|Patriots 2014-15 Position Review: Linebacker||Lackluster Trio of Games Makes Bruins Playoff Chances Uncertain||Swihart, Rodriguez Assigned to Triple-A Pawtucket Roster||Video: Marcus Smart Uppercuts Matt Bonner in Low Blow|
Week 2 of the Bruins’ season is now in the books and it wasn’t a great time along the way. Two weeks in the books and only two wins to show for it isn’t the way you want to start your Stanley Cup defense and, after last weeks 1-2-0 record, it’s beginning to be clear what’s working and what isn’t.
The Bruins started last week off dropping a 1-0 matinee decision to the visiting Colorado Avalanche with Tuukka Rask in net, leaving the B’s winless against the Avs at home since 1998. Two nights later, Boston dropped their road opener to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2, the most goals they have allowed thus far. Closing out the week visiting the Blackhawks, the Bruins notched a 3-2 shootout victory to give head coach Claude Julien his 300th career win (300-189-10-69).
Claude Julien’s landmark victory over the Blackhawks was secured by sophomore center Tyler Seguin, who scored the only goal in the shootout. In five games, he leads the team with five points (1-4-5), certainly meeting, if not exceeding expectations. With David Krejci out for the near future with a core injury, Seguin will continue anchoring the first line, where wingers Nathan Horton, who, being limited to five shots on the season, doubled his season point total with his first goal of the season against Chicago, and Milan Lucic, with only one assist and 12 shots in five games, are colder than the ice they’re skating on. Hopefully the first goal was the hurdle for Horton and will keep the Garden faithful hearing “Woo!”
The Bruins are 1-for-21 (4.8%) when they skate man-up, which isn’t the worst in the league thanks to the Columbus Blue Jackets (1-for-25), New York Rangers (0-for-12), Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets (both 0-for-13). The good news is that their penalty kill is strong as always, at 89.5% (17-for-19), good for seventh place in the league. The power play/penalty kill disparity is a neat little parallel for the entire Bruins team as a whole: looking for offense, relying on defense. In all three losses, they lost by only a goal and they hold a +1 goal differential despite being 2-3-0. It’s no different from last season, which isn’t so bad, but it would reduce a lot of stress in the Hub if we could get a few PPG’s.
Zdeno Chara (13 shots) and Dennis Seidenburg (18 (!!!) shots) still have 0 points. Johnny Boychuk, Joe Corvo and Adam McQuaid (who only played in three games before injury) have two points each, while Andrew Ference has one helper. No defenseman has a goal this season. Is this a reason they’re under .500? No. Is it a concerning statistic? Yes.
Tuesday, October 18 vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m.
Hopefully the Bruins can get one back from the Hurricanes, whom they lost to last week. After beating the Bruins, the Canes visited Buffalo, where they notched a 3-2 win over the Sabres. While a two-game winning streak might be insignificant, Carolina’s penalty kill is perfect (11-for-11) and things seems to be moving in a positive direction for the visitors from Raleigh. Sophomore Jeff Skinner (2-4-6 points in five games) is everything he was expected to be and Cam Ward, well, continues to be Cam Ward.
Thursday, October 20 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m.
TML. WTF. The Maple Leafs are 3-0-0 to start the season and – please sit down so you don’t fall over – lead the league in goals per game with 3.7. Phil Kessel- yes, the one and only Phil Kessel – has half of the team’s 10 goals and a +7! How did Ron Wilson get him to play defense?!?! His eight points lead the league (tie with John Tavares and David Legwand), as do his five goals (tie with Tavares and James Neal). Toronto is finally generating results that they should given their line-up, with Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Dion Phaneuf, and Luke Schenn playing well. Toronto might have just turned a new leaf this season.
Saturday, October 21 vs. San Jose Sharks, 7 p.m.
Speaking of Ron Wilson, his former team, the one he (nor anyone else for that matter) has been able to garner postseason success from, visits Boston on Saturday in the teams’ only match-up of the season. Despite having the best power play in the league (4-for-12, 33.3%), the Sharks are 1-2-0, beating the soon-to-be-leaving-Phoenix Coyotes before back-to-back losses to the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues. The Boston Bruins are the second stop of a six-game road trip the Sharks have to end the month of October and will be a crucial tone-setter for the season. The jury is still very much out on which Sharks team is on the ice this season.
Prediction: wins over the Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, loss to the Sharks
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, this year’s first overall draft pick, earned his first career hat trick as his Edmonton Oilers lost 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks… The new-look Philadelphia Flyers suffered their first loss (in overtime) of the season, leaving Toronto (3-0-0), Detroit, and Washington (both 4-0-0) the only undefeated teams left in the league. The Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, and Winnipeg Jets have all yet to win a game, while Winnipeg is the only team yet to record a point. They must love playing in the Southeast Division.