By: Andrew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter @justyouknowhyyy
The Boston Bruins are officially on a two-game pointless streak after dropping a 3-2 decision to the New Jersey Devils. After having an unexpected four days off after a 4-2 loss on the Island, injuries and a cardiac style that has defined this year appear to have finally started to come to roost. While a 10-3-2 record is still nothing to sneeze at, the holes on the team appear to be widening ever so slightly.
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.
Once again, the Bruins have been playing a so-so, safe style for 40 minutes only to ramp it up in the third period. After a rough second period, the third saw almost yet another comeback. But as has been said from the outset, playing catch-up for most of the game is not sustainable hockey.
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.
Jake Debrusk (B+): No A’s tonight – no one on the Bruins deserved one in this writer’s opinion – but among the flotsam and jetsam was Jake Debrusk. Playing on his off-wing on the top line in Bruce Cassidy’s attempt to kickstart the other lines, Debrusk showed off some great straight-line speed and used it to get to the soft areas of the ice to pot his first goal of the season. Debrusk played under 14 minutes as Krejci’s injury ended up putting the lines in a blender, but Debrusk was effective for his time out there.
Anders Bjork (B): If Anders Bjork had potted a point tonight, he would have gotten an A. Bjork was everywhere on the ice, playing a key role on the PK and taking matters into his own hands at times in the offensive end, nearly completing a one-man rush where he split the defense with little effort in the third. It was the kind of offensive effort Bruins fans have been wanting to see for quite a while, here’s hoping he keeps it up.
Charlie McAvoy (B-): It was a strange game for McAvoy. Here is where the grading gets a little tricky. McAvoy almost took over the final five minutes of the game, even scoring with less than a minute left after tipping a Pastrnak point shot. He then nearly tied the game himself on a one-man rush with 30 seconds left. However, that does not absolve him from fighting the puck all night, complete with a couple of brutal turnovers that led directly to NJ scoring chances. It was a tough game all told for Mac.
Jeremy Lauzon (B-): Lauzon had a different kind of B- than his partner. Lauzon was very low-event but did have a few nice plays trying to generate offense, including a shorthanded 2-on-1 that he would have cashed in on if not for the dastardly crossbar. Lauzon continues to play very well as the steady hand on the top pair.
David Pastrnak (B-): Pastrnak was a bit snake-bitten tonight. Pasta was able to assist on McAvoy’s tally but was fighting the puck all night. Within the first 30 seconds, he was set up for a clapper only to have his stick explode, a telling sign for the rest of the affair. A good sign, however, was Pasta asserting himself physically at points.
Nick Ritchie (B-): Nick Ritchie continues his redemption tour, potting a secondary assist on McAvoy’s 3-2 goal. Ritchie had a very inconsistent game. A strong first period was punctuated by tenacious forechecking. The winger tailed off a little bit in the second and third although he did not do anything too egregious outside of getting beat to the outside on the Devils’ second goal. That is all we can really ask for and 11 points in 15 games at this point is a bonus.
Kevan Miller (C+): Kevan Miller continues to defy expectations by just being out on the ice. Miller had a very dependable Miller-type game. You wish some of the passing was crisper as a few exploded off his stick through the course of the game, but solid penalty killing continues to be a hallmark of his season.
Jaroslav Halak (C+): Halak sandwiched a great first and a solid third with a shaky second period. Jaro probably wanted the first and third goals back (though the third goal was a full bad team defense effort). After that shaky second, he made a couple of big saves to keep it within spitting distance. Exactly what you need from a backup goalie.
Sean Kuraly (C+): I was torn between a B- and a C+ for Kuraly, but I settled on the latter. There was a tangible positive effect when he was on the ice, playing over 16 minutes and generating 3 scoring chances. Kuraly and Bjork worked very well in tandem with each other throughout the night.
Patrice Bergeron (C): This almost feels wrong, but Mr. Perfect himself had a very average game, which for him was below average. Bergeron (along with Marchand, who we’ll get to in just a moment) disappeared for long stretches. He did win 68% of his draws, but for Bergeron, you expect more of an actionable difference and needed it especially after losing Krejci. Instead, Bergeron was neutralized. Just like…
Brad Marchand (C): When Brad Marchand is on he uses his speed and his puck possession to open lanes to make things happen and bring defensemen to their knees. Tonight just seemed like a lot of skating and flailing (A very bad high sticking penalty put Boston on a 5-3 disadvantage) that amounted to not much. You like to take at least one remarkable play away from a Marchand game, but sadly today did not provide one.
Brandon Carlo (C): Brandon Carlo had a rough game, though he showed some flashes of life, which keeps him in the average territory. Carlo was tasked with being on the right side of a John Moore pair and the two were caved in throughout the first period. Carlo recovered enough to at least make a few plays offensively, getting pucks towards the net with his heavy shot including one off the iron.
Connor Clifton (C): This was a rare low-event game for Clifton, which frankly is a little nice all things considered. Cliffy hockey didn’t really get a chance to shine outside of a few carries with speed out of the zone. As usual, the passes in transition need work but Cliffy’s puck handling is what it is at this point.
Trent Frederic (C-): “Frederic Fight Club” may be temporarily closing down soon. Outside of one really nice buzz and rush by the third line in the first and a little chip in the third, Frederic still has not been able to figure out his game outside of trying to be truculent. Moving to center with Krejci’s injury seemed to slightly rejuvenate him, but Boston went down to 11 forwards and his TOI was still under 10 minutes. Not a good sign for a player whose spot in the lineup is hanging by twine and a wish. Though it might be fun to at least dress him for games against PK Subban.
Craig Smith (C-): For someone who is a volume shooter, Smith has been playing lately like the volume is on mute. Smith only managed two shots on goal and was a general non-factor throughout, though he was hardly alone in that, speaking of the third line.
Charlie Coyle (C-): Charlie Coyle had a bit of a rough game. He was seemingly a victim of the Bruce Cassidy line blender in this one. Having said that, Coyle has had a very tough go of it the last few games and whether you think he may be hurt is up for speculation. We haven’t seen the old Coyle in quite a while.
Chris Wagner (D+): Wagner made little use of his nine minutes on the ice. Playing so little likely is indicative of the coaching staff’s thoughts of his play especially after going down a forward early on. Wagner took a penalty in the first and never seemed to get out of the blocks after that.
John Moore (D+): I really struggled with whether or not to give Moore a D. The night was not kind to the $2.75 million-man. Moore was beaten wide constantly, unable to impose any sort of physical will, and finally in a coup-de-grace of his evening, had his lunch taken away by a very simple lateral move and pass by Andreas Johnsson that directly led to the third goal. Moore did look a little better during the run of play in the third (which leads to the +) but at that point, it was way too little and much too late.
David Krejci (Inc.): Krejci left after the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return, Krejci did show a little bit of chemistry with David Pastrnak before exiting the game. Hopefully he won’t be absent for too long.
Moment of the night
This kid is stupid good:
Well, onto the next one…