Bruins need to avoid offside and other observations from a loss in Washington

Matt Kalman
December 11, 2019 - 10:37 pm

We promised you a better showing and you got it.

We promised you the Bruins would be more emotionally involved at the start, and throughout the game, once they saw the Washington Capitals across the ice from them rather than the Ottawa Senators.

We were right.

We also promised you that even the best Bruins 60-minute effort in weeks would not guarantee two points. Right again. Boston lost 3-2 at Washington on Wednesday.

The losing streak is now at four in a row, and for the first time this season three straight wins have come in regulation. Is it time to fire the coach? Demote half the lineup to Providence? Convert Zdeno Chara to a left wing?

No.

The Bruins made strides in getting their game back together, their power play let them down with just eight shots on net in five opportunities, and they came up one goal shy against the only team that’s ahead of them in the NHL standings.

Here are a few observations after the loss:

Power play plop

Not only did the Bruins fail on the power play, they didn’t register a shot on goal and only had two shot attempts (both blocked) the last 90 seconds of the game with Jaroslav Halak pulled for an extra attacker. The Capitals showed up with the fifth-ranked penalty kill in the league, and it showed.

For reasons undiscovered as of yet, the puck movement hasn’t been as quick or crisp as it was when the power play was on fire, despite the return of Patrice Bergeron to his bumper role the past two games. However, you can’t completely ignore the power play goal the Bruins scored in an alternate universe where the NHL doesn’t review teams’ zone entries 20 seconds after they happen and overturn goals. Which leads me too …

Learn to not go offside

The NHL offside review sucks. There’s no arguing with that or that it messes with the integrity of the game. Jake DeBrusk being a quarter stride offside did not have any effect on him setting up Bergeron’s goal 20 seconds later.

But guess what? They’re not changing the rule this year. So the Bruins have to adjust. This wasn’t like Charlie Coyle’s offside in Montreal, when he was kicking the puck from his skate to his stick and there was debate over possession. DeBrusk was offside. There has to be more attention to detail, even if it means the Bruins don’t all break in at full speed or their break-in is a little disjointed. You know if a team has a challenge, they’re going to use it. The video crews are too good, the coaches are too smart. Which reminds me …

Fourth line blues

Sean Kuraly scored the goal that tied the game 2-2 at the 2:53 of the third period. His reward? One more shift in the whole damn game, along with his linemates Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner. They didn’t play the final 10 minutes. Sure there was a 4-on-4 for two minutes and some 6-on-5 at the end, but how did coach Bruce Cassidy lose his energy players for half a period, especially when one of them provided half the night’s offense? An unfortunate decision by the coach. Which sort of cancelled out …

Ritchie shows signs of life

Stop your complaining about Brett Ritchie playing on the second line. He got nine minutes of ice time. That didn’t cost the Bruins the game. In fact, Ritchie had one of his more impressive games as a Bruin, nearly scoring off a sweet feed by David Krejci in the first period and then burying Michal Kempny on the forecheck before setting up a Zdeno Chara scoring chance in the third period. It was just his third game back from injury, and then he found himself benched like the fourth line, replaced by Anders Bjork on Krejci’s line for the game’s last couple shifts. Perhaps Ritchie will have better luck playing with Charlie Coyle, but Cassidy has to see try different things and Ritchie held his own as the Bruins’ second-line right wing for one night.

And in a twist that might be positive or negative, until Bjork replaced Ritchie in the final six minutes of the game, Cassidy basically kept his four forward lines in the alignment they started the game. And on that note …

Pastrnak back on track

In Ottawa, David Pastrnak looked like he couldn’t get rid of the puck quick enough and one had to wonder if all the physical play against him lately was getting to his head. There were no such worried in Washington, where the Caps were being extra diligent in finishing their checks against not just Pastrnak, but also Zdeno Chara and some of the Bruins’ other best players.

Pastrnak scored his first goal in five games, and he had four shots on net among his seven attempts. He’s probably ready to heat up again, and then we can start the debate about whether he should be playing with Bergeron or Krejci.

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