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Bruins can't match Detroit's speed in 5-1 loss

September 28, 2016, 11:45 PM ET [9 Comments]
Ty Anderson
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The preseason has never been about wins and losses, but rather the teaching moments that come from every game. Fortunately and unfortunately, the Boston Bruins can take plenty of those from their Wednesday night contest at TD Garden, a 5-1 blowout at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings.

“Well I think in that game it’s a tough game. Obviously we didn’t play that well, but we had a young lineup in there,” Boston assistant coach Joe Sacco said after the loss. “There was an opportunity for our organization to evaluate some of our younger players in there again and to see where they’re at, and for the players, from their side, I think it’s a bit of an eye opener.

“That pace out there was fast, and being on the bench tonight. I know that [the Red Wings] didn’t have a full lineup either, but they had some good team speed out there, and something that we’re trying to do again with our younger guys, trying to instill with them is the ability to play fast and… so they were on us quick. We have to make quick decisions. You’ve got to be able to think and move out there, and I think that our young guys, they saw that early that it wasn’t going to be an easy night, but you can learn from that game, and I think, like I said, I think it’s just something that our young guys can take and say ‘Okay, this is how this game’s played at this level.’”

Detroit jumped on the Bruins with a ferocious offensive attack that put the Bruins in a 10-to-2 disadvantage on the shot clock midway through the period, and though the Black and Gold fought back and eventually took the shot on goal lead late in the period, it would be the Wings that struck first. The first came on a power-play deflection from former Harvard captain Kyle Criscuolo at the 18:47 mark of the period, and the second followed just 21 seconds later, from Steve Ott.

With speed on their side, the Wings continued to take it to the Bruins in the second frame, with two goals in 2:03, the first from Luke Glendening at the 10:51 mark of the period, and the second from Anthony Mantha, at 12:54. It was a relentless net-front attack that simply baffled the Bruins, and really exposed some of the Bruins’ defensive youth in a game that featured Adam McQuaid and Colin Miller as the lone NHL regulars on the point.

“Well, they’re a team that attacks the net and we’re a team that likes to attack the blue paint as well, and they go into those areas hard,” Sacco said of Detroit’s success in the Boston zone. “They funnel pucks towards the net. They crash and bang, and it’s an area where we need to be strong in front of our goaltender. We had a couple of defensemen that got to see what it’s like. You’ve got to be able to contain. You’ve got to win battles in the corners. You’re playing against NHL players, so… but they’re a team that goes hard to the net. It’s certainly an area that they took advantage of at times tonight.”

Down by four, the Bruins responded with a brilliant sequence that saw Ryan Spooner break through two Red Wing defensemen before he dished it back to Austin Czarnik, one of Boston’s standouts through camp, for his first goal of the preseason, scored on Jared Coreau.

“I just told [Spooner] let’s use our speed there before the faceoff so I saw him going and I figured I would just get up there because I know he’s a pass-first guy,” Czarnik said of his goal, scored at four-on-four play. “He made a good play, great pass and was lucky enough to get it in.”

But the Red Wings crushed any undoubtedly slim hope of a Bruins comeback midway through the third period behind a Drew Miller goal scored 9:09 into the third period.

Under siege throughout the night, Malcolm Subban stopped 30-of-34 shots against in a 40-minute outing (which was the plan from the start), while 19-year-old Daniel Vladar, in his first TD Garden appearance, finished the night with seven stops on eight shots against in relief.

Coreau, who stymied the B’s on their few looks, finished the night with 35 stops on 36 shots against.

GAME NOTES: Both Glendening (one goal and two assists) and Ott (one goal and two assists) finished the night with three points. Jesse Gabrielle logged a team-low 5:36 of time on ice for the Bruins. Noel Acciari and McQuaid led the Bruins with four hits each, while Glendening led all players with five. Spooner, who was assessed a penalty for a faceoff violation, won just two of 11 draws.

Random thoughts and notes

- It was professional game No. 1 for Charlestown, Mass., native and former Boston University puck-mover, Matt Grzelcyk. The 5-foot-10 defender finished the night with an assist and two shots on the goal in 19:49 of time on ice, and did his best to ignore the hometown distractions.

“It didn’t really hit me when I was out there,” Grzelcyk said of his Garden debut. “I just tried to go out there and play as if it was another and try not to catch my eyes wandering between shifts or anything like that. But I’ve played in this building a couple times so I was able to settle my nerves a little bit.”

- Bruins forward Noel Acciari left the game early in the third period with what appeared to be a lower-body injury. Tangled up in front of the Boston bench, the 24-year-old looked as if his knees buckled, and then struggled to get back to the bench under his own power. He went to the locker room shortly thereafter with some slight help from the trainers, and did not return to the bench.

The Bruins did not have an update on the Johnstown, R.I., native after the loss.

Acciari, believed to be a likely fit for the fourth line, had one assist in 19 games for the B’s last season.

Up next

The Bruins will take their preseason show on the road for a Friday night game in Detroit.

Ty Anderson has been covering the National Hockey League for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, has been a member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association's Boston Chapter since 2013, and can also be read in the New England Hockey Journal magazine. Contact him on Twitter or send him an email at Ty.AndersonHB[at]gmail.com.
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