What we learned: Bruins don’t have depth to rely on late rallies
The 2015-16 Boston Bruins have proven that they are never out of any game with plenty of come-from-behind wins and late game heroics. Even when they don’t have their best game or lack energy, they can find a way to earn at least a point — as witnessed on their recent three-game road trip where despite some inconsistent play, they earned four of a possible six points.
On Monday though, the Bruins showed they don’t necessarily have enough depth and skill to always steal points, especially in their first game home after their west coast trip and without two of their regulars on defense in Colin Miller and Dennis Seidenberg. A tired looking Bruins squad tried to cut corners to hang with a fresh Predators team Monday leading to seven Nashville power plays — two of which the Predators converted on — and this time, there was no late rally as the Bruins fell to Nashville 3-2 at TD Garden. It was the first time in nine games the Bruins didn’t take home a point in the standings.
“There’s no doubt it has a certain element to tonight’s game, but at the same time, I think to overcome that stuff, you’ve got to be smarter, and I think we took a lot of penalties that just kind of gave them momentum, and then over-taxed a lot of our players,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said when asked how fatigue may have been a factor in the loss.
“So I think we needed to be smarter in that area. Again, the type of goals we gave [up] tonight, letting guys cut right to the net with the puck. We didn’t do a very good job there, but you’re looking at the clock, and you’re telling yourself if you can, at least, squeak out a point out of this game, and then who knows what can happen in overtime, and that’s what you’re looking for, that stage. Again, we took a penalty; I think maybe even two, in the third period, and we were never able to get our momentum again.
Defenseman Roman Josi scored the two Predators power play goals and forward Viktor Arvidsson scored the game-winner with 4:56 left in regulation. Bruins forward Louis Eriksson scored his tenth goal of the season on a second period power play, and defenseman Kevan Miller had the other Bruins goal.
With this reminder that the Bruins need more depth — specifically on the blue line — it will be interesting to see if general manager Don Sweeney can pull off a trade for a defenseman before the December 19 holiday roster freeze. Ironically an NHL team scout told Bruins Daily that Predators defenseman Seth Jones is available for the right price and plenty of scouts were at TD Garden Monday specifically to watch Jones.
“Not much bite there but big, mobile and skilled,” said the scout of Jones, who was taken fourth overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
The 21-year old Jones didn’t register a point Monday and now has a goal and nine assists in 27 games played this season. Jones is in the final year of his entry-level contract with a $925,000 cap hit.
Gustavsson gets the nod between the pipes — Jonas Gustavsson was back between the pipes for the Bruins after being pulled from his last start Friday in the 3-2 overtime loss at Calgary and redeemed himself rather nicely. Gustavsson faced plenty of rubber and stopped 30 of the Predators’ 33 shots on net. While he let in two power play goals and was completely deked out on the third Predators goal by Arvidsson, the Swedish netminder still helped kill five other Nashville power plays and kept the Bruins in the game. But despite the solid bounce-back performance, Gustavsson still wasn’t happy his team couldn’t get a win.
“You’re never happy when you’re not getting the win, but I felt pretty good overall, but you never leave the rink happy when you lose a game because winning is – that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “So, new day tomorrow and then we’ll go from there.”
Josi leads deep Predators blue line — Josi showed why he has in many ways surpassed Shea Weber as the Predators’ No.1 defenseman. Josi finished the game with two goals and now has 20 points this season. Obviously, if Weber is your No. 2 defenseman, you have a very deep blue line, and that was on display Monday as in addition to Josi’s two points, Weber had two helpers, and there were plenty of offensive chances generated from their defenseman. The Predators blue line has now accounted for 70 points this season.
“It’s definitely hard to defend because you know they always have their D’s joining when they’re coming in the zone, so you have to look behind your shoulders all the time, and they can make plays and passes out there too, so it’s definitely tough to defend,” Eriksson said of the Nashville defense.
Randell with TKO on Nystrom — Bruins forward Tyler Randell scored a TKO in a second period bout with Predators forward Eric Nystrom. Randell connected with some hard shots and knocked Nystrom to the ice. Nystrom stumbled as he tried to get up, skated to the bench and left for the dressing room (maybe the quiet room too) and did not return in the period. Thankfully he was OK and came back with some stitches and a visor in the third period.
McQuaid returns but Seidenberg, Hayes and Miller watch from above — Defenseman Adam McQuaid left the Bruins’ 4-0 win at Vancouver Saturday in the first period after taking a shot off his left hand and did not return. But McQuaid was in the lineup Monday and paired up with Torey Krug.
But while McQuaid returned, fellow blue-liner Seidenberg missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. Per a Bruins source, the injury is not serious and at this point the Bruins are just playing it safe with the 34-year old rugged rearguard who had back surgery before the season started and missed the first 14 games of the season. Miller (possible injury) was out for a second straight game as well and forward Jimmy Hayes was a healthy scratch. Hayes has one goal in his last 16 games and was also a healthy scratch at Vancouver.
The Bruins also lost forward Joonas Kemppainen early in the game to an undisclosed injury forcing Julien to have to juggle his forward lines as well.