Against the best teams in their calendar, the Bruins drew blank.
Looks like they’re missing the balance and play of David Krejci, who brought his talents to Olomouc, and Torey Krug (2-6–8 in nine games for St. Louis).
Taylor Hall and Charlie McAvoy will have time to settle in, but the unit didn’t click instantly. David Pastrnak didn’t count in his game either. The bright spot in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Leafs was Hall, who deftly reversed a Patrice Bergeron cross-net for the Bruins’ opening goal. .
“I think a few games ago I would have just stepped away from the shot,” said Hall, who learns the point in net, under the goal after attacking from the wing in previous career saves. “I’m starting to find comfort there, to be able to tip, read some guys.”
⋅ After Hall’s goal, Toronto’s quick and aggressive penalty kill denied them access to the zone. This is an area where Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy believes the 23-year-old McAvoy needs to be better.
“He has to settle down sometimes,” Cassidy said before the game. “You see, when our entrances don’t work, it’s like a mad rush. This is where Torey sort of excelled in saying, “Hey, let’s stick with the structure. We didn’t get it this time around, we’re not going to turn it into 1v4 every time. This is where Charlie has to settle the guys, which is difficult for a new guy, a young guy, when Torey had more street credit with these guys. He could catch them and catch them over there.
How long will Cassidy ride with McAvoy?
“Until it doesn’t work,” he said. “We want to give him a legitimate chance to get it right. He’s new for the most part, just like Hall, so it’s going to take a little while. The other three guys have great chemistry. There is no problem there.
⋅ Before facing the Leafs, Cassidy was asked if the void left by Krejci was bigger or smaller than expected.
His point of view: Hard to say, because he did not have his full force of attackers. Screened No.2 center Charlie Coyle missed every exhibition game except one to recover from knee surgery, and injuries to Craig Smith (three games missed), Nick Foligno (missed the last seven) and Curtis Lazar (missed the first four) pushed Coyle to the right wing. Cassidy is not yet ready to say whether or not the Bruins are missing a replacement for Krejci.
“Give us some time here,” he said. “It is too early to judge whether this is working or not. “
The Bruins were off Sunday. On Monday, preparation begins for Tuesday (Ottawa) and Thursday (Edmonton). Foligno (upper body), who returned to training last Friday, could come back and potentially push Karson Kuhlman out of the roster. The fourth row showed progress on Saturday, with some chances out of the race (note to Trent Frederic: shoot more) and decent defensive work against Auston Matthews and Co.
⋅ Cassidy was unhappy with Erik Haula, sat him down for a few laps in the second and subsequently commented that he “looked tired”. Haula, Craig Smith, Frederic and Lazar are stuck on zero goals. For the top three – Lazar drove hard – reaching the net is a must.
⋅ Derek Forbort and Mike Reilly are guilty of soft play on goals against. It’s especially troubling in the case of Forbort, who signed on for three years and $ 9 million to be a defensive rock.
⋅ Hall wore an assistant captain ‘A’ for the first time as Bruin. Bonus: He did it in front of a slew of family and friends, and scored his first goal against the Leafs since 2012.
“Obviously an honor, something you don’t take lightly,” he said. “Carrying a letter for the Boston Bruins is a really cool thing. I tried to be myself. I’m not the most vocal guy on the bench or in the hall, but I try to lead with my preparation and the way I play and fight. It was good to have that on the jersey tonight. I don’t know if it was because I had 25 people in the stands or what.
⋅ Hall, the former overall top pick and 2018 MVP, has sparked local media interest in Toronto. The Bruins love Hall’s exit so far (3-3–6 in nine games). Cassidy noted that Hall is “hard on himself” and the team keeps his expectations low. Be a solid player, but don’t feel like you have to be the “face of the franchise”.
Cassidy added that Hall is in a “perfect scenario” as the No.2 left winger behind Marchand.
“He slips right behind a world class player,” Cassidy said, “can have some competition with a world class player, he can go back to being a world class player.”