So! After months without hockey, how did Boston start their Return To Play?
Boone Jenner opened the scoring for the @BlueJacketsNHL in exhibition action.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 30, 2020
Jenner (27 GP) is one of five players to share the franchise lead in playoff appearances. https://t.co/iLnq4bTefX #NHLStats #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/odVmX0Th46
Gustav Nyquist makes it 3-0 Columbus. pic.twitter.com/CzRYvfJYAe— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) July 30, 2020
It really cannot be overstated just how bad Boston played in their first period. Pucks kept bouncing through them, the defense looked completely lost, the offense couldn’t connect a pass, it was just brutal.
Things mercifully ended after 20 minutes, with a 3-0 score for the Jackets.
Things were looking pretty dour. For all the positives of the team tightening up, the B’s struggled mightily to put some zone time together. Who could get the B’s on the board? Who could possibly get the Bruins going?
...Who do you think? David Pastrnak got a miracle bounce, and he did David Pastrnak things to get the B’s on the board! 3-1 Jackets.
Regrettably, that’d be the only scoring of the period, as Boston’s struggles continued on, and ultimately would doom their game.
Boston definitely looked better. I will give them that. But eventually you do have to try and get on the board again. They couldn’t do that, and as a result, Boston gave up the final tally of the night to Alex Texier, who put the dagger in an empty net on a bad change. 4-1 Jackets.
Not a great start, but thankfully nothing to worry about...for now.
- Okay so first things first...this was an exhibition game. It does not count towards anything, and ultimately only shows that the team had not seen a live target in months. It’s disappointing that they came out as bad as they did, but it ultimately doesn’t really matter. The first time this actually starts to matter is on Sunday afternoon.
- That said, jesus christ do some players on this team sure need to be at more practices or doing drills in their stickhandling and passing, optional or otherwise. The B’s first period was a masterclass in preseason level bad decision making, skating, and poor defense. Marchand was all over the place, Sean Kuraly was directly responsible for a goal, and the defense had maybe a pair of standouts that were mitigated by some very small brain execution mistakes.
- Jack Studnicka had a pretty solid game! He led the team in xGF%, and while he obviously had some “I am creative and this will work!” moments that didn’t quite pan out, he definitely looks like he belongs. Be excited for this young man! He’s gonna be a big part of this team going forward.
- There were whole shifts of this game where David Pastrnak effectively ran shifts on his own, especially notable since nearly everybody else was notably off in periods 2 and 3.
- Jaroslav Halak did fine in relief of Rask. Rask didn’t have the best start to his exhibition game, but the high-danger chances Boston were letting up was nothing short of unconscionable. Cassidy said he’s still going with Rask for the Flyers, and also that the first period was just a bad performance in front of him. Here’s hoping he’s right.
- If Sean Kuraly ever plays on the third line over these playoffs after the nightmare day he had, it will be too soon. He picked his play later, but here’s the thing: You have to play all 60 minutes well, not 20 minutes like butt then 40 minutes of makeup work.
- Brad Marchand punctuated his very not-good night with having to leave due to injury. Cassidy didn’t think it was serious, but we’ll find out later.
Boston’s round robin dreams begin on Sunday, against Philadelphia. That game begins at 3pm EST.
We’ll see you there, when it counts!