By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
There seems to be two teams that just have the Boston Bruins’ number this season – the New York Islanders and surprisingly, the New Jersey Devils. After another loss to the Devils, the Bruins now only have one win and zero regulation wins in five games against the team who currently sits second-last in the MassMutual East Division. Let’s dive into some grades on Bruins from the game and maybe see what went wrong.
Once again, the Bruins started a game on what seemed to be the wrong foot. The Devils had more of the energy in the opening twenty minutes and just appeared to be the more determined team. However, as the game went on, especially in the third period – the Bruins were the better team. It was clear they had some sort of urgency in the final regulation frame and the numbers show they were in control on both ends of the ice during that period. However, the lack of finishing and execution was the main reason for the shutout.
As we have seen in recent Bruins games, the Bruins are firing shots from everywhere on the ice – but there is not really one specific spot on the ice where Boston has a lot of their opportunities. That could be a good thing, but with zero goals on 40 shots, it may be a cause for concern. More shots is a good thing – but quality of those shots matter as well.
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.
Jaroslav Halak (A) – Halak only faced 28 shots in this one and the one goal he allowed was a significant deflection of Kyle Palmieri net-front. Halak, otherwise, looked solid in net for a large part of the game and made some big saves especially near the end of the third period – trailing by a goal. If there was more Bruins offence, this would look even better for Jaro.
Jack Studnicka (A) – In a game where the young 22-year-old only had 8:26 of 5-on-5 ice-time, he looked strong once again. Studnicka had a 75% CF and out scoring chanced the Devils 5-1 while he was on the ice. In addition, he had 3:13 of shorthanded time – helping the B’s kill off all four penalties. Not a bad outing for a rookie.
David Pastrnak (B+) – With Brad Marchand out of the lineup, David Pastrnak looked a bit out of sorts in the first period in this one. Zero shot attempts in the opening twenty minutes, but followed with seven total shots by the end of the game and according to MoneyPuck.com, finished with 11 total shot attempts in all situations. A goal would have been supreme, the chances were there for Pastrnak.
Anders Bjork (B) – While HockeyStatCards has Anders Bjork as the second-worst player on the Bruins tonight, I actually liked his game. He was very aggressive on the forecheck and generated a couple great scoring chances while shorthanded when he stripped Jack Hughes of the puck, getting a partial breakaway and another in the third period that eventually led to a decent Charlie Coyle chance. Bjork has legs and Boston needs that.
Patrice Bergeron (B) – Bergeron had a decent night considering he left with what potentially could be a broken nose off an accidental collision with Trent Frederic. Patrice just barely finished with a positive Corsi (52.38%), but did his magic on the faceoff dot, winning over 71% of his draws. He also scored what was believed to be the game-tying goal, but that would be waived off due to goaltender interference.
Anton Blidh (B-) – Like Studnicka, we didn’t see much of Blidh in this one – likely because the Bruins were on the hunt for the game-tying marker since the first period. With that said, in just over six minutes of 5v5 time, Blidh had two shot attempts, a hit, a block, and logged over three minutes of penalty-kill time. He had a good performance for a fourth-liner.
Karson Kuhlman (B-) – Kuhlman, in all honesty, had a good game as a fourth-liner as well. He was tied for second on the team with four shot attempts at 5v5 – where he only recorded 6:09 of ice-time. Kuhlman landed all those shots on goal and while some of them may have been not the best decision (like throwing a wrister on net from the point), a shot on net is better than missing the net or worse – turning the puck over altogether.
Matt Grzelcyk (B-) – Aside from a bad turnover in the defensive zone that led to New Jersey’s only goal of the game, Grzelcyk had a good night. He finished with the second-best CF% (63.64%), behind only Jack Studnicka. He also had seven scoring chances for and the third-best xGF% at 70.38%. If not for that costly mistake – he’d have a much higher grade.
Charlie McAvoy (B-) – Boston’s two best defencemen get the same grade tonight and rightfully so. McAvoy was also on the ice for the lone goal against and sat in the box for two minutes but led the Bruins in ice-time with just under 25 minutes played. McAvoy had the best xGF on the B’s (0.78) and the most scoring chances for (9). McAvoy did his part tonight looking past his -1 rating.
Trent Frederic (C+) – Frederic started the game on the top line with Bergeron and Pastrnak due to Marchand’s absence and even got a very short time on the man-advantage as well. That said, he didn’t generate much offence and aside from his three hits recorded – he wasn’t terrific defensively, finishing the game with a 48.00% CF% which was the second-worst among Boston forwards.
Jeremy Lauzon (C+) – Nothing extremely spectacular for Lauzon in Sunday’s loss, but he did his job. Three hits and was second on the Bruins in shorthanded ice-time with 3:24, behind only Charlie McAvoy. After just coming back from injury, it will take a bit of time for Lauzon to be what he was pre-injury – but I could see him back on the first pairing soon to spread out the puck-moving down the lineup.
Connor Clifton (C+) – Connor Clifton wasn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination tonight – especially considering what some of the other Bruins defencemen were like in this one. Clifton landed two hits and out-shot the Devils 7-to-3 while he was on the ice. In addition, he tallied two blocks including this massive one to keep the game in reach for the B’s. If Boston came back to earn a point or even two in this contest, this block would’ve been a big reason as to why.
Zach Senyshyn (C) – Senyshyn, along with linemates Bjork and Coyle, had a few decent shifts early in the game – but nothing really stood out for the young winger other than an untimely holding penalty with just less than seven minutes left in the third period.
David Krejci (C) – A couple of tough breaks for Krejci that went the other way might have changed his grade, but an open net on the power-play that he elected to pass on followed by him being the reason for Bergeron’s tying goal getting turned back due to goaltender interference – Krejci could have had better nights.
Charlie Coyle (C-) – Coyle’s not-so-good 2021 campaign continued in this one. Very little offensive threats other than very early in the game. Coyle was about as average as you can get, but having only two shot attempts in a game where 40 shots were put on MacKenzie Blackwood, Coyle needs to be better.
Craig Smith (C-) – Almost identical to Charlie Coyle. No offensive chances, although he had a bomb of a shot on Blackwood off the rush from far out that was easily saved. Only two shots on goal on two shot attempts and a 32.84 xGF% is not good enough for the free-agent acquisition from this past summer.
Jakub Zboril (C-) – Recently, Zboril has found struggles on both ends of the ice on that Bruins blueline and tonight was the same deal. Nothing really stood out for him and he wasn’t fantastic in his own end.
Nick Ritchie (C-) – Ritchie had six minutes on the power-play unit, but couldn’t help bury one especially when it was needed most. He did record one hit and four shots on goal in his 18:24 on ice, but defensively he allowed five scoring chances against while only recording two scoring chances for as well as having a 33.35 xGF which was fourth-worst on the team.
Steven Kampfer (D) – This is not necessary a knock on Kampfer, but he shouldn’t be a night-in-night-out type of player for the Bruins. He did have over a minute of penalty-kill time, but had the worst CF% and xGF% on the team. Kampfer is a decent replacement defenceman, but not a top-six player consistently.
Moment of the Night
The Bruins were THIS close to forcing overtime.