Bruins Talking Points: Secondary Scoring and Puck Management

Saturday evening the Boston Bruins headed to Scotiabank Arena to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in their first meeting since the 2019 NHL Playoffs. It was slated to be one of the most exciting games of the season but ended up being a bit disappointing for Bruins fans as they fell 4-3 in overtime.

Related: 5 Takeaways From Maple Leafs OT Win Over Bruins

Fortunately, we were able to see some secondary scoring as Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored their first and second goals of the season respectively. However, the overtime loss is still fresh in the minds of Boston Bruins’ fans, especially as Bruins face the Maple Leafs again Tuesday evening in Boston.

Prestigious Player: Jake DeBrusk

Debrusk’s hard work finally paid off as he scored his first goal of the season Saturday night, late in the first period. He finished the game with five shots on goal and should have had more tallies on the scoresheet, had it not been for Frederik Andersen.

Jake DeBrusk; Morgan Rielly
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly and Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk battle for the puck (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

DeBrusk had a breakaway opportunity in the first period that was turned away by Andersen and then a power-play opportunity with a wide-open back door chance that he wasn’t able to convert.

“Jake was around the puck a lot and he could have had more than one if he’d had a little luck,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy. “It’s what we want to see even if the puck isn’t going in. It’s the maturity thing where you keep pushing and you keep doing the right things to get rewarded, and you saw that tonight. We know how he can get with the streakiness and the puck was finding him tonight. So maybe it’s one of those runs, so it’s good to see with him. “

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Putting the pressure on and generating opportunities is exactly what they need in order to generate more point production. The Bruins third and fourth lines should take note as the secondary scoring is still lacking from the bulk of the Bruins bottom-six.

Black Mark: Sean Kuraly and Puck Mismanagement

Throughout the first few games of the season, one of the issues we have seen consistently from the Bruins is puck mismanagement. Typically, this comes at the end of the period or, more frequently, throughout the entire second period. In Saturday night’s meeting, the Bruins had a rough first period that was littered with mistakes. There were a lot of dump and chase attempts that led to turnovers as well as defensive errors.

One of the bigger missteps of the night came from center Sean Kuraly when he gave up the go-ahead goal in the first. Instead of trying to clear the puck out of the zone, he skated with it in circles and inevitably gave it up. His play didn’t get any better in the second period after he caused another turnover that led to another scoring opportunity for the Maple Leafs. He ended the night with a minus-one, one shot on goal and two giveaways in 14:12 of ice time.

Sean Kuraly
Sean Kuraly (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

One thing that we have mentioned continuously this season is the lack of secondary scoring for the Bruins. In order for the team to have a fighting chance against teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Maple Leafs, they are going to need to see scoring from all four lines. Kuraly and the fourth line are going to have to step up their game if they plan on beating the Maple Leafs at home at the Garden on Tuesday night.

Honorable Mention: Frederik Andersen

Andersen was all but standing on his head against the Bruins as he faced 45 shots and stopped 42 of them. He provided a confidence boost to a team that has now won three of their last four matches – the win against Boston being their first victory against a strong team.

He was on top of his game and did what many other goalies have struggled to do – kept the Bruins top line off of the scoresheet (at least during even strength). Had it not been for his efforts, we would be looking at a much different score tilted in the opposite direction.

By the Numbers: Minus-2

With Joakim Nordstrom and David Krejci sidelined, David Backes was once again re-inserted in the lineup. Despite having an impressive pre-season, he has been lackluster during the regular season. While some may argue it’s the lack of game time that causes him to be inconsistent, the numbers speak for themselves.

Boston Bruins David Backes
Boston Bruins right wing David Backes (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

He had the lowest amount of time on ice registering 6:42 and only posted one shot on goal, a penalty for goalie interference that saw Andersen’s head ringing off of the crossbar and a minus-two rating. While he did manage to get credit for three hits against his opponents, those numbers provide another example of just how much the fourth line is struggling.

Quote of the Night:

“It’s kinda the culture of the group. It’s something we’re really good at and last year we did it a ton. We had some really exciting games last year, it’s good to see when we’re down one we come back, it’s emotional, we tie it up and then we give up the lead. That’s something  we’re going to have to look back, make sure we’re not doing that too often.”

Charlie McAvoy