Hockey is a fantastic sport, but I’ve always said that watching it on television doesn’t do it justice at all. There’s so much going on that is not shown on TV – like seeing five guys just jump over the boards and switch on the fly – and you just get a whole different perspective on just what kind of freak athletes these players really are. I was actually never even a fan of the Bruins or hockey in general until I attended my first game at the Garden, and now I am in love with the B’s (even when they are painful to watch).
I was up in the balcony at the Garden for Saturday’s game between the Bruins and the Washington Capitals, and I had the pleasure of being joined by a fellow Couch Guy writer and one of my best friends Lauren Campbell:
Seeing the team live gave me a bird’s eye view of some of the weaknesses and glaring issues with the Bruins, but there were some bright spots amidst the frustrating 3-2 loss. Here are my takeaways from Section 323:
There is no urgency on this Bruins team, nor does it look like they care much: Saturday was just another game with another terrible start, which put them in a hole that they could not escape. Last week, the B’s were down 3-0 to the Blue Jackets, then showed some resiliency and passion by scoring three straight goals to steal a point. That desire to come from behind was lacking against the Caps, though they did have a strong second period before allowing a late goal that seemed to suck all the momentum out of them. Case in point: an early four-minute power play that looked like a four-minute penalty kill. Trailing by two goals, the B’s desperately needed to take advantage of that early man advantage, and they showed no urgency to even keep the puck in the Washington end and make Braden Holtby and a suspect Caps defense work to kill it off. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get the Bruins to play with urgency for an entire game, but until then this is a frustrating team to watch live (or at home).
Other than the first line, more guys need to be noticeable, although there is chemistry forming with Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork: I don’t fault coach Bruce Cassidy for putting David Pastrnak on the first line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, because those three guys clearly work extremely well together and are the three best offensive players on the team. But the B’s can’t win games when they are getting little to no production out of the other nine forwards in their lineup. The Bruins had 33 shots on goal, and the trio of Bergeron-Marchand-Pastrnak combined for 15 shots. Looking at the lineup, which is riddled with injuries, rookies, and guys getting more playing time than expected, there really isn’t many offensive weapons, but this team needs players to step up to take some pressure off of the top line (or allow Cassidy to split them up). Judging by the stat lines, it wouldn’t look like Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen played particularly well, but seeing them in person showed me that they could be two guys that deserve to be bumped up to the second line. They were setting each other up, working well without the puck (which is another thing that’s not evident on TV), and Heinen in particular has been really impressive in his second stint with Boston. It may be time to move Pastrnak down to the second line and let him play with either Bjork or Heinen to try to spark some more offense.
Torey Krug should not be playing 25 minutes a game – in fact if they had another healthy defenseman Torey Krug shouldn’t be playing at all: Krug may have had two assists in Saturday’s game, but those two plays were the only highlights from what was another brutal performance. I have NO IDEA why he led the team in ice time, and WHY THE HELL he was on the ice for nearly six power play minutes, but this needs to stop immediately. He is TERRIBLE. There’s no other way to put it. The turnovers, the awful passes, the fact that he’s a defenseman with ZERO hits, the amount of times he was out of position… just everything was bad. We all know that he’s out there for his offense and isn’t the biggest body on defense, but he’s got to at least resemble an NHL defenseman either by hitting someone or just getting back and being in the right position. You could see at the end of a couple shifts in the third period just how frustrated and angry he was, but trust me that pales in comparison to how the fans in the crowd felt. At this point I wouldn’t be opposed to the Bruins bringing up a defenseman from Providence for a game or two and letting Krug watch from the rafters. I mean whoever they bring up can’t be as brutal as Krug is right now can they?
Matt Beleskey deserves more ice time (and regular starts): If more players had the urgency and the will to succeed as Beleskey does right now, the B’s wouldn’t be a .500 team that frustrates the hell out of anyone that is watching them. I was really impressed by his play on Saturday night. He was aggressive, he threw his body around, he was active, he had three shots on net (trailing only the first line trio and Krug) and yet he only played around 13 minutes. He is doing all the little things that should get him more ice time, and if it continues he needs to be on the ice even after some of the injured players return. God we need some of those players to return. Please. I’m begging. GET HEALTHY GUYS!
Tuukka Rask needs to be better: We need more out of Rask. I know that sounds redundant since there’s been several articles about his performance (or lack thereof) this season, but seeing it live made it even clearer. The Bruins just aren’t good enough right now to overcome an average goalie that allows soft goals on a regular basis. The first goal just shouldn’t happen. I mean Kevan Miller should have covered Tom Wilson, but from that angle the puck shouldn’t go in the net. The second goal really wasn’t Rask’s fault because the defense got out of position and somehow forgot about one of the most dynamic scorers in the league. The third goal would have been a tough save, but that’s one that he needs to make. The B’s were buzzing all period long, and they needed to be within a goal at the end of 40 minutes to have a shot. He did make a couple big stops, but there seems to be one or two goals per game that are questionable at best, and a top goalie should be able to carry his team during stretches of the season, especially when there seems to be new injuries popping up every day. Rask just hasn’t been that goalie this season, and he’s one of the more frustrating guys on an extremely frustrating team.
Even though the B’s are annoying to watch right now, I’d still HIGHLY recommend going to a game or two (or more) as soon as possible. It’s still a great atmosphere, there isn’t a bad seat in the building, there’s always a bit of crazy in the crowd (like the guys sitting next to us busting balls during the game… loved it!), and you can really tell just how big of a hockey town Boston really is. If only the Bruins brought the passion their fans did… fingers crossed they will the next time I see them live (hint hint Lauren get some more tickets!).
Written by: Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)