The Bruins played the Islanders at the TD Bank Garden last night. While the game was entertaining and didn't mean anything, the Bruins showed that they still have a good deal of work to accomplish before the start of the new season. The Islanders won 5-3 and showed themselves to be an opportunistic team, essentially taking what the Bruins gave them and beating them with it.
The first period was the Bruins best and they came out skating hard, making some fine transition passes and controlling the puck for most of the period within the Islanders end. Off an offensive face-off, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand worked a give and go which led to Bergeron circling behind the net for a wrap around attempt that was blocked and Bergeron was able to collect the rebound of a deflection and roof a shot top shelf short side for the opening goal. Following this goal the Islanders got called for interference and the Boston power play got a chance to increase the lead. While they had good possession during the PP, the crispness of their passes were off and we started to see almost a nonchalance cockiness of effort. They wasted the opportunity!
When the second period started, the Bruins didn't seem as a team to have the same speed as in the first and the game for the Bruins seemed to be about individual efforts. This led to the Bruins into committing untimely penalties and sitting in the box while the Islanders rallied and took over the tempo of the game from them. The Bruins had 13 mostly ineffective shots in the period to the Islanders 6, but the Islanders scored 3 goals including a PP. Jeremy Smith came into the game midway through the second period just about the time the Islanders were getting their game on. He allowed two goals and probably should have stopped the second one had he been a bit sharper.
The third period started much like the second period ended with another penalty. Matt Bartkowski carried a feed out and up the left side and took a wrist shot that eluded Kevin Poulin for a shorthanded goal. Then as the penalty expired Loui Eriksson broke up a play along the blue line and carried up the left side as Brad Marchand came out of the penalty box. Eriksson drew the lone defender towards him and Marchand stayed onside and received a soft pas that left him all alone heading in on net and he decked right and a scoop left beat Poulin in close to tie the game at 3-3. After that the Bruins just seemed to waltz through the rest of the game until Cal Clutterbuck intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and made a snapshot in the clear from the right of Jeremy Smith and beat him top shelf short side. Another stoppable goal for Smith who did nothing to help his chances tonight to make the team.
The four best Bruins start to finish last night were Bergeron, Marchand, Doug Hamilton and Bobby Robins in limited ice time from the fourth line. The Krejci, Lucic, Eriksson line seemed out classed and Krejci was woeful in the face-off circle all game. Craig Cunningham looked good creating picks and holes for Bergeron and Marchand. Carl Soderberg and Matt Fraser had some flash and dazzle in the first period, their winger Simon Gagne seemed absent every time they made a good penetration of the Islander zone and didn't help them much. Chris Kelly playing on a line with Jordan Caron and Robins had limited ice time, but Kelly played some good penalty kill minutes and excelled in the face-off circle last night.
I expect David Warsofski and Cunningham to get sent down in the next cut and Gagne should be released to make room for Reilly Smith and a few other forwards to get a last look before pre-season games end. There are two more games left, on Friday on Long Island against the Islanders and Saturday back at home against the Detroit Redwings. Since my last post, Chris Breen was demoted to Providence and cleared waivers and Ville Leino was released from his PTO with the team. Coach Julien was cryptic but alluded to Greg Campbell not being expected to be ready for the opening game of the new season. Expect to see Torey Krug and Reilly Smith in action over the last two games.
Until Next Time!