After the trade of Dougie Hamilton and the failure to bring in a top-four defenseman during the off-season, many questioned the talents of the Bruins defense.
As the Bruins kicked off the 2015-16 season last night, all eyes were on the blue-line. Already behind the eight ball due to injuries to Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the B’s defense faced an uphill battle Thursday night against the Jets.
After a solid opening 20-minutes, the wheels fell off and things got ugly quick for the Bruins. Ugly is also a perfect way to describe Matt Irwin’s debut in Boston.
Holding a 1-0 lead in the second period, Irwin found himself behind the Bruins net with the puck, surveying the ice. Before he knew what happened the puck was in the net behind Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask and just like that the game was tied at one.
“Yeah, basically, I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” Irwin said after making his Bruins debut.
“He [Andrew Ladd] got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. So I take full blame for that one.”
Ladd’s theft of the puck behind the Bruins net was just the beginning of a long night for Matt Irwin. Later in the period with the Bruins down by a goal and looking to tie the game, Irwin was caught out of position, which allowed Stafford to rotate into the open ice vacated by Irwin. Stafford had no difficulties firing the puck into the open net.
“That’s something I’m going to look at with the coaches, and adjust where I need to be,” said Irwin.
Adjust, something the Bruins defense, as a whole needs to do before Saturday’s contest with the Montreal Canadiens.
“Oh yeah. We’ll correct those tomorrow in practice. We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting,” Irwin said. “All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on, and get better every day.”
It’s unknown whether or not Chara will be a go for Saturday night, if he is, Irwin may be the odd man out after a rough start to things Thursday. If Irwin is indeed in the lineup, the veteran knows what he needs to do to get back on track and move on from Thursday’s troubles.
“For me personally, it’s just, get back, move pucks, and get it up to our forwards, and just stay on your toes, and make the good first pass,” Irwin added.
Irwin logged 14:17 of ice time and was a minus-three on the night. There’s no denying that Thursday’s 6-2 loss to the Jets was an overall ugly performance all-around and not just for Irwin. After a solid preseason for Irwin, he and the Bruins hope that Thursday’s performance was just a little speed bump in the road, otherwise it’s going to be a long season on Causeway Street.