Extra Beats: Team Defense Disappears Again; Bruins Lose To BJ’s 5-4 In OT

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On Saturday, the Bruins played what they considered their most complete game of the season with a full 60-minute effort in a 3-0 win at Tampa Bay. On Monday however, it was back to the see-saw, fire-wagon, 80’s style hockey as the shutdown team defense they beat the Lightning with and the solid goaltending from Tuukka Rask (20 Saves) disappeared in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets who got their eighth straight win on a Cam Atkinson overtime winner 2:55 into the extra frame.

Thankfully for the Bruins though, their offense was clicking on all cylinders and they were able to salvage a point and are now three points behind the Bolts for the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference lead. An arguably bigger silver lining was the successful NHL debut of rookie Ryan Donato who scored his first NHL goal and added two assists for three points only 24 hours after signing a two-year entry level contract Sunday night.

Brad Marchand stayed hot adding a goal and an assist, Danton Heinen had two helpers and David Krejci and Riley Nash had a goal a piece.

Here’s your Extra Beats:

1.) Ryan Donato Shows Why Bruins Wasted No Time Signing Their Prized Rookie

Only 48 hours after Donato and his former teammates at Harvard dropped a 5-4 overtime heartbreaker to Clarkson in the ECAC semifinals, Donato was signing his entry level contract with the Bruins, and 24 hours after that, the son of former Bruin and current Harvard head coach Ted Donato, was playing like a veteran NHLer in his first game in the show. Donato scored his first NHL goal to tie the game at one 5:41 into the second period and then assisted on Riley Nash’s power play goal 16:32 into the second period and fed Krejci with a beautiful dish on the game-tying goal 11:50 into the third period. The rookie winger looked right at home and in his element all night, while also unleashing that lethal shot that helped him score 50 goals in 97 games during his three seasons at Harvard.

Here’s that aforementioned shot beating Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo:

 

And here’s that sweet pass to Krejci:

2.) Marchand Stays Hot But Also Stays In Ref’s Doghouse

It seems no matter how many times Brad Marchand proves he is an elite NHLer and goal scorer, he will remain in the collective doghouse of NHL referees. Marchand scored what NESN play-by-play man Jack Edwards best described as a “filthy goal” to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead 7:28 into the second period and also added an assist on Riley Nash’s goal.

Scoring 31 goals however doesn’t seem to be enough to shed his image of being a dirty player and thorn in the side of the men in stripes. Not once, but twice was Marchand interfered with on two breakaways in overtime and yet there were no calls on either obvious infraction. Yes, a good portion of this is self-inflicted as Marchand has been suspended and fined more than he’d like to remember, but should his team be prevented from winning due to his reputation?

3.) Krug Quietly Having One Heck Of A Season! 

After assisting on three goals in the win over Tampa Bay Saturday, defenseman Torey Krug assisted on Donato’s goal Monday and now has 39 helpers and a career-high 52 points. Krug is the first Bruins defenseman since hall of famer Ray Bourque (82 in 1995-96 and 50 in 1996-97) to amass 50 points or more in consecutive seasons. The 26-year old rearguard has been an offensive force this season and a key cog in the Bruins’ power play with four goals and 19 points on the man-advantage.

4.) Rask, Team Defense Need To Tighten Up

In the beginning of the season as they tried to find their groove and chemistry, the Bruins found themselves in a perfect storm of sloppy defense leading to odd-man rushes and Rask allowing goals he normally wouldn’t allow. They were admittedly out of sync and were paying for it in the standings. From November to mid-February though, Rask was once again the elite goalie he can be and the team defense was closing gaps and shutting down opposing offenses like they did in Tampa Bay Saturday. Over the last month though, that has not been the case and while they’re still finding ways to win or at least gain a point as they did Monday, the Bruins need to get back to the way they were playing during that torrid stretch from November to late mid-February. There won’t be many games like Monday’s in the playoffs and team defense and goaltending will be essential for this team to make a run.

5.) Beware The Injuries Of March

Already missing captain Zdeno Chara (undisclosed), forwards Patrice Bergeron (broken foot), Jake DeBrusk (concussion), Anders Bjork (shoulder) and David Backes (laceration on leg), the Bruins found out just prior to faceoff that forward Rick Nash (upper body injury) wouldn’t be able to play Monday, forcing them to recall forward Anton Blidh on an emergency basis. Then in the third period, rugged and oft-injured defenseman Adam McQuaid left the game with an undisclosed injury, forcing head coach Bruce Cassidy to double-shift his defense. Cassidy and the Bruins have done an amazing job of overcoming this recent rash of injuries but one has to wonder how long they can sustain success in spite of the growing Mash unit?

6.) Happy Birthday #4!

On Monday, Krug was racking up more assists and on Tuesday, one of the best passing and scoring defenseman there ever was, Bobby Orr turns 70. Happy Birthday to in the humble opinion of this hockey scribe, the best player there ever was, Robert Gordon Orr!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkvrc9y9MRo&t=46s