Three games in four days on the road is tough for any team. Throw in an overtime game, a shootout and a red-hot opponent on the second night of a back-to-back, that can test any team. Unfortunately for the Boston Bruins, it was a test they couldn’t pass.
What started out as a promising trip with an overtime win against the New York Islanders ended with frustration and some embarrassment. The Bruins dropped a shootout to the Philadelphia Flyers in bizarre fashion, before ending the trip by being shut out by the Columbus Blue Jackets and rookie goalie Elvis Merzlikins.
To add insult to injury, the B’s also lost their All-Star goalie Tuukka Rask to an injury in the opening minutes of the game. Here are three takeaways from Boston’s trip through three Metropolitan Division cities.
1. Rask Gets Injured
After having Monday night’s loss in Philadelphia off, Rask was injured just 1:12 into Tuesday night’s loss at the Blue Jackets. He was at the top of his crease when Columbus forward Emil Bemstrom skated in front of Rask and caught him in the head with his left fist. After being down on the ice, Rask made his way to the locker room and was ruled out of the game.
Jaroslav Halak replaced Rask and surrendered all three goals in the 3-0 loss. Rask on Monday announced that he was not going to participate in the All-Star Game in St. Louis in two weeks. With that announcement comes a one-game suspension that he will serve either against the Vegas Golden Knights before the break or against the Winnipeg Jets after the break.
Considering what occurred in Tuesday’s game, Rask might be out for more than one game going forward. If Rask ends up officially with a concussion, this will be the second one he has suffered in a year. The Bruins put him on injured reserve on Jan. 28, 2019 with a concussion he got against the Flyers.
2. Marchand Misses the Puck
Over the last six weeks, the Bruins seem to be finding new ways to lose games, from blowing multiple-goal leads in the third period, to overtime losses, to a pair of shootout losses. How could it possibly get any worse?
Well, just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, it did. It was ugly. Real ugly. Since the National Hockey League went to the 3-on-3 overtime and shootout format in the 2015-16 season, the league hasn’t seen an ending like this.
It’s been said before, but it can’t be said enough. If Brad Marchand is on your team, you love him. If he’s not on your team, you hate him. All the Marchand haters got their fulfillment of excitement Monday night in Philadelphia. After four scoreless rounds of the shootout, the Flyers’ Travis Konecny scored to begin the fifth round. Next up was Marchand, and all he needed to do was score on Philadelphia goalie Carter Hart to extend the shootout to a sixth round.
Easier said than done.
Marchand never made it into the Flyers zone, never mind making it anywhere near Hart. As he was making his move through the neutral zone to collect the puck off the center ice dot, Marchand’s stick went over the puck as he skated by it.
Just like that, the attempt was over and the Bruins fell to 0-7 in shootouts this season.
Shootouts have been decided by a goalie making a save. They have been decided by the shooter coming down and missing the net with his shot. They have been decided by the puck rolling off the stick of a shooter when they try to make a move on the goalie. They have never been decided, until Monday night, by the shooter missing the puck at the center ice dot.
It’s the icing on the Bruins cake as far as shootouts have gone this year.
3. Finally Some Secondary Scoring
Boston’s first line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Marchand have been carrying the Bruins offense this season. They have been waiting for the second, third and fourth lines to join them on the scoresheet. There were signs on this trip that the help might be finally coming.
Coach Bruce Cassidy moved Anders Bjork up to the second line on the right-wing with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. Against the Islanders, DeBrusk and defensemen John Moore scored before Bergeron’s overtime game-winner. Two nights later against the Flyers, Krejci scored two goals and Bjork added one from the second line, while Charlie Coyle potted one from the third line.
Moving forward, the key for the Bruins will be getting some scoring from their second and third lines. Look for general manager Don Sweeney to address the issue before the trade deadline or from down in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins. Four of the eight goals on the trip came from the secondary lines. It’s certainly a start in the right direction.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.