It wasn’t pretty, but after fielding questions about their work ethic, maybe that’s half the point. The Boston Bruins gutted out a 2-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, washing away some of the distaste after getting blown out in back-to-back games.
The win may or may not have come at a cost, though, depending upon how injured (or not) Brad Marchand really is.
Head coach Claude Julien seemed quite vague about it, as CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports.
/Pictures a gloomy world in which teams shift from upper or lower-body descriptions to out two weeks with “being less than 100 percent.”
Again, it wasn’t the prettiest effort, as one could argue that the Hurricanes may have matched or exceeded Boston’s efforts:
(Even-strength graph via Natural Stat Trick)
However you spin it, the Bruins have now won seven of their last nine games, which makes for a friendlier narrative than “losing two straight games while being outscored 11-2.”
Maybe most promisingly, Tuukka Rask looked awfully sharp and Milan Lucic drew some strong reviews from Haggerty.
Perhaps this something to build on, even if it arguably wasn’t the all-out effort Boston would have most preferred?
The Carolina Hurricanes have been playing better as their general health has improved, but they’ll be missing some pieces against the Boston Bruins this afternoon. Alexander Semin and Jay Harrison can’t play against Boston, according to Michael Smith of the team website.
Semin, 30, is dealing with an upper-body injury. It’s been a rough season for the Russian winger, although he was showing signs of improvement with a recent three-game assist streak. He’s often been labeled “injury prone,” so there’s the concern that this could be an issue that lingers.
Harrison, 32, is averaging 18:08 minutes per game this season, up from 16:38 per contest in 2013-14. He has three points in 13 games in 2014-15.
One positive note: rising young forward Elias Lindholm will be able to play, according to Smith. There was some concern that the 19-year-old might miss today’s action with a foot issue.
One can throw around a lot of different words to describe the Boston Bruins’ bumpy start to the season. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty uses perhaps the most provocative one: soft.
The word appears in his column six different times.
Haggerty writes that “you can call the Bruins a mostly soft hockey team and you wouldn’t be wrong on most nights.” He calls out the play of specific combinations like the Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith line and even has this to say about Boston’s defense:
Their defense is almost the Black and Gold version of a Twinkie: looks pretty good on the outside but has a soft, cream filling in the middle that’s pretty unhealthy.
Here’s video from Haggerty and CSNNE.com:
Many will point out that hits are a stat that aren’t always compiled consistently, yet it’s interesting to note that the Bruins have delivered 389 hits and received 443 so far this season, the eighth worst “hit percentage” so far in 2014-15. The Bruins were in the middle of the pack in this somewhat random stat in 2013-14.
That could be a troubling sign … or it could indicate that the Bruins have possessed the puck more often than not, opening the door to receive more hits (they’re ranked ninth in Fenwick stats, for what it’s worth).
Is this perceived drop in physicality something the Bruins should be concerned about? Milan Lucic told CSNNE.com that they could probably increase the intensity a bit.
“We’re a team that thrives on playing with emotion, and maybe we needed to play with a little more emotion, and a little more bang,” Lucic said. “It wasn’t there [against Montreal]. You can talk about scoring only two goals in two games, but the reason we’ve only scored two goals is because we’re not taking care of things in the defensive zone.”
The Bruins get a chance to assert themselves in a home game against the Carolina Hurricanes this afternoon.
Boston Bruins forward Matt Fraser was wobbly following a fight with Habs Nathan Beaulieu. Fraser appeared to hit his head on the ice and needed help getting the Bruins’ dressing room.
Fraser isn’t the first Bruin to be injured in a fight this season. Kevan Miller is still out after dislocating his shoulder in a fight on Oct. 18.
Beaulieu was also feeling the effects of the fight icing his right hand in the penalty box.
After stinking up the joint against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins are searching for answers. Even their official Twitter feed admits as much.
As much as the answers must come from within, perhaps a fresh face from the AHL might help? The team recalled forward Alexander Khokhlachev this morning, according to various sources including TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.
The 21-year-old seemed to land in quite a few trade rumors over the years, including seemingly being involved in the Jarome Iginla swap that didn’t happen.
He’s certainly been making a case for a look with the big club, at least if his numbers with the AHL’s Providence Bruins are any indication. The 40th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft has five goals and 11 points in 12 AHL games so far this season. He was productive in 2013-14 as well, scoring 57 points in 65 regular season games and 14 points in 12 AHL playoff games.
As far as who he might replace in the Bruins lineup considering the quick turnaround against Montreal tonight after that throttling via Toronto on Wednesday, CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty is disturbed by the array of choices:
It’s easy to see why the Bruins are frustrated with last night’s poor performance, yet they brought a five-game winning streak into Wednesday’s meltdown. They can prove that loss to the Maple Leafs was a mere hiccup by beating the hated Habs, and perhaps Khokhlachev could even contribute to that cause.
Here’s one guess regarding how he might fit in: