Photo credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
By: Thomas Nystrom Follow Me On Twitter @nahstrom
Saturday night we saw a much different Bruins team take the ice. Not in terms of personnel, but certainly in the way of effort and execution. Boston looked disjointed in every aspect of the game. The stick handling left much to be desired, the passing was lazy, and the shots didn’t find their mark with any level of consistency in comparison to what we’ve seen over the better part of the last two months. Tuukka Rask had a few misreads and blown saves, although the highlights will also show that he kept them in this game until the very end with a handful of unbelievable stops. Unfortunately his effort wasn’t enough to continue his outstanding point streak which ends at 21 games.
This game appears to be less about Rask’s off night and more about the overall lack of compete from a Boston squad fresh off a few days rest after an absolutely commanding road performance in their 6-1 victory over the New York Rangers.
The flip side of this article is undoubtedly being written in Buffalo as we speak, but here, the great things that the Sabres did tonight shouldn’t go without praise. The Buffalo Sabres entered TD Garden with purpose despite having very little to play for at this stage of their mostly disappointing 2017-2018 campaign. They were strong on the forecheck, broke up a number of high-probability scoring chances, and backup Goaltender Chad Johnson put together an outstanding if not unexpected 60 minute effort in net. Ryan O’Reilly centered a Buffalo line that tonight played Bergeron/Marchand/Pastrnak with intensity and fearlessness arguably more-so than any other offensive pairing since November. Mind you, Buffalo’s best weapon and Massachusetts’ own Jack Eichel was knocked out of the game with under 7 minutes left in the first on an ugly looking collision where he came down awkwardly with his leg pinned beneath him.
Positive spin: I would like to state for the record that in no way do I believe the Sabres just laid out the blueprint for how to contain the monster that has been the Boston Bruins over the better part of the season. This was a ‘trap game’ if there ever was one. The seemingly easier contest of the back to back this weekend didn’t go as planned, but in many ways was half-heartedly forecasted. The ‘trap’ is not a myth folks and tonight was exhibit A.
The Boston Bruins travel to Newark, New Jersey tomorrow to take on the (27-19-8) Devils, whom are coming off their own 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Columbus on Sunday. I foresee a physical, perhaps desperate level of effort from both teams looking to quickly right the ship. Face off at 7:00pm. See you then.
Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom