The Boston Bruins have gone 1-1 in their last two games at home, losing a 4-2 match to the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night and then giving up a two-goal lead to the Columbus Blue Jackets but getting a 3-2 victory in the shootout.
The loss to the Canucks served as a good reminder about what currently ails the team, as Vancouver’s forecheck and play along the walls created turnovers and prevented Boston from getting much going on the breakout. When Boston did have offensive zone possession in that one, they had a tough time working the puck to the middle of the ice and goaltender Jacob Markstrom had a relatively easy night.
Against Columbus, the Bruins took a 2-0 lead, with the first goal coming from the newly-formed line of Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand-Ryan Spooner (on the RW). Whether that was an audition to try and see what life might look like if Loui Eriksson gets moved in the near future or just a hunch by Claude Julien, the unit looked pretty good, as the speed/skill combo of Marchand-Spooner with Bergeron’s high-end vision and smarts gave Columbus all they could handle.
When David Pastrnak scored his fifth of the season with David Krejci and Eriksson assisting at 3:34 into the second period, it looked like the B’s might run away with it. As has been the case in the TD Garden far too often this season, the visiting team came back and scored two goals (Dalton Prout and Nick Foligno) to knot the score at two goals apiece.
That opened the door for Spooner and Torey Krug to score shootout goals and secure the extra point for the B’s. Krug’s goal went top shelf as he cut across the grain- it’s a shame he’s only managed to find the back of the net three times (no goals in his last 20 games) this season, because the chances have certainly been there.
Night of Jonas
Tuukka Rask was originally supposed to start, but he was “not 100%” according to Julien, so Jonas Gustavsson stepped in and played well in making 31 saves. Gustavsson out dueled Joonas Korpisalo at the other end…he prevented B’s center Joonas Kemppainen from scoring any goals. All the while- winter storm Jonas did its work on the East Coast yesterday. Boston was spared the worst of the storm, which hit the Mid-Atlantic region hard and saw the postponement of several NHL games. Gustavsson played Prout’s band-angle shot poorly on the first goal he allowed and took ownership of the score afterwards, but more than made up for it in the final period when Columbus carried the play and generated some quality scoring chances that he all turned away. ‘Gus’ is now 9-3-1 in 14 games as the Boston backup. In contrast Niklas Svedberg had just 7 wins all of last season in 18 appearances, but interestingly enough- had a higher save percentage (.918 to .917).
It took some time for No. 63 to get going after he returned from his three-game suspension, but his 19 goals in 42 games leads the B’s. He’s not just scoring and using his speed, but he’s playing disruptive game, getting in on opposing puck carriers and pushing the pace every time he’s on the ice. It was interesting to see the way he and Spooner worked together Saturday night, as the Blue Jackets had a tough time containing their quickness and ability to handle the puck. I won’t jump to conclusions that the line combination was expressly rolled out to see if Spooner can handle duties as a top-two line forward on his off-wing in the event that Eriksson is moved before the trade deadline, but that strategy makes sense, and for one game at least, Marchand and Spooner looked like a good fit together.