By: Joe Todd | Follow me on Twitter @heyjoetodd
The Blackhawks came to town for the first time since December 5th, 2019, where the Bruins lost 4-3 in overtime. The 2013 Stanley Cup opponents have not played each other since February 5th, 2020. The two teams are currently going in opposite directions as Chicago is third-last in the Western Conference while the Bruins continue to climb the standings in the East, currently positioned seventh, and chasing Toronto for the third spot in the Atlantic division. The Bruins would reverse their recent string of allowing tying or game-winning goals with under one minute left, with Pastrnak scoring the game winner with 17 seconds left. Bruins win 4-3! Here are the talking points:
Jack attacks! Does not defend.
Jack Ahcan’s game tonight was a bit of a mixed bag. In the first, Jack Ahcan jumped into the offensive zone, kept the puck in, made a nice move around the forward, and took it to the net. Unfortunately, his backhand went wide and led to a rush the other way. His inability to get the puck out on multiple occasions led to substantive offensive zone pressure from the Blackhawks. He got beat under heavy forecheck pressure and could not get back in time to get his stick on the Hagel wrap-around goal because of the extended shift.
Lots of raw talent in Jack Ahcan’s game, and you can see the similarities with both Krug and Grzelyck comparisons. These types of defensemen will give and takeaway. He got some playtime on the first powerplay unit and would bury his first career NHL goal off a no-quit effort. Is he being showcased? Instead of trading a left defenseman like Zboril, Vaakanainen, or even Lohrei, could teams be interested in Ahcan at the deadline?
The defense was willing to make aggressive pinches in the offensive zone tonight with mixed results. Connor Clifton made an excellent jump into the play to keep it alive in the offensive zone, and his shot with purpose led to a rebound which Coyle buried.
A few minutes later, Carlo elected to make a pinch against Patrick Kane, which resulted in a four-on-one. Ahcan was left alone to defend, and Kane found DeBrincat to tie the game at one. The defense and goaltending tonight were not as stout as they normally were, and you have to give a lot of credit to the aggressive forecheck of the Blackhawks. I felt the Bruins struggled with the Kings forecheck last game, which could further the need for the Bruins to upgrade on defense at the deadline.
Frederic and Friends
The third line of Frederic – Coyle – Smith continues to impress with extended zone time and scoring chances. Is there a better set of players for Frederic to learn from? The puck protection and defense of Coyle. The volume-shooting and aggressive forecheck of Smith. Sprinkle in his own nastiness and willingness to finish checks, and you have a complete player. Keep an eye on Frederic’s shot; he’s got some real power behind it. In the past few games, I have noticed goalies being unable to handle them cleanly, resulting in numerous rebound opportunities. Frederic would finish the game with one shot and two hits, but the unit continues to score, with Coyle adding to their success tonight.
Todd’s and Ends
Cliffy Hockey was engaged tonight. Jumping up on the rush, trying to throw big hits, and finish with one shot, one hit, and an assist. However, I still believe the Bruins need a trade to replace him on the right side.
What a pass by McAvoy, and what a shot from Pastrnak. The powerplay looked deadly tonight, going 2/3.
Does anyone whiff on one-timers more than Marchand? The first line has not looked as dangerous with DeBrusk on the RW.
The next game for the Boston Bruins is Saturday night against the visiting Coyotes.