Bruins - Penguins analysis: Need more from defense

Bruins - Penguins analysis: Need more from defense
October 31, 2013, 9:45 am
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Here’s a few more developed thoughts on the Bruins 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center that was ridiculously, and appropriately, overshadowed by the Red Sox clinching their third World Series title in the last 10 years with a Game 6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals art Fenway Park.

1) It was a tough night for some of the secondary Bruins defenseman against a very good Pittsburgh Penguins offense. They did manage to keep both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby from lighting the lamp, and held them to one Crosby assist on a first period power play for Pittsburgh. But there were some definite issues: Johnny Boychuk finished as a minus-2 on the night, and uncorked an awful outlet pass in the third period that was intercepted by Jussi Jokinen and quickly transformed into the game-winning goal for Pittsburgh. Dennis Seidenberg got caught sleeping in the first period while allowing Malkin to sneak behind him for a partial breakaway shot, and Torey Krug was torched a couple of times in the defensive zone by Pittsburgh attackers. It was Krug was beaten as the last line of Bruins defense on a Brandon Sutter goal that also needed a very heady pass from Pascal Dupuis in order to make it happen. But there’s little doubting that some of the “soft” comments Claude Julien made after the game were about the Bruins defensemen corps.

“More than anything else, we didn’t play to our heavy game tonight for two periods," Julien said. "When we did in the third at least, we gave ourselves a chance to get back into the game. We had to play three periods of a heavier game, and that didn’t happen,” said Claude Julien. “As players and as a team you need to take responsibility. We built our team a certain way of being big and strong along the board, and winning battles. That wasn’t the case tonight.

“They were determined, and for at least two periods they were the better team when it came to that. We can all look in the mirror, and say that we can play better than that. We need to look in the mirror, and stay playing a little more to what our identity is . . . and take some pride in it.”

2) Good to see Jordan Caron drop the gloves with big Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo in the third period while trying to spark his Bruins teammates. The B’s third line was a virtual non-factor with only three shots on net and a goal against, and Carl Soderberg played arguably his most invisible game of the year Wednesday night against the Penguins. So that line needed someone to step up and provide something positive, and Caron did that with a little emotion while dropping the gloves with Bortuzzo right off the face-off. It wasn’t going to win many style points for prize fighting as there were only a couple of punches landed – including one strong, straight right-handed shot by Caron to Bortuzzo’s face – but it’s a work in progress for Caron. It was his first NHL fight and only his fourth fight all-time counting QMJHL, the AHL and the NHL. It’s a reality for Caron, however, for life as a bottom six forward that he will need to provide grit, toughness, emotion and energy, and not continue to live the life of a former first round pick hoping for a top-six spot on an NHL club. Caron is starting to understand it all, and that will help him stick around in the NHL for a while.

3) Brad Marchand did pick up an assist on Patrice Bergeron’s redirected score on a Dennis Seidenberg point shot, and that helper was the result of taking a hit to make a play. That’s something always to be admired. But Marchand also finished without a single shot on net, a single hit or a single takeaway while still looking a little slow and unsteady on his skates. He just doesn’t look like he’s skating with the same rapidity and Fred Flintstone happy feet, and appears very slow on the ice while getting knocked off the puck a little too easily. The most notable play aside from the assist was a strange collision with Kris Letang where both players went off to the penalty box. Letang essentially jumped over Marchand as he leaned to make hip contact, and went tumbling to the ice. Marchand was called for slashing, and Letang was called for a dive in a play where the Pittsburgh defenseman was definitely looking to earn his team a power play. Meanwhile, the Big Swede didn’t do much of anything in 11:39 of ice time with a third line that wasn’t much of a factor against the Penguins. That’s two straight very quiet games from Soderberg after a pretty decent start to the season, and puts him together with Marchand in the “needs improvement” category.

4) Wednesday night’s game is exactly the kind of performance that Patrice Bergeron will want to retain the highlights of for his Selke Trophy argument at the end of the season. Not only did Bergeron open Boston’s scoring by redirecting a Dennis Seidenberg point shot for a goal, but he also set up Jarome Iginla’s third period goal by flatly beating Sidney Crosby in the offensive face-off circle. Bergeron finished with 13-of-20 face-off wins and was the most dominant individual force among the players for either Eastern Conference power. It was hard to find fault with it, and Bergeron did just about everything after taking a slap shot to the arm in the first period that definitely stung the B’s alternate captain.