Five thoughts: P-Bruins vs. Connecticut Whale

899625.jpg

Five thoughts: P-Bruins vs. Connecticut Whale

HARTFORD, CT -- Here are five thoughts from the first period of the P-Bruins and the Connecticut Whale with both teams tied at 1-1 after the first 20 minutes at the XL Center.

1) Ryan Bourque is winning the brotherly battle after taking the first goal of the game for the Whale to tie things up at one apiece. It was a pretty little play between Chris Kreider and Bourque to set things up, and showed the kind of firepower that some AHL teams are boasting this season during the lockout. It was a nifty move by former Boston CollegePhillips Andover stud Kreider to set it all up.

2) Providence's lone goal came on a Jamie Tardif tipped puck of Kyle MacKinnon shot, and underscores the quietly solid job Tardif has done for the P-Bruins as another calming veteran presence alongside Trent Whitfield and Chris Bourque.

3) Less than great period for Mike Hutchinson as the P-Bruins and Whale were tied at 1-1 despite outshooting Connecticut by a 12-6 margin. A Ryan Bourque shot off the post was all that kept it from being even worse, though Providence was robbed of a goal that appeared over the goal line before the refs whistled it off. P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game he was told by the referees that instant replay wasn't working in the Hartford barn on Saturday night.

4) Colby Cohen picked up the helper on Tardif's goal and had a solid first 20 minutes. Cohen has been quiet among the P-Bruins defensemen this far in three games, but appears to be turning a corner as he's gotten involved offensively. He'll have to keep standing out as Cassidy has plenty of viable defensemen options if any of his blueliners are struggling.

5) Jared Knight still battling through that balky hamstringgroin, and has only played in two of Providence's first five games.

SECOND PERIOD

HARTFORD, CT -- Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Providence Bruins trailing the Connecticut Whale by a 5-2 score after 40 minutes at the XL Center.

1) Whale players Chris Kreider, Ryan Bourque and Logan Pyett had been largely kept under wraps early in the season, but the exploded all over the P-Bruins in the second period. P-Bruins have done a good job of keeping Connecticut's big producers off the board, the other forwards are killing them.

2) Michael Hutchinson was pulled after giving up four goals midway through the second period, and Niklas Svedberg was promptly greeted with Tommy Grant score that it 5-1. While it wasn't all of Hutchinson's fault tonight, Svedberg has shown much more early in this season for Providence despite suffering the loss to Springfield on Friday night.

3) Horrendous defense by Torey Krug and Colby Cohen on the Grant goal to make it 5-1. The Whale forward was completely uncovered by the Providence defense and it was a chip shot the flick a puck past Svedberg. It simply looked like a lapse in concentration for Providence, and has been one of several in the defensive end for Krug. He's a team-worst minus-6 on the season.

4) A great look by Chris Bourque on a slaps-pass across the ice to Jordan Caron for Providence's second goal of the game. Now the elder Bourque brother simply needs a goal tonight to be on equal bragging rights footing with younger brother Ryan after his first period score. Caron now has four goals on the season and holds a healthy lead for the P-Bruins in that category.

5) Providence will be on the PP to start the second on a delay of game penalty and could set themselves up for a comeback after Caron's goal gave them a little momentum at the end of the period.

THIRD PERIOD

HARTFORD, CT -- Here are five thoughts from the third period with the P-Bruins falling to the Connecticut Whale by a 6-3 score at the XL Center.

1) The P-Bruins aren't getting consistent production from their power play -- who would have ever thought we'd say that about a team in the Bruins organization, eh -- but they move the puck with ease, skill and precision when the Chris Bourque, Jordan Caron and Torey Krug unit is on the ice. They're fun to watch and they were 2-for-6 on Saturday night after going 0-for-5 the night before against Springfield. It's just a matter of consistency now.

2) Niklas Svedberg still having issues with playing the puck around his net. He went way outisde his net to corral a puck in the corner and threw it directly to Kris Newbury charging toward the net for an easy goal. The Swedish goalie has a lot of potential at stopping pucks, but he needs plenty of work when handling the puck.

3) Max Sauve with his third goal of the season in the third period after firing off a short side pass from a Craig Cunningham dish. That line has scored in 5 of Providence's six games this season. Sauve leads the P-Bruins with five points this year and is definitely doing his part.

4) Something feels so right hearing Brass Bonanza being played after every Whale goal here in Hartford. Would leave to see an NHL team back here in Connecticut someday.

5) Bobby Robbins with another fight for the P-Bruins tonight. I love that kid's spirit. He's dropped the gloves in just about every game for Providence and has tried to provide the emotional spark for the sub-.500 hockey club.

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

bruins-noel-acciari.jpg

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.