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  • What we learned: Bruins’ comeback effort falls short in Columbus

    Post Game

    What we learned: Bruins’ comeback effort falls short in Columbus

    Tim Rosenthal December 28, 2016

    Down 3-0 against the red-hot Blue Jackets, the Bruins and their struggling offense appeared to be in for a long night against the hottest team in the National Hockey League. To their credit, the Bruins found a way to bounce back and tie things up against a team they had already beaten twice by a combined score of 11-5.

    Unfortunately for the Black and Gold, even as things were starting to gel, the first game of the post NHL-holiday break didn’t have the happy ending they were looking for. Even as they found their offensive stride, a case of missed assignments ultimately doomed the Bruins against the best team in the league.

    Here is what we learned as the Blue Jackets earned their 13th straight win with a 4-3 triumph over the B’s at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night.

    Defensive breakdowns lead to early deficit

    Although the defense has shown some improvements as they sit tied for 10th in goals allowed, Tuesday’s loss still shows that more stability is needed on the blue line.

    In two instances, the Bruins missed assignments leaving Tuukka Rask all alone with no one in sight. Those led to easy goals for Scott Hartnell in the first and Nick Foligno in the third (see the power play notes below). In two other sequences during the opening stanza, Seth Jones found time and space for a one-timer and Matt Calvert followed up on his own shot to give Columbus the 3-0 lead.

    On a night where they held the Blue Jackets to 22 shots on goal, bad habits came back to haunt the Black and Gold and put them in chase mode from the start.

    Second line carries the load

    As guys like David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron fight through dry spells – and in Bergeron’s case the worst offensive start statistically of his career – the Bruins are hoping to find some secondary scoring to stop the from bleeding offensively. They found a little spark from the second line on Tuesday night.

    The trio of David Krejci, David Backes and Ryan Spooner combined for five points combining for two of the three unanswered goals. Backes started the comeback effort midway through the first with his ninth of the season – and fourth against the Blue Jackets in three games – and Krejci evened things up following through on a Sergei Bobrovsky rebound late in the second period.

    Of their 40 shots on goal, 16 came from the aforementioned trio with Krejci’s eight leading all skaters. Whether this line remains intact during another roller coaster year is anyone’s guess. At the very least, they are getting more out from Krejci, Spooner and Backes since the line was reformed in South Florida.

    One powerful disparity comes in pivotal moment

    Numbers and statistics are an interesting conversation in sports. Sometimes their accurate, other teams they can be misleading.

    The disparities between the Blue Jackets and Bruins power play units is one discussion point that is quite accurate, and the biggest proof of that came in the third period.

    With the scored tied 3-3 and Colin Miller in the box for cross-checking, the Blue Jackets and their league-leading power play notched the go-ahead goal after Foligno found himself all alone in front of Rask and banking in the game-winner on the short side post after several attempts.

    On the other end, the 28th ranked Bruins’ power play had a chance to tie it up when Seth Jones served a minor for cross-checking with under five minutes left in regulation. But once again they had nothing to show for it as they burned an opportunity to tie things up again and get some confidence back with their man advantage unit.

    Instead of providing productivity, the Bruins’ man advantage has turned into a momentum killer more often than not in 2016-17. The same can’t be said for the Blue Jackets. The power play numbers (27.1 percent for Columbus compared to 13.5 percent for Boston) and naked eye prove that these are two teams trending in opposite directions near the midway point of the 2016-17 season.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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