Bruins Post-game breakdown: Game # - 1: BOS vs CBJ
Bruins hockey is back! The NHLs return to play is underway and the Bruins got their perfunctory exhibition game out of the way. While more competitive then your average pre-season warm-up, this game lacked the urgency we should see when games start for real over the weekend. Jack Edwards noted between the first and second that Columbus seemed to have the advantage in the "Grit" department and the NESN post game show also harped on the need for the team to play with more bite. Perhaps this wasn't unexpected given the Bruins free pass to the official start of the playoffs and the fact the Jackets are about to fight with the Maple Leafs for their right to do so. But the game served it's purpose as the Bs were able to work through some line-up options, get some work on special teams, and identify some areas that need attention before the Flyers come to....a neutral site.
The Recap - The Story - The Stats - Video Breakdown - Jack Edwards moment of the night
A quick recap of tonight's action by period
1st Period - The Bruins got off to a quick start getting the better of the chances in the first few minutes. But as was evident to the viewer and backed up by the game flow in the stats section, Columbus was the stronger team through the remainder of the period. A sloppy neutral zone turnover saw Boone Jenner beat Sean Kuraly to the far post and finish an impressive backhand saucer pass from Liam Foudy. A Bruins penalty turned into a goal on a Zach Werenski one-timer Rask was unable to square up to as it beat him over the left shoulder. To round out the scoring, a nifty zone entry was followed by a pretty passing sequence punctuated by a Gustav Nyquist one-timer that beat Rask.
2nd Period - The second period was a little bit sluggish on both ends of the rink barring the odd rush here and there. On one such rush, David Pastrnak showed he didn't leave his hands in quarantine as he found an errant Sean Kuraly shot as Zdeno Chara crashed the net and cleared some space. Pastrnak calmly cut to the net and deposited the puck through the five hole.
3rd Period - The 3rd period featured a couple moments of chippy-ness, a brief preview of what we can expect from games coming Saturday. Given contact on Rask in the previous meeting of the teams, some might have expected more of this in the match-up. From a scoring standpoint the Jackets generally locked the game down and limited chances. Alexandre Texier sealed the game for John Torotrella's team with an empty netter with seconds on the clock.
Highlighting the key story lines and narratives of the game from across the Bruinsverse
From the Bruins Breakdown perspective the biggest story we tracked was the performance of players who were auditioning to Bruce Cassidy for spots in the line-up. Among these players were Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka, Karson Kuhlman, and Sean Kuraly. Kuraly, according to Cassidy in his post game presser, struggled early and when shifted down the line-up finished with a strong game overall. Kuraly's spot seems fairly secure but with Kase and Ritchie returning at some point, strong performances cannot hurt. Studnicka showed why he is getting a chance up the line-up, finding open space and showing off some hands and a quick release. He also looked the part of skinny rookie at other moments but looks more suited for a top-6 role than the others. Kuhlman did what he does. He showed straight line ability and hounded pucks. Bjork, he of the brand new 3 year contract, had some moments where he flashed his skill but didn't quite seem to hit full rhythm alongside Charlie Coyle in this particular game. How Cassidy continues to arrange his lines when the games mean something on Sunday and if the unfit become fit to play will be a subplot of the round-robin and playoffs.
Bruins beat writers, blogs, and twitter had the following to say:
Haggerty at NBC Sports speculates on Marchand's early exit from the game
Haggerty focuses on the rust and 'meh' effort along with other game notes
Stanley Cup of Chowder also discusses the rust and sums their sentiments up in the by-line, 'thank god this game didn't matter'
Fluto Shinzawa discusses Studnicka's quality audition for second line duty
Marinofsky dives into some key player's performances
BlacknGold recap the key plays
We finally solve the mystery of Pastrnak's Wilson tweet
And a couple reactions from #BruinsTwitter:
Taking a look at the stats and analytics of the contest to dig under the hood and complement the "eye-test" in breaking down the game
Normally we will be using MoneyPuck's expected goals visual but they are slacking until the games actually matter so we are using the visual from the venerable naturalstatrick.com. Evident from the visual is the Bruins quick start, but the Jackets took command of the game for about the next period and a half before a touch of a Bruin's third period push.
courtesy of Hockeystatcards.com
Sean Kuraly was lauded by his coach in the post game for turning his game around after an unfortunate start and demotion back to the 4th line. Kuraly had a little pop and generated some chances. This was notable from the eye test and it's backed up in the analytical numbers as well. Not noted in these numbers was Kuraly's physical presence in an otherwise physically muted game.
The second line of David Krejci, Jake Debrusk, and Studnicka also stand out. As a line they posted a 65% Corsi percentage and 73% of the expected goals. Studnicka and Debrusk led the team in individual expected goals getting into open space for David Krejci and generating scoring chances from there. We will look more at this later on tonight's video breakdown.
The Bruins did generate some chances from inside the house. However, a good portion of these were power play opportunities or off the rush. In terms of sustained pressure and getting shots towards the net, the map indicates Columbus having the better luck.
Also to note is the the amount of shooting from the far points by Columbus. While these are usually not a high danger shot, many of those came off of puck movement across the ice pulling the Bruins defensive alignment, and goalie, across the ice which increases chance of success. This may be an area to watch out for against future Bruins opponents.
Heat Map courtesy naturalstattrick.com
Video analysis examining the finer details of a key moment of the game, an important strategic decision, or a particularly impressive play
Click HERE if video fails to load
Our breakdown tonight features the Bruin's second line. The Bruins, in general, are quick in transition, and the second line deserves a lot of credit tonight for being particular dangerous going on the offensive after defending.
Key points in this clip:
Studnicka, a natural center, does an excellent job scooping the puck off the boards and making a quick touch to Krejci
Jake Debrusk wisely gets up ice allowing for a coordinated attack. Krejci gets him the puck with some speed and though not the cleanest exchange, Debrusk is able to get the puck back to Krejci
The speed of all three through the neutral zone backs off the Columbus D allowing for a zone entry with possession
Studnicka realizes that he can go to the net and get behind his defender. He not only does so, but gets into a seam for Krejci
Krejci shows why he has had such a successful career, deftly finding Studnicka in stride
Studnicka shows why Cassidy wants to try him on the 2nd line, not only finding the space but corralling the puck in traffic and showing some offensive flair even if he isn't quite able to finish
At the conclusion of this sequence, DeBrusk pursues the puck and forces the Jackets defender to rim the puck right back to the Bruins defender who keeps the play alive and sustains some zone time
IMAGE OF THE NIGHT
The Bruins and Jackets took a moment to recognize social justice issues by linking arms during the anthem. This is a moment of reflection for hockey and society which is why it is being included here.
On a lighter note though, if you look at 8 o'clock, it seems the players decided to put the tallest player on the ice, Zdeno Chara, next to the smallest, Nathan Gerbe, because you know, hockey players.
Get your chores done early on Sunday, the Big Bad Bruins kick off the round-robin against the upstart Broad Street Bullies. See you there!
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