Hits and Misses in B's 3-2 loss to the Devils

Hits and Misses in B's 3-2 loss to the Devils
April 13, 2014, 11:30 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

Here are the hits and misses from the Bruins 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on Sunday afternoon.

HITS

Nice gestures from the Boston Bruins recognizing that today was likely Martin Brodeur’s final game as a member of the New Jersey Devils after a 20-year Hall of Fame career. Brodeur was serenaded with “Marty!” chants throughout the game, and enjoyed an extended ovation in the third period when Claude Julien used his timeout to make sure the Devils goaltender got his due from the fans. The Bruins players also sent a stick salute Brodeur’s way once the game had ended in recognition of the moment. Pretty cool stuff for a significant moment in NHL history.

It was an impressive NHL debut for Alex Khokhlachev, who didn’t look out of place at all centering a top six-line with Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith on either side of him. Koko had a couple of scoring chances earned through crashing the net hard for rebounds, and flashing his lightning quick snap shot release from the slot. A couple of solid Martin Brodeur stops kept the Russian forward off the scoreboard, but he had two shots, a hit and a takeaway along with an 8-for-17 performance in the face off dot in 15 plus minutes of ice time. He certainly looked like a top six NHL forward to these eyes.

Similarly Justin Florek was excellent playing a third-line role, and showed plenty of hustle and ability to exist as a bottom-six forward in 15-plus minutes of ice time. Florek had three shots on net, a hit and a couple of takeaways, and wouldn’t surprise anybody by competing for a roster spot in Boston next season. He also looked like he might just able to help as a big-bodied energy forward should the need arise during this playoff run.

Multiple point efforts from Brad Marchand, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson on Sunday afternoon bodes well headed into the playoffs, and it was a bit of a moral victory for the Swedish winger to get to 10 goals on the final day of a very trying, challenging first season in Boston.

If the Bruins were attempting to make Marek Zidlicky feel like the world’s best defenseman headed into the offseason, they certainly hit the mark on Sunday allowing him to score a couple of goals.

Great gesture from Julien putting an 'A' on the sweaters of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Chris Kelly all remaining behind in Boston. All three are very underrated, unheralded leaders within the rock solid Bruins dressing room.

Jaromir Jagr finished with a pair of assists in the game, and moved up to eighth past Gordie Howe on the NHL all-time list with 1,050 assists and a tie for sixth with Steve Yzerman on the all-time points (1,755) list. Amazingly, Jagr was the first 42-year-old to lead his NHL team in points since Gordie Howe did it in 1969-70.

The Bruins managed to escape New Jersey healthy, and it sounds like both Patrice Bergeron and Daniel Paille are going to be okay. Good news all around.

MISSES

Zidlicky beat Chad Johnson on a wraparound goal in the first period. Johnson did a great job for the Bruins this season and they’d be lucky to have him back again next season as the backup netminder, but he clearly has an issue consistently stopping wraparound plays with traffic around the net. The post-to-post explosiveness just isn’t a strength in Johnson’s game, though he makes up for it with smarts and solid technique most of the time. But where there’s smoke there is fire when Johnson allowed a handful of goals off wraparound plays this season.

Reilly Smith had three shots on net in 16:09 of ice time, and the puck seems to be finding him right now. That’s a good thing, obviously. But Smith is also experiencing difficulty turning potential scoring chances into actual scoring chances, and hasn’t been able to put solid shots on net when he’s in the scoring areas around the net. This phenomenon has been going on for the last couple of games, and will need to change if Smith is getting these kinds of chances with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand skating on his line.

Matt Bartkowski will be one of the six defensemen to start the postseason for the Bruins, but it wasn’t a great final effort of the regular season. Bartkowski wasn’t terrible by any means, but he was completely overpowered by Travis Zajac in front of the net for New Jersey’s second goal of the game. Bartkowski slammed his stick against the goal post after the score, betraying his frustration at the way things broke down right in front of the net.

Dougie Hamilton spent some time skating on the wing for the Bruins in the regular season finale just as Torey Krug did several games ago. It didn’t seem to be a very good fit for the 20-year-old Hamilton, who clearly wasn’t comfortable trying to play another position. Will be interesting to see if moving Hamilton/Krug to forward is an option come playoff time should their forward depth get compromised.