By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It’s been just two games, but life without Patrice Bergeron (rib/shoulder) and Zdeno Chara (knee) has been one scary sight for the Boston Bruins, who dropped a 3-2 overtime final to the Red Wings on Wednesday night.
After a pedestrian first period that saw the Bruins hold the Red Wings to just four shots on goal (it was the fewest shots allowed by the Black and Gold in any period this season), the Bruins found themselves on the board when Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson capped a furious sequence around Jimmy Howard with his second goal in as many games.
But the Red Wings tied things up less than six minutes later as Tyler Bertuzzi deflected a no-chance goal through Tuukka Rask, leaving the Bruins and Wings knotted up at 1-1 through 40 minutes of action.
In what was one of the most painfully dull-yet-evenly played third periods the Bruins have skated in this season, Chris Wagner put a puck through Howard at the 6:45 mark of the third period to break the tie. But the Red Wings’ Andreas Athanasiou was there to tuck home a rebound off a Gustav Nyquist shot Rask failed to successfully corral to tie things up just 2:14 later.
Forced to overtime for the second time in the last three games, it didn’t take long for everything to go wrong at once for the Bruins.
Moments after a great chance on the doorstep was denied by Howard (34 saves in the winning effort), the Red Wings earned an offensive-zone faceoff against Rask and the Bruins. The faceoff then bounced off the official and out of reach of Forsbacka Karlsson. Marchand was unable to grab a hold of a tumbling puck, and Torey Krug was seemingly caught in no man’s land as Athanasiou grabbed the puck, spun, and rifled a shot through Rask for the game-winning strike.
And not that it’s anything close to a shock, but the absences of Bergeron and Chara were downright glaring in the loss.
Up front, the Bruins once again struggled to win faceoffs; David Krejci finished with wins on just four of 14 faceoffs, and went 0-for-3 in the offensive zone. Forsbacka Karlsson, who received an in-game promotion to center Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, did not fare much better, with wins on just three of his 11 battles at the dot.
Beyond their struggles at the dot, and despite a 36-shot night, it never felt as if the Bruins were generating legitimate scoring chances with the consistency needed to win, and it often felt as if the Bruins had to work three times harder than the Red Wings just to get similar offensive looks on goal and against Howard. It was as sluggish an offensive effort as the B’s have had, which is saying something after the efforts in Dallas and Arizona late last week.
On the backend, the Bruins’ own-zone communication seemed spotty at best, they were reckless with their pinches, and between the circles was a straight-up party zone for Detroit shooters. This is where the Bruins continue to miss the reach of the 6-foot-9 Chara, and where the overexposure for some of the Bruins’ inexperienced defensemen can hurt, as they’re not exactly accustomed to some of the communication required for the B’s system to truly thrive and move the puck out of their own end.
Elsewhere on the health front, Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller finally made his return to the Boston lineup after missing the previous 14 games with a hand injury suffered in an Oct. 17 loss in Calgary. Playing top-pairing minutes opposite Matt Grzelcyk, Miller finished the night with three shots on goal and a blocked shot in 21:58 of time on ice.
The Bruins will have Thanksgiving off before returning to action Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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.