soon, provided the original timeline for his foot fracture holds up.
For a team missing some key pieces, the Bruins have held their own just fine. Today’s tilt should be just a bump in the road of what was otherwise a solid six-game win streak.