The Boston Bruins used Thursday’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a measuring stick.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad measured up well in certain areas against the high-octane Lightning, but Boston’s 4-3 shootout loss proved that there’s plenty of room for improvement.
“There’s parts of the game that were good. We started defending better as the game went on, not good enough in the first period. Leaky through the middle of the ice off the rush, stuff that we address, we’ll see that Saturday and Tuesday with Toronto,” Cassidy said following Boston’s second loss of the season.
“But five-on-five, a couple of goals there — we just need to be cleaner. Defending the rush. I think every goal — yeah, every goal came off the rush. I think our defensive zone coverage has always been good. Our guys are good with structure there, but it’s managing the puck in the neutral zone. On the breakouts, we were better I thought. And rush goals. It hurts.”
David Pastrnak isn’t hurting, however. He picked up where right he left off from his career day on Monday with a pair of power play goals three nights later. Patrice Bergeron added another man-advantage tally in the second period.
But the Lightning outplayed the Bruins following Bergeron’s second lamplighter of the young season.
Brayden Point — with 0.8 ticks left in the opening stanza — Mathieu Joseph and Kevin Shattenkirk all bested Tuukka Rask (33 saves) as the Lightning looked to seal their come from behind win in regulation. Pastrnak’s second of the evening late in the third forced overtime, but Tampa Bay secured the two points after Steven Stamkos notched the lone shootout tally.
Here’s what we learned from an entertaining tilt between the defending Eastern Conference Champions and reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners.
Lack of secondary scoring lingers into the new season
There’s no circling around this issue. The Bruins’ secondary scoring woes have carried over into the new campaign.
All three of Boston’s power play goals came from the top line. That won’t get the job done on many nights, especially against a top-caliber club like Tampa Bay.
“We win the game tonight if we get secondary scoring from anybody. I think we are stating the obvious stating that,” Cassidy stated. “Having said that, our record is pretty good without it but I don’t think it’s sustainable.”
He’s right. The Bruins simply can’t rely on the power play and the top line to carry the team every night.
The sky certainly isn’t falling — after all, the Bruins have taken points in six out of their seven games. But they need to find production somehow either through their current core of depth players in Boston or from others waiting in the wings in Providence, especially Anders Bjork.
David Pastrnak is a Hart Trophy candidate
Who else more fitting to score on national pasta day than David Pastrnak. It was written in the stars.
The talented 23-year-old netted his seventh and eighth goals of the season. Without him, the Bruins wouldn’t have come away with one point.
Pastrnak’s first of the night came after Bergeron set him up for his patented one-timer during Boston’s first power play.
His second of the evening came on a beautiful spin around shot that found its way into the top corner with just over three minutes left in regulation.
He’s making things look easy with an astonishing six goals in the last two games. Pastrnak sits tied for the NHL lead in goals (8) to go along with his team-leading 13 points.
The talented Czech made his first All-Star team in 2018-19. He’s on pace to surpass his career season a year ago (81 points in 66 games), which would only help his Hart Trophy chances.
“I’m feeling good on the ice,” Pastrnak said after his two-goal performance. “[I’m] just trying to do the best for the team and focusing on my hockey and how I can help this team.”
Pastrnak isn’t just helping his team in the first month of the season. He’s carrying them on his back.
The Bruins can play with anybody in the league
All things considered, this was a phenomenal game. Two heavyweights just slugging it out at TD Garden in their first of four regular-season tilts — and potentially more come playoff time.
The Bruins didn’t pick up the win, but they got something out of their effort. They showed that they can compete with the very best the league has to offer.
Yet, the Bruins haven’t strung together three strong periods of hockey and haven’t completely avoided the occasional lulls in play. They’ll continue to rack up points at a strong rate as long as they compile more 60-minute efforts.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.