BOSTON – Here are all the Talking Points from the Boston Bruins 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night at TD Garden in their preseason finale.
GOLD STAR: Charlie Coyle couldn’t have looked better, healthier and more the embodiment of his speed/power combination than he did on Wednesday in his first exhibition game appearance. Coyle scored the game’s first goal just a few minutes into the game, finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 rating in 16:40 of ice time, three shots on net, one hit, two takeaways and won 9-of-11 faceoff wins while centering Taylor Hall and Craig Smith for the first time in the preseason. The best news, beyond the production, was that Coyle looked free and easy with his powerful skating stride and was making plays in all zones while pushing the pace. Clearly Jack Studnicka had a great camp and looks like he’s an NHL-ready player these days, but Coyle showed with his return that he’s ready to give it his best shot as the No. 2 center for the Black and Gold.
BLACK EYE: It was another very quiet game for Trent Frederic, who finished with a shot on net and a hit in 11 minutes and was on the ice for a goal against as the Boston Bruins fourth line still very much looks like a work-in-progress. Frederic had played a couple of solid games in a row and threw his weight around in Monday night’s preseason tilt in Philly, but on Wednesday he was mostly invisible against a Washington Capitals team where he’s mad multiple run-ins before. Frederic will need to be a lot more noticeable and truculent in these kinds of games if he wants to remain in the lineup as playtime in the preseason is now over. Perhaps it will be easier for Frederic to ratchet up the emotion once the regular season gets going, but for now he’s been way too inconsistent during the preseason.
TURNING POINT: The turning point really came in overtime when Boston’s best players just completely lost control of puck possession, and it turned into a 2-on-1 odd-man rush with Anthony Mantha patiently waiting out Linus Ullmark before beating him five-hole. It was Charlie McAvoy, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the ice when this happened in OT, and both Marchand and Bergeron were caught up ice leaving Charlie McAvoy hanging out to dry. Of concern was that Ullmark was beaten several times through the five hole with goals during the game, and then was similarly beaten five hole during the practice shootout afterward as well.
HONORABLE MENTION: Evgeny Kuznetsov had it going on for the Capitals as he scored Washington’s first goal by banging home the rebound of an Alex Ovechkin shot from the slot. Kuznetsov also threw a lead pass to Tom Wilson for a partial breakaway where the Capitals power forward was able to push a backhanded bid through Linus Ullmark’s five hole. Kuznetsov finished with a goal, two points, a plus-1 rating in 21:27 of ice time, four shots on net, six shot attempts and won 7-of-12 draws from the center position. There were several Capitals players that had good nights aside from Kuznetsov, but he was consistently around the net and creating offense for a Washington team that finished with four goals for their efforts.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 – the number of penalties called on the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, including three cross-checking penalties as the refs continue to put an emphasis on cross-checking calls.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “He just needs to tighten up. Some pucks were finding their way through, and for a big man that’s a challenge. Some of the pucks are finding their way through against him and he’ll have to work on that. But we weren’t at times very [good], so you can’t put that on the goalie. I think he was better (tonight), and he’s just going to need more reps.” –Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy on Linus Ullmark, who stopped 26-of-30 shots in the loss to the Sabres.