PHOTO CREDITS: (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

It seemed the Boston Bruins were starting to get their groove back, going 7-2-2 in eleven games prior to this weekend and were gaining ground on the Pittsburgh Penguins for third in the MassMutual East Division. However, the Flyers on Saturday and the Capitals on Sunday put a screeching halt on the Bruins’ recent success. Washington ran over the Bruins, 8-1 the final score, and seemed to be the better team with ease throughout this one. Regardless, let’s give the roster some grades on their performance.

The Numbers:

Data from NaturalStatTrick

Strictly looking at the 5v5 numbers from this one, you might not have expected the Bruins to have lost by seven goals. The Capitals scored a lot early and quite honestly played the game much less aggressively and quite passive. They were willing to absorb the Bruins’ chances – knowing they likely scored enough goals to secure a win. Also, Washington went 3-for-6 on the man-advantage in this one, punishing Boston for their penalties taken.

A lot of Boston’s shot attempts came from the faceoff circles and the point with few solid chances in the slot. Shots on net is a good thing, yes, but quality matters as well. Closer to the goaltender you can get should get you the better chances and perhaps played into Boston only scoring a single goal.

Player Grades

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.

Craig Smith (A-) – Smith had the only goal tonight for Boston, a rebound tap-in on the power-play when the game was already wrapped up for the most part. Smith now has thirteen points in his last twelve games and in less than ten minutes five-on-five tonight, was again one of the better players. A bright spot in a dark game.

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak (B+) – The first line for the Bruins was reunited for just around ten minutes of 5v5 ice-time and was – to no surprise – the best line for the B’s. They out-shot the Capitals 9-3, had a 79.51 xGF and a 70.00 CF%. David Pastrnak (7) and Patrice Bergeron (6) were one and two for shot attempts as well.

Anton Blidh, Chris Wagner, Sean Kuraly, (C+) – Blidh led the Bruins tonight in hits with five while Kuraly recorded one as well. The pair combined for nine shot attempts and seemed to have more jump to their step than a lot of the other Bruins tonight. Wagner was not as involved on the stat sheet, but started the game with a fight off the draw with Brendan Dillion – a move to try and spark some emotion in this game, but in hindsight, didn’t really do much.

David Krejci (C) – Aside from the top line, Krejci had the most shot attempts with five, tied with Anton Blidh. He was also only one of seven Bruins to have a positive on-ice xGoals Differential with a 0.51. Krejci also went 53% on the faceoff dot, but that’s about it from him.

Nick Ritchie (C) – Similar to Krejci, not much from Nick Ritchie in this one other than a hit, four shots on goal and a 0.5xGF. Not much offence from the Bruins, not surprising Ritchie doesn’t score very well.

Karson Kuhlman (C) – Karson Kuhlman had a pretty average game as well, putting three shot attempts towards the net – but 67% of them were blocked before they got to the Washington goaltender. A lot of Kuhlman’s shots hit bodies in front, but he is trying to get pucks to the net and in the chance they do get there – there is a solid chance he finds the back of the twine.

Jake DeBrusk (C-) – DeBrusk did get credit for an assist on Smith’s power-play tally, but he wasn’t phenomenal other than that. Only one shot on goal off one shot attempt is not enough for a player that once crept close to the 30-goal plateau. Jake had the third-highest xGA on the forward core for the Bruins, not great.

Charlie Coyle (C-) – As per, Charlie Coyle had the worst expected goals percentage on the team – putting out a 0.16 xGF and a 0.7 xGA. While yes, he did tally an assist, Coyle needs to drive more offensive in Boston’s depth and tonight he didn’t do that well enough.

Connor Clifton (C-) – The only reason I don’t have Clifton as a worse grade – is because he was the only Bruins defenceman to not be on the ice for a goal against. Clifton logged 4:47 of time shorthanded and 19:23 of total time on ice and in my opinion, was the best d-man for Boston. That says a lot about how this game went.

Dan Vladar (D) – It’s hard for me to put much blame on Vladar for this one – too many times the Bruins’ defence let him out to dry, especially on the power-play, but there still has to be some blame place on the netminder when eight goals are allowed. Vladar did make some nice stops on the power-play, but other than that, wasn’t brilliant in net. Tough showing for him.

Jack Ahcan, Jarred Tinordi (D-) – Jack Ahcan is an AHL defenceman and Tinordi was a recent pickup off the waiver wire – yet these two blueliners logged just over 21 minutes of ice-time each and was Boston’s first pair. They had an abysmal 13.18 xGF% and were the two defenders who allowed the most shots against in this one. Not to mention, Ahcan finished the night with a -3 rating, Tinordi a -2.

Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril (D-) – Both young defenders got beat on the outside a lot, missed coverages and were not terrific stat-wise either. It was kind of a nothing game for both of them, even though Zboril left the game for a very brief time after an awkward fall with a Capitals player. Bruins relied on both of them a lot in this one, which could be a reason for the loss too.

Steven Kampfer (D-) – Once again, Steven Kampfer should not be playing 18:29 in an NHL game, but with the injuries to Boston, Bruce Cassidy had no choice. Kampfer had three goals against him tonight and the third-worst xGA. Bad night again.

Moment of the Night:

Yeah, this might have been a bit of a warning.