On Thursday night, the Blues four game point streak came crashing down with a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.
Jake Allen was a standout in the 1st period, stopping all 13 shots, many of them quality stops. Allen was pretty much the only reason the game was tied 0-0 after one period. According to Chris Kerber, 10 of the stops were high quality.
Torey Krug opened the scoring 3:31 into the 2nd period, scoring with both teams skating four per side. The key to the play a complete brain fart by Vince Dunn. Watch how Dunn completely gets lost in the defensive zone and goes for a casual skate around the zone. Even after Dunn motions for Iven Barbashev to follow David Krejci, Dunn still vacates his area and moves with them, though he doesn’t even move enough to really pressure Krejci but rather just puts himself in no-man’s land, covering nothing defensively.
With Dunn vacating the middle of the ice, Torey Krug moves to the low slot where he receives a pass from Krejci and beats a screened Jake Allen. Colton Parayko and Jake DeBrusk were battling out front making it almost impossible for Allen to make the save.
The Blues quickly rebounded with Ryan O’Reilly tying the game less than a minute later thanks to a good dump in and forecheck by Jordan Kyrou.
The forecheck set up the cycle that created the goal. What a play by the forwards on that line.
Less than 10 minutes later, the Blues scored to take the lead on a beautiful one-timer from Carl Gunnarsson.
The lead was short lived as David Backes would tie the game on a power play deflection goal less than three minutes later. Allen had little chance to make the save.
The Bruins would get the game winner a little over 5 minutes into the third period. The play starts pretty innocently and turns with a bad decision. Look at the positioning on the ice right before Vladimir Tarasenko’s poor angle and low percentage shot.
These type of shots rarely lead to goals and often lead to odd man chances against, going back the other way. Tarasenko would have been better served to either cycle the puck or to wait for Dunn coming off the bench and into the zone. Instead, the shot goes the other way and is chipped out to Chris Wagner for the game winning goal. Notice how Alex Pietrangelo makes a poor play off the bench. He doesn’t cover the passing angle to Wagner nor does he cover Wagner himself with good body position. Pietrangelo tries to make a stick play. In these situations, especially in close games, I would much rather the good body position be taken and the man played. Sometimes I wonder if players are a victim of their own good hand eye coordination and assume they will always be able to pick off the puck rather than making the safer play in a tie game.
Brad Marchand effectively iced the game about 8 minutes later when Pietrangelo and Gunnarsson appears to have some communication and coverage misunderstandings.
The Bruins would add an empty net goal.
Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz had yet another forgettable game with both being -2 and them only getting 2 shots each with no points. Schwartz also had three giveaways while Tarasenko had two. Dunn was poor as well again, also going -2 with a giveaway.
Allen is hardly to blame for this loss as the only goal I would like to have seen him make a better attempt on was the breakaway goal but it seems like Allen has a history of struggling on those types of plays.
Tonight, the Blues look to rebound as they host the Ottawa Senators in an early start (6pm). The Senators have won two in a row but are still only 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. They are only 7-15-1 on the road. The Senators have been much better than their record in the scoring department, ranking 10th in goals per game but they give up the most goals per game in the NHL and have the 3rd worst penalty kill.
Mark Stone and Matt Duchene lead the team with 50 points in 48 games and 46 points in 39 games. Thomas Chabot was having a Norris type season before getting hurt, posting 39 points and 10 goals in 40 games.
David Perron’s 13 game point streak will have to be put on hold as he will miss tonight with an upper body injury which is curious given he was on the ice in the last minute of the Bruins game. He is listed as day to day but I haven’t heard much about the injury as of yet. It seemed a surprise that he wasn’t on the ice this morning.
The Blues will turn back to Jordan Binnington tonight as was the plan before Thursday’s game.
With Perron out and maybe Alexander Steen back, the lineup might look like this:
Maroon - O'Reilly – Tarasenko
Schwartz - Schenn – Steen?
Blais - Sundqvist - Kyrou
Nolan - Barbashev - MacEachern
Gunnarsson - Pietrangelo
Bouwmeester - Parayko
Dunn - Bortuzzo
I’m surprised Dunn is still in and Edmundson out. If Steen can’t go, expect Fabbri to get back in.
NHL Champions for Charity
We’ve gotten some traction on the charity wager among the Central Division bloggers. The first charity I’ll highlight is Meagan’s Walk (www.meaganswalk.com) from your Blackhawk’s Blogger Justin Lowe (https://www.hockeybuzz.com/team/Chicago-Blackhawks). Meagan’s Walk seeks to bring hope and awareness to cancerous brain tumors, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children and young people.
It’s a great day for hockey.