By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me @BruinsBreakdown
Hockey is a fickle sport. Despite controlling the run of play, and creating more offense than usual, the Bruins went down in overtime to a Capitals team that has yet to lose a game in regulation this season and currently leads the East division. Alex Ovechkin did an Ovi-like thing to steal the extra point away from Boston who deserves credit for their strong 60 minutes of play and clawing their way back from a three-goal deficit.
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 not shy about firing the puck at the net attempting 65 shots at 5v5 and 87 in all situations. 43 shots in total hit the red frame. In the first period, Boston was just dominant. The game leveled out a little over the next two periods but the visitors still earned the better share of the offense. The key numbers in this loss are the 1.57 expected goals for the Caps, 1.85 including special teams and the extra frame, but four actual goals. Washington exceeded expectations despite a great effort by the Bs. Highlighting this is the Moneypuck Winometer below.
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.
Charlie McAvoy (A) – This was the breakout game for McAvoy Bruins’ fans have been waiting for this season. He was solid all over the ice. He made lots of little plays to advance the puck, was smart and effective in the neutral zone, and picked his spots in the offensive zone. His effort to keep the play alive and follow the puck to the net with the goalie pulled earned his team a point. If McAvoy can play like this consistently it will catapult him into the conversation for best defenseman.
Brad Marchand (A) – This was one of Marchand’s best games of the season, if not the best. He was a zone entry machine regularly entering the offensive zone with possession throughout the contest leading to chances off the rush or extended time in the zone. His goal demonstrated both his smarts and skill in finding the little bit of open space, catching the pass, changing the angle of his stick just enough, and finishing the play in one fluid motion.
Patrice Bergeron (A) – The captain was on his game tonight. He factored in on every Bruins goal registering an assist on each. Where Bergeron is most impressive though, and where he has been more noticeable the last couple of games, is all the little things he does. He made several plays as the third forward on the forecheck to gain possession and keep his team playing offense. In the second period, he had a great takeaway in the defensive zone which led to offense in transition. He also had several good shooting opportunities though he was unable to convert. The one time Bergeron was less than perfect was on a bad bounce and slightly lackadaisical effort at his own blue line on Washington’s first goal.
David Krejci (A) – First of all, I love Krejci running the point on a five-forward powerplay unit, more of that, please. DK46 was good on the powerplay but where I was really impressed with him tonight was how much offense he generated for himself attempting seven shots and hitting the net six times. the veteran pivot is usually more facilitator than generator but it was nice to see the latter from him in this contest. He, as usual, played very well on the defensive side of the puck.
Nick Ritchie (A) – Ritchboi tallied another powerplay goal. The maligned trade deadline acquisition is making the coaching staff look good for showing faith in him and parking him in front on PP1. At even strength, he didn’t have as much of his own offense but his playmaking was good. He had several zone entries with possession where he stopped up and moved the puck to a teammate in a shooting position and won battles in the offensive zone before getting the puck from low to high.
Chris Wagner (A) – Despite playing the fewest minutes on the team, Wagner finished third in individual expected goals. He has been finding ways to create offense of late whether it be off the rush or lingering in the slot with tonight’s opportunities favoring the former. He has been driving play for himself and his linemates doing so tonight with a strong forecheck in addition to his transition play.
Brandon Carlo (A) – Carlo had one atrocious shift early in the third where he gave the puck away twice and otherwise chased the play. Beyond that, he was excellent tonight. He closed well in the neutral zone and clogged lanes in the defensive zone closing well on Ovechkin on a couple of occasions. He has shown growth this season in his offensive game joining the rush several times and being more willing to fire the puck on the net, attempting three shots this game.
David Pastrnak (B) – Pasta’s presence makes Bruins’ games more fun! He is so dynamic on the ice whether it be his puck handling on the counter attack, playmaking, and of course his ability to shoot. The Czech winger flashed a little bit of all his attributes in this game but unfortunately, a bit of rust prevented him from finishing any of his 14 shot attempts. The positive news for fans of the spoked B is that Pastrnak was creating and involved despite recovering from surgery and his delayed start to the season. His line was notably more dangerous from his sheer presence, imagine in a couple of games when he reaches 100%.
