A mix of analysis and observations after the Bruins’ 4-1 loss to the Blue Jackets in their exhibition game matchup in Toronto:
1. The Bruins looked like a team … that hasn’t played in 4+ months
Time to hit the panic button? Nah, of course not.
Still, the Bruins didn’t exactly inspire much confidence when it comes to shaking off the evident rust formed over a four-month layoff, as the club sleepwalked over the opening 20 minutes en route to a 4-1 defeat in their exhibition matchup against the Blue Jackets Thursday night.
While Boston gradually tilted the ice back in their favor as the game went on, a listless first period put the B’s in a hole that they would not climb out of — with Columbus scoring three unanswered goals against Tuukka Rask, including one on the power play.
Yes, Rask was not sharp in his first taste of game action since March, but Boston’s defensive structure was porous throughout the period, with a defenseman like David Savard gifted multiple clear shooting lanes, while trailing skaters in the crease and high slot were often able to quickly recover loose pucks and rebounds.
Some ugly hockey was to be expected in a tune-up like this, but even if this contest means nothing in the grand scheme of things, the B’s need to be much, much sharper on Sunday during round-robin play against Philadelphia.
(Columbus held an 18-8 edge in scoring chances generated over the opening 20 minutes of play. Not great.)
2. Still, Columbus looks to be a tough out this postseason
Whereas we shouldn’t put too much stock in Boston’s showing on Thursday night, the Blue Jackets — who jump into playoff action Sunday against the Maple Leafs — have to be pretty satisfied with how they fared in this matchup.
With players like Seth Jones (ankle injury), Cam Atkinson (ankle), Oliver Bjorkstrand (ankle), Alexandre Texier (back) and Dean Kukan (knee) back in the fold during this restart, the Blue Jackets are already a vastly different team from the one that still managed to punch their ticket to the postseason back in the spring.
That tenacious style of play — a hallmark of a John Tortorella team — was present throughout Thursday’s matchup, as Columbus primarily kept the Bruins to the outside for a majority of play, clogging up the slot and negating quality looks thanks to some timely blocks.
Best of luck next week, Toronto.
3. Marchand leaves early due to injury
Regardless of Thursday’s result, Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins likely would have been satisfied with the matchup so long as their roster remained intact.
Well, such wasn’t the case.