Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports

Blackhawks 3, Bruins 1: Mounting injuries can become cause for concern

Ty Anderson
March 11, 2018 - 3:43 pm

If the Bruins were going to see their six-game winning streak come to an end, it probably made sense for Sunday’s matinee in Chicago to be the day it happened.

Not only was this game their second in as many days (with travel) and with Anton Khudobin in net after a seven-goal outburst the day before, but this was an 11:30 a.m. local time start. Factor in daylight saving time and this felt like a 10:30 a.m. game. The Bruins were also still without the injured Patrice Bergeron (foot) and Charlie McAvoy (knee), and David Backes was sitting as a wrap to his three-game suspension.

Oh, and Brad Marchand (upper-body) was a last-second scratch for the Bruins.

So perhaps their 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks is far from a shock.

But we’re obviously seeing the Bruins hit the limit of losses they can withstand.

The 29-year-old Marchand has without question been the straw to stir the Black and Gold’s drink in Bergeron’s absence, with five goals and 11 points in the last six games. That production has spread to Marchand’s linemates, too, with three goals and eight points for Riley Nash and two goals and nine points for David Pastrnak.

Down Marchand (and everybody else), though, the Bruins had a relatively top-heavy offensive attack centered around Pastrnak and Rick Nash on the wings, and with David Krejci asked to shoulder his first 20-minute game since Feb. 17 against the Canucks. Pastrnak did everything but score in his one-on-one showdown against Duncan Keith, with five of his seven shot attempts landing on net, and finished without a point. Nash struggled to do much of anything, meanwhile, with one of his five shot attempts landing on Chicago’s Anton Forsberg.

Brian Gionta would lead all B’s skaters with seven shots on goal.

Zdeno Chara, in the box when Patrick Kane scored the game-winning power-play goal and then off the ice with a bad change that led to Brent Seabrook’s insurance marker with just over a minute left in the game, scored Boston’s lone goal of the afternoon.

This game may have seemed winnable -- Nick Holden missed an open net in the second period and the B’s peppered 14 shots on goal in the middle frame -- but by the game’s end, you were just happy that Torey Krug dodged a serious injury after a stick to the groin.

And this almost seems like the positive you’ll spin any loss into these days. 

Barring something catastrophic, the Bruins have punched their ticket to the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They’re likely to sit somewhere in the Atlantic Division’s top three (and I think you could make the case that falling to No. 3 spot is almost impossible given their point and ROW lead over the Maple Leafs), too. So you’re good. You’re all set.

You’re also already cutting it close to postseason trouble with expected recovery times for Bergeron and McAvoy, and Marchand’s injury is a complete mystery at this point. And while the Bruins will gladly take the depth pieces contributing like they have, the absolute last thing the Bruins need is a repeat of last season’s final week, which saw you lose both Brandon Carlo and Krug. Neither player returned in the club's first-round series, and additional injuries just straight-up ravaged the Boston blue line by the end of the series, as noted countless times.

For that to happen for the second season in a row (especially to the B's ultra-talented forward corps), would be the cruelest of fates for a team that’s been so consistently good and borderline unbeatable when at 100 percent this season.

So while you’re obviously still not at the point in the year where you’ll straight-up bench players, and though first place in the Atlantic remains a (somewhat far away) goal, it may actually be in the B’s best interest to see what strategies they can employ to preserve their best players between now and Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

And with 15 games remaining in the final 28 days of the regular season, too, it may be their only hope for a deep run with their best at their disposal. 

The Bruins return to the rink Tuesday against the ‘Canes. Fortunately for the Bruins, that game is expected to come with at least one player (Backes) back in action.

The Big Bad Blog is presented by: 

 Technology Decisions Aren't Black and White. Think Red. Click here for more.

Comments ()