The Columbus Day weekend was indeed a long weekend for the Boston Bruins. A bad start to the season in Game 1 got progressively worse Saturday when the Bruins renewed their rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins got behind early following a Montreal powerplay goal and it was too much, resulting in a 4-2 loss littered with more defensive miscues. On Monday the B’s welcomed the Lightning to TD Garden and jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Then Tampa Bay started the onslaught, outscoring the Black and Gold 6-1 over the next 40 minutes, almost a repeat of their first game versus Winnipeg. Last night, the Big Bad Bruins returned to the win column for the first time in 6 months with a 6-2 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche. Jimmy Hayes had 4 points on a goal and 3 assists and the B’s jumped ahead 5-0 at one point in the second period. Here are some points of interest in the last 3 games:
Mental mistakes: There are too many first of all, and second of all they have been happening at the most critical times. For example, taking a penalty not even two minutes into the Montreal game. The Bruins are taking too many penalties especially early in games, the need to do a better job of getting their feet out from under them and starting the game cleaner. Monday, after taking a 2-0 lead and dominating the game, Brian Boyle scored for the Lightning to give them life. An innocent rush turned into Boyle getting lost by the defense in the middle of the ice and getting a clean look and shot on goal. The Bruins did a good job of correcting those issues last night but mental mistakes can’t be made this often if they are to be successful.
Third Line explodes….Finally: With Brad Marchand injured, the B’s need to look to a line to carry some sort of scoring load. Wednesday night, they certainly found it. The third line consisting of Jimmy Hayes, Ryan Spooner and Chris Kelly combined for 7 points in last nights victory. Jimmy Hayes needs to step up and find that scoring touch he found Wednesday. With Brett Connolly promoted to the third line, Chris Kelly was put on the third line to give the line some defensive accountability which that line didn’t have in the first 3 games. While he’s not a scorer expect him to put up decent numbers for the time he’s playing with Ryan Spooner and Hayes.
Not Tuukka’s Time: While these losses aren’t all on the goaltenders shoulders, some blame needs to put on number 40. Through 3 games, Rask’s numbers are pitiful: 0-3 Record, .846 Save Percentage and a 4.72 Goals Against Average. While the defense in front of him is less than competent at times, Rask has given up goals that make you shake your head, because he normally is unflappable in net and not a reason of concern. Last night, Jonas Gustavsson got the start and played well only allowing two goals, one of them an own goal off of Chara’s stick. Look for Gustavsson to start more if Tuukka continues to struggle.
The Captain’s Back: It was good to see Big Zee back in uniform Monday afternoon against the Lightning. The Bruins looked lost on defense in the first two games and while his return didn’t help right away, it help in the long run in terms of depth so the Bruins aren’t relying on Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug on their first pairing. Don’t get me wrong, Krug could be a top two defenseman in the future but he’ll need to improve defensively if that’s gonna happen. Chara is on the older side and a bit mistake-prone but is the Bruins most solid defender and his presence alone changes the Bruins playing style for the better.
Next Game: On Saturday the Big Bad Bruins travel to Glendale to take on the Arizona Coyotes. The B’s will look forward their second straight win against Arizona and Anthony DuClair who just notched his first career hat trick the other night. Look for this one to be high scoring as both teams defensive units are struggling.