By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me @BruinsBreakdown
Hockey is back! In the Bruins’ first game of the season, they started off hot though they cooled as the game progressed and relied on the shootout to pick up their first win of the season. While the game was a bit sloppy at times, who cares, we had hockey! Let’s get into the game analysis and player grades.
Checkout our full game recap HERE
While the numbers aren’t the whole story they can give us a glimpse into the flow of the game and a starting point for a discussion on what went well, or not so much, in a given game.
The Bruins were dominant in the first period controlling the play at even strength. The Devils showed life in the second with an even split of the expected goals and generated some good scoring chances by utilizing their speed. The third was a more conservative period for both teams with fewer events. Overtime, not included on this table, was exciting. The Devils created better chances even if they didn’t have the puck on their sticks as much as their opponent. Fortunately, they could not seal the deal and the Bruins were able to take the bonus point in the shootout.
In this section, we give each player a grade for their play in this particular game. The grades are more art than science. The game scores below are one part of the equation giving us an objective measure to start with, though it doesn’t always tell you the true picture of an individual game. Hockey is a game of process and moments. Over the long haul, the process should win out but at a game-by-game level, moments matter. Both will be considered before assigning a grade to each player. Our expectations for each player will also be a factor.
Please feel free to agree or disagree in the comments or on Twitter but keep the name-calling to a minimum.
Tuukka Rask – Rask was excellent in this game. While he went stretches without action, especially early on, his overtime performance alone is worthy of a top grade with two big stops on Hughes and a rink length breakaway from Palmieri. He also made key saves late in the second and third period.
Brad Marchand (A) – Marchand’s line was not good at 5v5. On most nights Marchand would not earn an A for this effort. He did show some flashes of his skill at even strength, but he earns this grade due to his contribution to all the Bruins’ offense – scoring the first goal, having the primary assist on the second, and finishing the game with the shootout winner. He was also dangerous on the penalty kill.
Charlie Coyle (A) – Coyle was great on the top powerplay unit working the top of the zone with Grzelcyk and Krejci. He may have over passed a little but he was good. At 5v5 Coyle was less noticeable but did so many little things to allow his linemates to get up the ice and play offense. He was also solid on the penalty kill.
David Krejci (A) – Krejci was excellent. He moved well and moved intentionally. He showed off his playmaking on the first goal with a great pass to Marchand. He did a great job at 5v5 as well, facilitating play with his linemates. He was the Bruins’ best player in overtime, though he did give the puck away to Hughes late in the frame.
Nick Ritchie (A) – Nick Ritchie made Don Sweeney look good. He was excellent tonight. While he is a bit plodding in his movements, he got where he needed to go. He showed more of his skill than he did last season controlling the puck, creating chances for himself, and getting to dirty areas for second chance opportunities. He led the team in individual expected goals, and more importantly, scored!
Chris Wagner (A) – Wagner created several chances in this game all on his own. While he couldn’t close the deal, he was noticeable and was able to draw a penalty on one of his chances. He was also excellent on the penalty kill.
Anders Bjork (A) – Bjork looked like a player with something to prove. As usual he was on his horse, played hard in the defensive end, and transported the puck up ice. However he was better in this game at getting to dirty areas and moving the puck east to west.
Matt Grzelcyk (A) – Grzelcyk was very Krug-like out there which is exactly what is being asked of him. While he was overwhelmed a couple of times on the forecheck, he generally moved the puck up ice smoothly and with purpose. His defending was good alongside his new partner. He was excellent on the powerplay moving the puck well and showing he is not afraid to shoot the puck.
Kevan Miller (A) – Miller gets an A! He skated well, had some good 1v1s, and looked comfortable enough with the puck on his stick. He had the worst expected goals percentage of anyone on the team but he looked the part of an NHLer after career-threatening surgeries.
Jake Debrusk (B) – Debrusk started the game slowly but picked up as the game moved along. He skated and forechecked well and moved the puck well with his teammates. He didn’t create a lot of chances for himself which is something that needs to improve.
Ondrej Kase (B) – Kase moved well in this game and created some opportunities in the offensive zone for his linemates. He was sound defensively as well. Until he scores though, #BruinsTwitter will have mixed feelings on the Czech winger.
Jakub Zboril (B) – Zboril played well though not flashy. He was excellent on 1v1s and showed he is capable of making a good first pass and can stretch the ice. He did need more urgency on a couple of plays and while he was generally strong on his assignments, he got lost on a couple of occasions.
Trent Fredric (B) – After an impressive first period, Fredric cooled off as the game went along. He was good though moving his feet, getting in on the forecheck, and generating some offense. #BruinsTwitter is clamoring for him to stay in the lineup. His attempts to mix it up, including with P.K. Subban, likely further endeared him to the faithful.
Brandon Carlo (B) – Carlo will always be a hard player to grade as a low event night from him is a good thing. He did well on the penalty kill and made the plays he needed to. It was nice to see Carlo also trying to get a little more engaged on the offensive end.
Patrice Bergeron (C) – While Bergeron played his part on the powerplay, he struggled mightily at 5v5. His expected goals percentage highlighted his struggles. He did some little things well and was dominant in the faceoff circle but this was a rough game for him.
Sean Kuraly (C) – Kuraly was the least noticeable player on his line in this game and the only one with a negative game score. He also had the key mistake on the Devils’ first goal giving the puck away at the offensive blue line. He was fine on the penalty kill.
Charlie McAvoy (C) – McAvoy was engaged in this game. He played rover on many shifts and played physical. He was close to scoring on several occasions and stepped up well in the neutral zone. However this was not his best game. He mishandled the puck a few times uncharacteristically and took two avoidable penalties. He wasn’t necessarily bad but more is expected from the Bruins’ defensive ace.
Jeremy Lauzon (C) – Lauzon was not great in this game. In his defense, it was his first taste of heavy lifting in the NHL. But he was behind the play at times in the defensive zone, got beat with speed around the edge on a couple of occasions, and was impatient under pressure. Hopefully, he just needs some time to settle in.
Jack Studnicka (D) – Studnicka is a good player but this was not a good night. He was okay in some limited penalty killing time. He has the raw skill to play high in the lineup. However, tonight he struggled to make plays giving the puck up needlessly at times, and was outmuscled on others. He was responsible for many first-line rushes ending abruptly.
Moment of the night
There were a number of worthy candidates including Rask’s breakaway saves, Fredric trying to rattle Subban, or Lucic eating it in warmups (which had #BruinsTwitter buzzing). But tonight we will go with this. Patrice!!!!