The Boston Bruins entered Wednesday’s tilt in New Jersey with out their top-line centerman and most well-rounded defenseman.
At instances, the Bruins appeared out of kinds with out Pavel Zacha and Charlie McAvoy. But, towards the up-tempo Devils, Jim Mongtomery’s membership managed to go away Newark’s Prudential Middle with a degree.
A tough-nosed effort from Morgan Geekie in his promotion to the highest line and one other spherical of a number of well timed saves from Jeremy Swayman stored the Bruins afloat. The previous gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead after capping off a stellar shift with an incredible net-front effort to bury a rebound previous Vitek Vanecek late within the first. In the meantime, the latter confronted a number of high-danger possibilities following New Jersey’s sluggish begin.
Ultimately, the Devils’ quickness and skillset overwhelmed a shorthanded Boston bunch.
Dawson Mercer notched the equalizer simply 2:34 into the third to cap off a pinball sequence sprung by Erik Haula’s tip try and subsequent shot hitting the put up.
The Bruins earned their possibilities within the third, with Danton Heinen, James van Riemsdyk and Matt Poitras incomes second-effort bids throughout a shift late in regulation. Come additional time, nevertheless, the Bruins couldn’t discover any rhythm in any respect.
The Devils fired all seven pictures on web in the course of the 3-on-3 further session. New Jersey’s perseverance ultimately paid off as Jack Hughes, who earlier within the evening encountered a ‘friendly-fire’ collision along with his brother, Luke, notched the walk-off tally at 2:47 of additional time to cap off its ninth comeback victory of the season.
Right here’s what we realized from Boston’s 2-1 setback.
Geekie adjusts to his elevated position in Zacha’s absence.
The Bruins hit the one-third mark of their centennial season Wednesday evening. However as areas of their recreation proceed to evolve, Montgomery continues to make a number of in-game tweaks to his lineup.
Geekie discovered himself entrance and heart of one other spherical of Montgomery’s adjustments. On this evening, nevertheless, Zacha’s harm pressured Montgomery’s hand.
Regardless of his task, the previous Seattle Kraken heart shined towards the Devils.
Geekie started his evening in a top-six position with David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk. As the primary interval progressed, the Bruins transitioned Geekie right into a makeshift line with Heinen and van Riemsdyk shortly after their first try on the penalty kill.
The van Riemsdyk-Geekie-Heinen trio produced Boston’s lone tally on a prolonged attacking-zone shift. After profitable a puck battle alongside the nook, Geekie parked proper in entrance of Vanecek, burying van Riemsdyk’s preliminary shot try to finish the sequence.
“We gained a couple of battles down low and gained a couple of pucks,” Geekie advised reporters of his third purpose of the season. “We received a couple of massive our bodies on that line, so it was good to stir round a bit beneath the [goal] line and I received up prime proper in entrance of the online on the proper spot.”
Geekie ultimately returned to his unique spot between Pastrnak and DeBrusk. The trio had an lively evening, holding an 8-6 edge in pictures on web of their 11:33 time on ice throughout 5v5 play.
Specifically, Geekie’s reference to Pastrnak shined. Between Geekie’s puck possession and Pastrnak’s creativity, the 2 developed strong chemistry with each other of their first full recreation collectively.
“If you get to the NHL you don’t actually take into consideration that, but it surely’s a lot of enjoyable,” Geekie mentioned concerning his time with Pastrnak. “I’m not taking it as a right, so it’s tremendous particular for certain.”
Geekie’s time with Pastrnak will possible finish when Zacha returns. The previous Satan stays day-to-day after sustaining an upper-body harm throughout Boston’s 5-3 win over the Coyotes on Saturday.
The offensive scarcity put extra strain on Swayman.
The Bruins have sufficient high-end expertise up entrance to stay within the prime half of the league in common targets per recreation. However, as anticipated, they’ve encountered the rising pains with out Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.
In consequence, they relied closely on Linus Ullmark and Swayman to regular the ship. That development continued Wednesday as Swayman confronted 13 high-danger scoring bids towards the likes of Hughes, Mercer, Nico Hischier, Timo Meier and the remainder of a talented core of Devils forwards.
Swayman stored his staff afloat because the Devils discovered their skating legs following the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins didn’t lack in producing high quality appears to be like both, however they couldn’t get that pivotal second marker to assist alleviate Swayman.
“He’s been terrific all yr lengthy. Him and Linus, each of them have been terrific,” Montgomery mentioned to repoters about Boston’s dynamic goaltending tandem. “That’s why we’ve got the file we’ve got.”
Montgomery knew an uphill battle awaited with out Zacha and McAvoy. But, as Swayman backstopped his staff to a different level, the second-year Boston bench boss praised his staff’s aggressive spirit and not using a pair of pivotal cogs.
Boston’s effort was adequate for one level, but it surely labored by a stingy Devils counterattacking setup over the past 40-plus minutes.
“You are feeling it in essential moments, like particular groups, matchups and faceoffs a bit bit,” Montgomery mentioned. “Hear, you lose two guys within the lineup who play 20 minutes an evening, you’re going to really feel it. However I liked the best way we competed. I liked the blokes who received the additional minutes competed. I preferred the best way the blokes who had been inserted into the lineup competed. So there have been quite a lot of good issues that we preferred in regards to the recreation.”
Do the Bruins have the personnel to play to their identification?
It took a bit time for the Bruins to use an identification for his or her centennial season.
That they had an concept that they’d want Swayman and Ullmark to select up the place they left off early within the season. Additionally they knew they’d lean on Brad Marchand’s management, Pastrnak’s offensive skillset, and a structured defensive setup whereas a handful of arrivals adjusted to Boston’s tight-knit locker room tradition.
Over time, Montgomery discovered what he needed out of his group.
“Forechecking,” Montgomery mentioned of Boston’s identification, “and 5 guys working collectively at each purpose strains.”
With that philosophy in place, the Bruins now should ask themselves whether or not they have the personnel to carry out the blue-collar duties.
They’ve witnessed some newcomers alter accordingly, like van Riemsdyk, Geekie, and Heinen, a trio of discount bin signings who’ve offered the Bruins with secondary scoring. They’ve watched bottom-six facilities like Matthew Poitras and Johnny Beecher navigate the prototypical ups and downs of an NHL rookie season. Alongside the best way, Brandon Carlo is popping in one of many best stretches of his profession, offering a gradual shot-blocking and bodily presence as Boston’s again finish encountered accidents and a McAvoy suspension.
The Bruins may use extra scoring depth and an added bodily presence on the underside six between now and the March 8 commerce deadline. For now, with an identification established, Montgomery continues to sense some progress from inside.
“I believe we all know what the identification is in how we have to play,” Montgomery mentioned. “However [in terms of] individuals flourishing of their roles, we nonetheless have quite a lot of room for progress, which is what I believe is the thrilling a part of our staff.”
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