Hits & Misses: Smith nets 20th goal of season

Hits & Misses: Smith nets 20th goal of season
April 9, 2014, 1:00 am
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Here are a few hits and misses from the Bruins 4-3 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild at the Excel Energy Center.

HITS
- Reilly Smith scored first for the Bruins, and was heavily involved in Boston’s second goal as a suffocating, tireless fore-check from Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Smith produced the Bergeron score. Smith finished with a couple of shot attempts and the goal along with a plus-1 in 18:25 of ice time, and was certainly in the middle of the action early in the game. Smith also could have had even more offense, but couldn’t cleanly receive a couple of passes that would have freed him up for two different scoring opportunities. But it was a reminder to Smith that he’s got game as the playoffs approach, and it gave him his 20th goal of the season in his first full NHL campaign.

- Tuukka Rask stood on his head with six saves in overtime, and carried a flagging Bruins team through the extra session for falling in the shootout. The save robbing Matt Moulson from point blank range in OT was playoff level goaltending from the Finnish netminder.

- Patrice Bergeron had eight shots on net and 11 shot attempts along with his first period goal, and has a career-high 12-game point streak going on as he’s caught fire offensively to end the season. He also scored his 29th goal of the season, and looks to be primed for the second 30-goal season of his career, and the first since returning from a potentially career-ending concussion back in 2007-08.

- The sight of Shawn Thornton dropping to the ice to block a shot late in the third period while the Bruins were nursing a one-goal lead was a good reminder that the Bruins are taking these final regular season games seriously.

- Loui Eriksson scored his ninth goal of the season on a tipped Zdeno Chara wrist shot, and continues to find all kinds of offense by simply playing a strong game right in front of the net. That style of offense won’t be going into any slumps during the playoffs. The 22:29 of ice time for Eriksson was among the highest on Tuesday night along with Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton and Carl Soderberg.

- Torey Krug showed some versatility by playing the wing on the fourth line through the first couple of periods in limited duty, and then moved back to his natural defenseman spot for the final period. That’s something to keep an eye on in the playoffs should injuries become a problem among the top 12 forwards at any point in the next couple of months.

- Two power play goals for the Bruins against the 26th ranked penalty kill unit for the Minnesota Wild is exactly what Claude Julien wants to see in jumping all over another team’s weakness.

 

MISSES

- It appeared to these eyes like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron might have been a little too overexcited about the chance for an empty net goal in the final minutes of the third period. There was way too much aggression in the offensive zone and the neutral zone with the pulled goalie, and with less than 90 seconds remaining in the game. The overzealousness created a bit of chaos in the defensive zone leading up to Ryan Suter’s game-tying goal, and eventually led to the Bruins falling to the Wild in the shootout. The Bruins have shown a propensity to allow goals in the final few minutes of periods this season, and that trend will destroy them if it happens in the playoffs. The B’s need to tighten that up before it becomes a real issue for them.

- Chris Kelly suffered an undisclosed injury and couldn’t finish off the third period of Tuesday night’s game. The issue was being downplayed by Claude Julien following the game, but it forced Eriksson and Carl Soderberg to top 22 minutes of ice time for a Bruins team that prides itself on sharing the workload. The Bruins can’t afford to start attracting injuries to their top 12 forwards given the real lack of depth within the organization at forward. They have young, talented players, but not much in the way of experienced veterans capable of stepping in during the postseason.

- Jordan Caron was a team-worst minus-2 and was one of the forwards out on the ice for Minnesota’s game-tying goal in the third period. Caron was a little active offensively with five shot attempts, but he also didn’t really contribute anything of major impact for the Black and Gold.

- Corey Potter finished with 13:24 of ice time and was caught in between on Jason Pominville’s second goal of the game, and looked very much like a player that hadn’t been on the ice much in the last two months. It’s what was to be expected, but it also doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence should injuries create a need for the right shot defenseman to play regularly.