By Michael DiGiorgio | Follow Me On Twitter: @BostonDiGiorgio
Last night’s game was one of those games you wish you could attend. The game featured everything hockey is known for: toughness, a plethora of goals, grit, determination, and fighting. Unfortunately, an unnecessary and dirty check to the head from the Capitals’ forward, Tom Wilson, sparked most of the intensity. Thankfully, the Bruins responded in all aspects of the game.
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 heat maps below show offensive zone unblocked shots in all situations. They’re actually quite similar and don’t reflect the score. However, the Bruins were much more effective and successful in their attempts and took advantage of their opportunities.
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.
Brad Marchand (A): Brad extended his point streak to four games, scoring two goals and adding an assist in a 5-1 win over Washington. Marchand was effective in all facets of the game in only 15:55 minutes on ice. Both goals came even strength, and he had a total of two shots on goal, bringing his shooting percentage to 100%. Marchand was the beneficiary of Patrice Bergeron’s incredibly athletic pass to open the scoring late in the first period. Marchand is a key ingredient to the Bruins’ success.
Charlie McAvoy (A): Based on the game’s intensity, some fans may have lost how well McAvoy played. He has entered himself into the Norris Trophy race, which awards the NHL’s best defensemen of the year. His first period was his best of the night. McAvoy gave Bruins’ fans a scare when he went down the team’s tunnel early in the game. Thankfully, it was only to repair a cut forehead. McAvoy was second on the team in time on ice, with 22:36. He finished the game with two assists, one being an impeccable pass to an open Trent Frederic.
Patrice Bergeron (A): Keep the A-train rolling. The captain led in ways you hoped he would. After Tom Wilson’s deliberate and cheap hit to Brandon Carlo’s head last night, Patrice Bergeron had some words for the Capital forward before the second period began. Bergeron is usually a silent leader, similar to how Jonathan Toews carried himself, which speaks to the magnitude of the hit if Bergeron is having words with a player. Bergeron had one goal and one assist in 14:18 time on ice. His assist brings his career total to 530, 23 behind Phil Esposito in all-time Bruins’ rankings.
David Pastrnak (A): Every player on the top line receives high remarks after this game. Pastrnak only needed to dish out one assist in this game. He played a total of 16:51 and recorded a plus-3 rating. His assist helped put the Bruins up 3-0 and showed immense chemistry amongst the top threesome. Based on where Pastrnak was stationed during the goal, it looked like a set play they had practiced before. Pastrnak is on pace to end the year with a stat line of 40-40-80 (Goals-Assists-Points).
Matt Grzelcyk (A-): This grade may come as a surprise to some. The Bruins missed Grzelcyk’s skill and puck movement. With Torey Krug’s departure, many (including potentially Grzelcyk himself) thought he’d fill Krug’s shoes. However, the two players aren’t as alike as initially thought. Grzelcyk is one of the best players when it comes to defensive zone breakouts and heads-up passing. He created the Pastrnak breakaway opportunity on Wednesday night and assisted Marchand’s second goal of the game in making it 4-0 last night.
Jaroslav Halak (B+): Halak’s play was subtly overlooked last night, mostly due to the fireworks everywhere else in the game. Halak had several impressive saves, a few of which were on odd-man rushes. Halak had a shutout more than halfway through the third but it was unfortunately spoiled by Jakub Vrana. This goal didn’t matter much to the game and didn’t take away from his other fantastic saves. Halak stopped 31 of 32 last night, bringing his season save percentage to .913% and a 2.24 goals-against average. Most of the time, goalies can set the tone for a game based on one or two saves. His save on Lars Eller did just that. The Bruins may have been looking at a different type of game had Eller buried this one.
Trent Frederic (B+): This is another grade that might come as a surprise. The game score above has Frederic lower than David Krejci, though I will give him a few extra points for making the extra effort. Frederic has been pestering players since he took his first stride in the NHL. The 6’2, 203-pound forward has developed a reputation that he can score and fight. His goal came from McAvoy’s heads-up pass early in the game, leaving Frederic alone out front to tip the shot past Washington’s goalie, Vitek Vanecek. I give him the extra points for going after Tom Wilson after Wilson already answered to Jarred Tinordi. Frederic doesn’t have nearly as many fighting minutes as Wilson, nor does he have the same rap sheet. However, Trent doesn’t shy away from any player thus far in his career. Wilson may have won the battle, but Frederic held his own and was even spotted smiling during the fight. The two continued their jousting well after the gloves were picked up, too. It’s safe to say the Bruins picked a good one in 2016.
