Boston Bruins

By Ty Anderson,

It couldn’t get much worse for the Boston Bruins just 25 seconds into the first period.

At least that’s what you’d think regarding a sequence that saw Brad Marchand clipped up high with a stick and Damon Severson score on Jaroslav Halak on New Jersey’s first shot of the night.

Then the next 59:35 happened.

In a game that would rival last Sunday’s Carolina loss in terms of just straight-up ugly play in all three zones, the Bruins would find themselves down by two when a game of power-play pinball saw a puck hit Brandon Carlo’s shin pad and Halak’s mask en route to the net (and a goal credited to Kyle Palmieri at the 15:25 mark of the opening frame.

The Bruins would get on the board with Chris Wagner’s second-period goal, his fourth of the season, but fumbled and stumbled on the 1:49 of power-play time they opened the third period with, and it only went south from there.

Blake Coleman scored an unassisted breakaway goal off a blocked Torey Krug shot, and Nico Hischier made it 4-1 in a span of 8:28 in the third period. The Bruins got a box score goal by way of a Patrice Bergeron tally, but a David Backes penalty just 55 seconds later truly put any hopes of a comeback to bed before Coleman’s empty-netter in a 5-2 final at TD Garden.

Halak finished the night with 28 saves on 32 shots thrown his way, while the Devils’ MacKenzie Blackwood had saves on all but two of the 42 shots thrown his way in the winning effort, good for his first NHL victory.

This was pretty much the worst the B’s have looked at any point this season, too. Defensive-zone exits were a nightlong root canal, the Bruins couldn’t match the Devils’ intensity, and Boston shooters really failed to generate quality looks.

It’s one hell of an ugly five-day stretch for the B’s.

But the big story of this game came before the teams even took the ice, as the Black and Gold saw the return of forward Jake DeBrusk (out since Dec. 10 with a concussion) and defensemen Zdeno Chara (19 games missed) and Kevan Miller (13 games missed) after their respective absences. DeBrusk was his usual speed-demon self, with a strong first period. Chara and Miller had their bumps in their returns, but certainly brought a sorely missed element of physicality back to the Boston blue line.

Charlie McAvoy, meanwhile, was a scratch from this game due to the lingering aftermath of a blocked shot.

So, the B’s quest to be fully and completely healthy continues. The good news? This game didn’t come with any new injuries.

The Bruins will head to Buffalo for a Saturday night meeting with the Sabres. The Bruins are 1-1-0 against Buffalo this year.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 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.