By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins found themselves on the wrong end of a 6-3 final in Colorado on Wednesday night.
To get to that frustrating conclusion — one that even saw Patrice Bergeron goaded into an argument from the penalty box with a fan (you’d assume) — the Bruins surrendered five unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes of play, and were outshot 18-13 over that span. The Bruins also attempted a season-low 32 shots in 45:54 of five-on-five play in the losing effort.
The Bruins even lost the matchup of the NHL’s best lines, as the Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen line accounted for three of Colorado’s goals while the Bergeron Line’s David Pastrnak finished with one goal and an assist.
But the Bruins could live with all these losses. After all, it’s a November game against a non-conference foe.
The one loss the Bruins — as currently held together by duct tape and superglue — cannot live with happened in the first period with the awkward torque of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara’s knee in a night-ending collision with the Avs’ Carl Soderberg.
Might be the play where Chara went down with an injury. Not a good look on that knee. pic.twitter.com/EuYblCreVX— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) November 15, 2018
The 41-year-old Chara finished the shift, which ended by way of Jake DeBrusk’s first of two goals in the losing effort, but it was the end of his night after just nine shifts and 5:24 of time on ice.
His loss was immediately noticeable.
Upon Chara’s departure, the Bruins were absolutely shelled, and finished the final 40 minutes of play out-chanced 15-to-8 at even-strength, and were left scrambling in their own zone at what felt like every time you glanced at the ice.
It didn’t help that the Bruins’ top six forward groups looked as disjointed as ever — Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy even decided to mess with the lines in the middle frame, moving Jake DeBrusk to the Bergeron line and moving Pastrnak down to David Krejci’s right — and provided little to nothing along the walls as the Bruins got their heads kicked in.
But without Chara, Cassidy undoubtedly leaned on his undersized, left-shot defenders, as Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk picked up the bulk of the workload; Krug logged nine shifts and 6:48 of the first period, but was credited with 17 shifts and 18:34 of ice-time in the final two periods. Grzelcyk finished the opening 20 minutes with 10 shifts and 7:13 of action, but logged 21 shifts and 17:36 of action over the final 40 minutes of play. And despite some obvious defensive-zone adventures, Krug finished his night on the ice for just one goal against (Tyson Jost’s third-period power-play goal that put the game away), while Grzelcyk finished his night with some tough luck, as he was on the ice for a defense-worst three goals against.
The usage of one of the club’s other left-shot defenseman, John Moore, was peculiar to say the least, as he finished with the fewest shifts among remaining defensemen after Chara’s exit, and the second-lowest time on ice. Moore was utilized as the club’s penalty-killing defender with rookie Jeremy Lauzon, and was on the ice for two power-play goals against.
Given the fact that Moore was signed to help ease some of Chara’s workload and alleviate the redundancy that the Krug-Grzelcyk lineup can present, seeing him utilized as infrequently as he was in the final 40 minutes was a little bizarre.
After the game, Cassidy did not have an immediate update on the severity of Chara’s injury, but the 6-foot-9 captain was seen leaving the arena with a limp and a brace under his suit, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy.
Chara leaves with a limp and brace— steve conroy (@conroyherald) November 15, 2018
Should Chara miss any additional time, Friday’s meeting with the Stars will likely see the Bruins skate without three of their top four defensemen (Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo remain out of action), and without three of their four optimal penalty-killing defenders (Kevan Miller remains on the shelf and isn’t expected to return to the lineup until next Wednesday).
Jakub Zboril, with the team on an emergency recall, would be the next in line for the Bruins on defense.
The Bruins will have a scheduled off-day in Texas tomorrow, with no scheduled media availability.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.