David Krejci (B): Krejci had a solid game, nothing fancy and nothing out of the ordinary. Krejci had the primary assist on Nick Ritchie’s goal, which made the game 5-0 in the third. Krejci is still searching for his first goal of the season and had a 29% success rate at the face-off dot last night, winning only two. The Bruins didnt need Krejci much in this game but he helped when he was needed.
Nick Ritchie (B): As fellow Black and Gold writer Mike Cratty would say, the year of Nick Ritchie continues. Ritchie has been off to a hot start this year, recording eight goals in 21 games. This puts him on pace to score 21 goals, which would crush his current career-high of 14. If Ritchie can continue this pace and continue to gel with Krejci, Don Sweeney will have won the trade that brought him here.
Connor Clifton (B): After Brandon Carlo’s unfortunate exit from the game, Clifton and the rest of the defensive core had to play extra minutes. Clifton did just that and led the team in time on ice. He played three more minutes than McAvoy, totaling 25:38. The rest of his game was uneventful, which is usually what you want from a defenseman.
Jarred Tinordi (B-): Tinordi is another player who is receiving extra credit for his leadership last night. Tinordi was claimed off of waivers from the Nashville Predators. The 6’6, 205-pound beast stuck up for Brandon Carlo after only his second game with the club. Someone had to make Tom Wilson pay, and Tinordi let his teammates know it’d be him. Maybe that’s what Bergeron told Wilson at the beginning of the second period? If Bruins fans weren’t on board with the claiming of Tinordi before, they sure are now. He also added two hits and two blocks in the game.
Jakub Zboril (B-): Zboril played fairly well this game after making up for a lost defenseman. He has been getting some top-pair minutes this season, and he’s been settling in quite nicely. Bruns fans are really starting to see what Don Sweeney and his scouts saw back in 2015. He is gaining confidence and is keeping his mistakes to a minimum. One Bruins fan, in particular, enjoyed Zboril’s play last night, and for a good reason.
Jake DeBrusk (C+): DeBrusk has had an extremely tough start to his year. He was just okay in this game, though he saved his grade after assisting Ritchie’s goal. He was given a few opportunities to score, one of which was a mini breakaway. His drought continues, unfortunately. It might be time to healthy scratch Jake. Please make no mistake; this doesn’t mean the team should give up on him. Healthy scratching a guy can help a player rest and take a few games off mentally and physically.
Anders Bjork (C+): Bjork was another player with an uneventful game. He had one shot on goal and only 13:26 time on ice. He did not record a point and is still looking for a rhythm to his game.
Craig Smith & Charlie Coyle (C+): These two had similar games. Coyle returned from a short absence under the COVID protocols. Smith assisted Frederic’s goal, and he was also looking up to the rafters after missing an opportunity to score. Coyle had a fairly quiet game, with two shots on goal and a very questionable slashing penalty.
Jack Studnicka (C+): Studnicka recorded two shots on goal and zero points. He was present in many odd-man rushes and offensive zone opportunities. He was also awarded time on the penalty kill, which shows Head Coach Bruce Cassidy’s growing trust in him. Studnicka had seven short-handed goals in the AHL last season, which could be an immense boost to him and the Bruins if he can replicate that.
Chris Wagner (C+): Another forward who had an uneventful game. Wagner served a minor for slashing at the end of the game. He did not record a shot on goal in 20 shifts of the game.
Brandon Carlo (INC.): It pains me to write that Brandon Carlo receives an inconclusive due to a cheap hit delivered by Tom Wilson.
Carlo has a history of concussions, one of which was delivered by Alexander Ovechkin. Wilson has a history of these hits, and though he is not technically a repeat offender by the leagues’ rules, he has received an in-person hearing (via zoom). There are two types of hearings in the NHL. The first is over the phone, which carries a maximum of five games. The second is an in-person hearing which allows the NHL to give more than five games.
Last night, I’d have guessed Wilson would’ve received three games. After this news, he may get six or more. Brandon Carlo left the game in an ambulance to the hospital, and his status is unknown as of this afternoon. Hopefully, the Bruins are not without Carlo for an extended period of time because he is a key ingredient to the Bruins’ success.
Moment Of The Night
The moment of the night came from Patrice Bergeron. No, it was not his pass to Marchand; instead, it highlighted his leadership. After Jarred Tinordi fought Tom Wilson, the Bruins scored three goals while both players sat in the penalty box. After the Bruins’ third goal, Bergeron makes it a point to go over and “celebrate” with Tinordi with a stick tap to the penalty box’s glass. This gesture shows Tinordi that his teammates are grateful for his sacrifice and have repaid him.