By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me @BruinsBreakdown
Don’t look now but the Bruins are 6-2-2 in their last ten games following their 4-2 victory of the Washington Capitals. In a pretty even game, Boston was the more opportunistic of the two teams finishing their chances on four occasions on a less than sharp Ilya Samsonov. This game featured quality performances from all over the lineup leading to Andy Brickley’s end-of-game comment, “This victory has everybody’s fingerprints on it.” Let’s break it all down and assign some player grades.
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.
Normally we only include the 5v5 stats in this section but 21 minutes, more than a period, in this game was played in other situations. The powerplay time was significant with three of six goals scored on the man, or two-man, advantage. The Caps dominant numbers in the second period were largely a product of their strong powerplay unit. Even so, the numbers bear out that this was a pretty even game.
Boston has done a better job the last few games of being greasier and getting chances from between the dots. Even on Lauzon’s goal from the point, the Bs had bodies on top of the crease. The Capitals’ two goals came from a familiar spot on the powerplay.
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.
Kevan Miller (A) – My fellow Catamount has been quite strong since returning from injury. His skating looks quite smooth and he has been confident on his first pass. He led the team with more than 25 minutes of ice time. While Miller did not contribute much offense the Bruins were on the positive end of the play during his minutes.
Jeremy Swayman (A) – Swayman now knows why they call it Ovechkin’s office which officially makes him an NHL goalie. Swayman looked even more cucumber-like than he did in his NHL debut a couple of nights earlier and is a treat to watch. Boston played good defense in front of the rookie netminder and limited the odd-man rush attempts but Swayman made a few difficult saves look easy with his lateral mobility and ability to quickly square up to threats.
Craig Smith (A) – Smith continues to make up ground for his slow start with a goal and an assist. On his assist, he did Smith-like things getting the entry into the zone, keeping the play alive, and allowing his team to stay in the offensive zone. His powerplay goal was the moment that sealed the game. Despite it not being a great 5v5 night, and receiving limited ice time due to all the special teams’ play, Smith’s effort level continues to be an asset for his new team. Also, did you know Craig Smith is Superman?
Sean Kuraly/Chris Wagner (A) – This was Wagner’s best game since early in the season and Kuraly was quite effective as well. The duo, along with Blidh, generated several scoring chances and spent most of their shifts in the offensive zone. They were physical and stout defensively. This was a great game from the fourth-line.
Brad Marchand (A-) – This wasn’t Marchand’s best game as he wasn’t the usual puck transporter or possession monster that we usually see. The fact that he had a goal and an assist is a testament to his status as a special player and his shorthanded goal was a thing of beauty. The Halifax native rounded out his box score in a very Marchand-like fashion with a slashing penalty following a heated discussion with Garnet Hathaway.
David Pastrnak (B+) – Pastrnak gets a little bit of a lower grade because he is a guy that is counted on to produce. He did however generate several glorious chances and his playmaking ability continues to be underrated. While not his most dominant game, performances like this will lead to positive outcomes. We would all love a more dominant Pasta but there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with his game right now. The coaching staff must find ways to get the Czech winger’s shot back into the powerplay arsenal though.
Anton Blidh (B+) – I really wanted to give Blidh an A for his goal, even if it was a bit of puck luck. It was hard to look past his double-minor though which cost his team their decisive lead. Blidh showed what the organization likes in him though, a physical winger who can skate.
Matt Grzelcyk (B+) – Grzelcyk was solid if unspectacular in his minutes. He came out on top against the Capitals’ better forwards. He had two shots on goal and a scoring chance but given his time on the first unit powerplay and his usual play, he was not as impactful as usual on the offensive side of the puck.
Jeremy Lauzon (B+) – Lauzon has logged heavy and tough minutes in Charlie McAvoy’s absence. While not always the smoothest operator he has performed well given the task. At 5v5 Lauzon’s results were not great on this night but he is a bend don’t break kind of guy and he did just that against some tough opposition. The Quebecois defender was strong on the PK and in protecting the lead in the latter stages of the game.
David Krejci (B) – There were not any highlight-reel moments for Krejci and he did not show up on the scoresheet tonight. In fact, we saw him less than usual as he had one of his lowest times on ice of the season. The veteran center did do some little things on the defensive side of the puck and did a nice job on many occasions of getting the puck up the ice and into the offensive zone including on Smith’s PP goal.
Nick Ritchie (B) – Ritchboi was a little quieter than usual following his first period takedown of Hathaway. Sometimes watching Ritchie move around the ice reminds you more of a player in your 10 pm Wednesday skate than an NHL-er but he is a beast and showed it in the scrap. Your beer league teammate also doesn’t have Ritchie’s hands or playmaking ability but those were not on display as much as usual in this one.
Charlie Coyle (B) – The local boy continues to show signs of life in the last couple of games. He had a particularly strong third period where he had two of his three scoring chances and his individual effort in front led to Smith’s goal. Normally a pretty decent possession player, Coyle has struggled in that department this season (only Kuraly and Wagner have worse numbers amongst regular forwards) and did so again in this contest.
Steven Kampfer (B) – Kampfer continues to do what is asked of him quietly and effectively. In less than 12 minutes on ice, he defended and moved the puck well.
Connor Clifton (B) – Clifton had to defend a little too much in this one but he generally did well in assessing the threats and playing his assignments which is a great sign from the young defender. He had three shot attempts though none hit the net.
Patrice Bergeron (B-) – After a slew of games where the captain was dominant, Bergeron wasn’t as impactful in this one. He generated little offense of his own and his line didn’t have their usual offensive zone time. He was his usual self on the penalty kill though and had a couple of key shot blocks.
Jakub Zboril (C+) – Zboril mostly had a good game picking up an assist and driving play when he was on the ice. Unfortunately, he was outwitted twice by a wily veteran in Connor Sheary and committed two minor penalties after losing those battles. That, coupled with the special teams play, was enough for the coaching staff and Little Z played less than 12 minutes on the night.
Jake DeBrusk (C) – DeBrusk was fine. He was moving his feet and had three shots on goal. He continues to be more of a depth piece for the team than an impact player. His line was caved in while he was on the ice though that was not necessarily on him. Any offense from DeBrusk at this point feels more like a bonus than a given.
Karson Kuhlman (C) – Kuhlman was out there. Did he do much? No. You caught a glimpse of him zooming up the wing a few times but that was about it. He played less than eight minutes so I have a hard time dinging him too bad when as much as he didn’t do much good there were also not any negatives.
Moment of the night
Yea, that was filthy.