What we learned: The first stinker under Cassidy
As well as the Bruins have played since Bruce Cassidy took over, they were eventually going to have a stinker.
That stinker just so happened to come against the Edmonton Oilers in their final game of their swing through Western Canada.
Fresh off snapping the Flames’ 10-game winning streak and playing their third game in four nights, the Black and Gold battled sloppy play and fatigue all night long. From the defense struggling to clear the puck and leaving both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin out to dry to the frequent trips to the penalty box, the Bruins’ self-inflicted wounds haunted them throughout their 7-4 loss to the Oilers.
Here is what we learned as the B’s suffered their fourth – and worst – loss of the Cassidy era.
A new Bruins killer
Patrick Maroon’s hat trick the first time these two teams met back in January sparked the Oilers to a 4-3 victory at TD Garden. More than two months later, Maroon picked up right where he left off.
Scoring the first two goals of the game, Maroon notched his fifth goal in two games against the B’s in 2016-17. That accounts for nearly 50 percent of the Oilers offense in the two meetings this season.
Not only did Maroon do damage on the scoresheet, but his physical play set the tone against a fatigued Bruins squad that was fresh off an ugly, but impressive win in Calgary the night before.
The only thing missing from Maroon’s night was an assist to cap off a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. The Bruins are thankful that they only have to face Maroon and the rest of the Oilers only two times per season.
Hard to blame Rask or Khudobin
Maybe Rask or Khudobin could have made a big save or two to keep the Bruins within striking distance on a night where both teams were a little sloppy. For the most part, the B’s netminders were left hanging by their fellow blue-liners.
Whether it was sloppy turnovers in their own end or getting frequently beat to the puck in the slot, the Bruins D simply could not get out of their own way on Thursday night. Against a highly-skilled team like the Oilers, the last thing the Bruins needed were self-inflicted wounds.
With three weeks left in the regular season, those mistakes are definitely something they need to clean up. Thankfully for Cassidy and company, they have until Monday to do just that.
Marchand vs. McDavid takes center stage
Anytime two Hart Trophy candidates take the ice against each other is usually grounds for some entertaining hockey. The game itself might have been messy, but Brad Marchand and Connor McDavid continued to show why they are two of the leading candidates to be this year’s MVP in the National Hockey League.
Entering the game, the two were tied with Patrick Kane for the league lead in points with 76. Kane earned one point in Ottawa during the Blackhawks’ 2-1 win over the Senators. McDavid and Marchand surpassed Kane with each notching three points in Edmonton.
With his 37th of the season coming in the first period, Marchand matched his career high in goals that he set a season ago. The seventh-year Bruin extended his lead to two over Sidney Crosby for the league lead in goals. Being the league-leader in one major offensive category and a co-leader in another makes a pretty good case for Marchand winning the Hart Trophy assuming he continues his scoring tear in the last three weeks of the regular season.
Not all was lost for the Bruins’ playoff picture
They may not have helped their own cause in the race for the postseason, but the Bruins got some outside help on Thursday night.
Helped by the Maple Leafs downing the Lightning and the Islanders losing to the Jets, the B’s keep a proverbial two possession lead on the three teams currently fighting for the final wild card spot. Additionally, the Blackhawks’ win over the Senators kept the Bruins three points in back of Ottawa for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Sens and Canadiens face off in a home and home this weekend as the two teams are currently separated by one point for the top spot in the Atlantic.
The Bruins will be scoreboard watching until Monday’s contest with the Maple Leafs in Toronto. A Leafs win over the Blackhawks would put them two points behind the Black and Gold before the two teams meet for the fourth and final time in the regular season.