Karson Kuhlman (B) – Kuhlman looked pretty comfortable in his first action of the season. He skated well as he always does and put in the effort. He managed three shots on goal, not a bad opening night. The Minnesota native is more of a complimentary piece and this was true in this game. His linemates did more of the heavy lifting though he deserves credit for playing his role.
Charlie Coyle (B) – This was not a great game from the Bruins’ third line, the only trio to post negative expected goals totals. I wouldn’t fault Coyle’s game for this on this particular night. I thought he did a good job of transporting the puck through the neutral zone and protecting the puck down low. He managed four shots on goal and was his lines play driver.
Sean Kuraly (B) – Kuraly did what he was supposed to do tonight. He forechecked well, played tough defense, and was strong on the penalty kill. He attempted six shots on goal, hitting the net twice and accounting for two scoring chances. This was a reliable game from the Bruins fourth-line center.
Connor Clifton (B) – Clifton had a rough first period. He struggled on retrievals, forced some passes, and when he did manage a good rush subsequently gave it away at the offensive blue line leading to an odd-man rush against. However, he was much better the rest of the game. He settled in and simplified his game. Clifton was very good 1v1 standing up Ovechkin a couple of key times in the third amidst other solid defending.
Jakub Zboril (B) – Zboril continues to show why he can be a key part of the Bruins’ future as well as areas he needs to improve. The former shows up more than the latter in the form of great breakout passes, an ability to stretch the ice, and tonight a couple of great rushes up ice with the puck. While he typically defends well he struggled on a couple of pivots tonight giving the opposing forwards a little too much room to maneuver on the rush. On the flip side, he deftly broke up two 3v2 rushes including a key one late in the game.
Kevan Miller (B) – This was Miller’s best game of the season. He didn’t lose a battle all night. In previous games, he was chasing hits and tonight allowed the physical play to come to him maintaining better defensive positioning. He keyed the breakout better than usual leading to less time in his own zone.
Trent Fredric (C) – Fredric deserves credit for continuing to engage physically and agitate opposing players, though we could argue the merits of doing so with Tom Wilson. In the last two games though he just hasn’t been able to bring much more to the table. Other than a rush late in the second where he got a good shot off and one good shift in the third, he failed to factor into this game much. He also struggles at times on breakouts, something we can chalk up for now to the natural center still learning the wing, with a couple of giveaways leading to scoring chances against.
Craig Smith (C) – Smith had two or three good shifts in the third period but otherwise he was largely invisible or ineffective. He deserves credit for summoning a little jump late in the game but his uneven play wasn’t good enough on this evening.
Anders Bjork (C) – Bjork was fine tonight. He played hard and kept up with his linemates. Unfortunately, one game after really driving play, he was back to being more of a passenger again. He made a couple of good plays to sustain zone time but had no individual offense and didn’t have any real standout plays passing or off the puck either. He has though been a part of an effective fourth-line for what it’s worth.
Jeremy Lauzon (C) – The Quebecois defender was just a little off this evening. He was fighting the game from the outset. It wasn’t lack of effort or even positioning, it was just one of those nights where you fumble the puck and are off on your passes. He rushed with the puck quite a few times leading to low success rims around the boards or handcuffing his defense partner on exchanges. He also got a bad bounce and missed on his step at the offensive blue line on Washington’s second goal. In the second period, he was caught flat-footed and was beat outside only to be bailed out by Rask. He deserves credit for keeping his feet moving in the neutral zone and drawing a penalty at a key point in the third.
Tuukka Rask (C) – While it’s hard to fault Rask on any of the goals, he usually gets one or two of those. He was twice beat clean from the top of the circles, granted one of those was from one of the all-time great goal scorers, and he failed to track the puck through traffic on the other two goals against. He wasn’t bad but was also not at his sharpest. He did make two key pad saves in succession at the end of the third to ensure a point.
Moment of the night
Welcome Back David Pastrnak! Looking good!
Welcome Back Zdeno Chara? Looking good?