The Boston Bruins (27-8-12, 66 points) complete their three-game road trip and finish off a set of back-to-back games when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets (22-16-8, 52 points). It is the second of three meetings on the season and the lone meeting in Ohio. Columbus took a 2-1 overtime decision at TD Garden on January 2nd.
Puck drop is set for 7:00 pm on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Shootout Struggles Continue
The Bruins are now 0-7 in shootouts this season. Monday night’s skills competition ended with Brad Marchand over-skating the puck as the Bruins fell 6-5. This came on the heels of the Bruins blowing a 5-2 lead. All around, it was a bad night for the Bruins.
“We’re having trouble scoring, whether we collect the puck or not. You’re not gonna win any shootouts if you don’t score,” Bruce Cassidy told the club’s official website. “You look at our record, I think that’s probably a much bigger factor than our goaltending in the shootout. We just don’t score. There’s a reason why we’re 0-7.”
Marchand knew right away that he made a big mistake in the fifth round. Although it wasn’t the sole reason the Bruins lost a point, it will be the most talked about moment from the game.
“I know that rule. If you touch it on a penalty shot, that’s your shot,” said Marchand. “It’s unfortunate. Tough way to lose on a play like that. But we’ve got to be better when we have the lead. Got to do a better job with that tomorrow.”
The Bruins last shootout victory came on February 20th, 2019 when they defeated the Vegas Golden Knights. David Backes had the shootout winner.
“I thought our goalie and D were not on the same page in terms of breakouts, in terms of net-front situations; so we really had no will to keep the puck out of the net on the last three goals and that’s just been a staple of our team for the last three years,” Cassidy began.
“So let’s hope that’s just a one-off because it was unprofessional the way we performed in front of our net there the last three goals. We just need to be better.”
Cassidy didn’t stop there either. He remained hot postgame when talking to the assembled media in Philadelphia. The coach once again displayed his displeasure with his team’s effort defensively.
“I don’t think they did anything different, they just funneled some pucks and we couldn’t keep it out of our net,” said Cassidy. “Talk about the goaltending, talk about our D in front of him – I think they can both take their share of the blame on some of those goals, especially the 4-on-4. We’ve got three different guys circling out of there. It’s inexcusable.”
Captain Zdeno Chara agreed with his coach’s assessment on the effort. Playing in his 1,000th game with the Bruins, Chara felt like the team let up after building an early lead.
“Our second period was not good enough. We kind of let up from the intensity and got away from our system. That’s something that if you don’t play a full 60 minutes that’s gonna affect your results. I think we’ve got to be a little harder and bear down in those situations. It’s not just the defense. We have five guys on the ice, we have to play as a unit, play together, and do a better job defending our lead.”
Red Hot Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are arguably the hottest team in the NHL right now. The Jackets went to the west coast and went 3-1-0 on a stretch that took them to Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose and Las Vegas. That pushed the Blue Jackets to 11-2-4 in their last 17 games. This stretch has them just two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
No one expected this team to compete for the playoffs after what they lost in the off-season. In fact, if you believe coach John Tortorella, they still aren’t thinking about the postseason.
“It’s not about the playoffs for me right now,” Tortorella told the club’s website on Monday. “I’m not looking at five games (before the break). I’m looking at tomorrow night’s game against a very good Boston team. The way I’m looking at it, I want our road trip to stand up by finding a way to come home and win your first home game.”
The Jackets are hoping to parlay their recent road trip into success at Nationwide Arena. The goal, in the words of franchise face Seth Jones, is to reward the fans with some victories in Ohio.
“It’s nice we’re at home now from a pretty good trip, and hopefully we can win some games in front of our fans.”
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Anders Bjork
Danton Heinen – Charlie Coyle – Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
John Moore – Steven Kampfer
Bruins lines are subject to change. Cassidy spoke with the media earlier this afternoon and confirmed that Rask will get the start after Jaroslav Halak played last night. Cassidy also told reporters that Steven Kampfer will replace Matt Grzelcyk in the lineup. He confirmed that this was a coach’s decision and has nothing to do with the injury Grzelcyk suffered on Saturday in Brooklyn.
Columbus Blue Jackets Lines
Gustav Nyquist – Boone Jenner – Nick Foligno
Emil Bemstrom – Pierre-Luc Dubois – Sonny Milano
Nathan Gerbe – Alexander Wennberg – Kevin Stenlund
Jakob Lilja – Riley Nash – Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski – Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov – David Savard
Scott Harrington – Markus Nutivaara
Cam Atkinson (ankle), Ryan Murray (upper-body), Andrew Peeke (finger), Brandon Dubinsky (wrist) and Joonas Korpisalo (knee) all remain on injured reserve and will not play tonight. The Blue Jackets are hopeful that Atkinson and Dubinsky will return to action soon. Korpisalo, meanwhile, is out until at least mid-February.