By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Say what you will about the Bruins working themselves into a 5-1 hole 28 minutes into Tuesday's head-to-head with the Blue Jackets, or the fact that this one ended as a three-goal loss for the Bruins by way of a 7-4 final.
But there's something to be said for the way this team fights and fights and fights.
"You don't want to go down 5-1 and just lay over," Bruins winger Chris Wagner, who continued his hot streak scoring, admitted. "We didn't do that, so I guess that's a good sign, but we've got to sharpen things up defensively."
I mean, let's be real: At 5-1, on the road and against a desperate Columbus team, the Bruins should have been dead in the water. Nobody would have blamed them for simply packing it in and getting their minds ready for Thursday in Winnipeg. But in case you're still unaware, this team simply doesn't know how to do that. It's something the Boston locker room has preached again and again this year, too: They believe in one another, and no matter the situation thrown their way, at that.
This is the kind of stuff that can make this team an interesting one to watch this spring, really, as that never-say-die attitude has a way of rewarding your March belief early (and deep) into a postseason run with some momentum-swinging nights.
Puck-management is becoming big issue for Bruins
If you're looking for the top reason for this two-game slide (and their close calls over the last week or so as a whole), it seems to come back to the simple fact that every mistake with the puck made by the Black and Gold is ending up in the back of their net.
In fact, since last Tuesday's overtime win over the Hurricanes, the Bruins have been "credited" with 62 giveaways, good for the fifth-most in the NHL over that span. (Break it down by games played and the B's are averaging 12.4 giveaways a night.) It all seems largely self-inflicted and completely correctable mistakes haunting the Bruins at the worst spots right now.
The Josh Anderson goal that opened up a seven-goal barrage from the Blue Jackets really spoke to this exact issue, too.
With the puck on his stick and coming into the Columbus zone, B's rookie Trent Frederic inexplicably tried to take the puck through three bodies (one of whom was teammate Brad Marchand). Predictably, Frederic failed to get the puck deep, lost the puck entirely actually, and allowed the Jackets to feed Anderson for a great (and obviously successful) chance the other way.
Healthy bodies soon, please
Hey, Jake DeBrusk (foot), Marcus Johansson (lung), and David Pastrnak (thumb): No rush or anything, but the Bruins kinda need you back, uh, as soon as humanly possible. Same for you Matt Grzelcyk (arm) and Kevan Miller (who the hell knows).
Listen, no team is built to lose half of their top-six forward group and their entire third pairing, but you're seeing the toll the losses of those five skaters is taking on the Bruins right now. And it's simply not sustainable.
With the rest of the Boston forward grouping doing absolutely nothing throughout this one, Bruce Cassidy deployed Patrice Bergeron for 19:20, Brad Marchand for 21:22, and David Krejci for 19:51. Both Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo finished with over 23 minutes each, while Charlie McAvoy also eclipsed the 20-minute mark, too.
For Marchand, it was the fourth time in the last five games that he's played at least 20 minutes. Actually, with 103:33 of total time on ice in the last week, Marchand stands as the second-most deployed forward in all of hockey (only Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby has played more, with 105:35 over that same stretch). Bergeron, meanwhile, has been on the ice for 119 shifts (fifth-most among forwards over this stretch). Carlo and McAvoy rank No. 7 and 8 in time on ice among defenders over this same stretch, while the 41-year-old Chara stands at No. 15. Chara ranks third in shorthanded action over that span, while Carlo's fifth.
These are hard minutes logged by Boston's most important pieces.
Of course, this is all part of a stretch run, I know.
But the Bruins still have another 12 games over the next 25 days, and with home-ice anything but a guarantee at this point, it's beyond important that the Bruins find that delicate balance between going for it and making sure your most important players are at 100 percent when it's time for Game 1 (hopefully at TD Garden for this home-dominant squad).
In other words, some viable reinforcements are needed ASAP.