Everything you need to know from the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Devils in quickie form, with BSJ insight and analysis:
Sloppy play dooms B's: For the first time since March 7, 2020, the Bruins dropped a contest in regulation within the friendly confines of TD Garden — as a lackluster showing on defense and listless puck management doomed Boston in what was a 3-2 loss to the Devils on Thursday night.
Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy both lit the lamp in the loss for the Bruins, who drop to 10-3-2 on the season and have now lost back-to-back contests. Jaroslav Halak stopped 23 of the 26 shots that came his way.
Even though neither team returned to the dressing room with a lead after 20 minutes of play, the opening period was a sign of what was to come for Boston — as New Jersey regularly extended O-zone possessions and hemmed the B's in their own end for prolonged stretches off of a frantic forecheck and some sloppy play from the home club.
Those defensive miscues and constant pressure from New Jersey finally manifested into goals on the scoreboard, with a slick feed from Jack Hughes — and an unwise pinch from Jeremy Lauzon — giving Kyle Palmieri a clear lane straight to Boston's doorstep — with the Devils winger beating Halak just 1:34 into the middle frame to open the scoring.
For the second straight game, Boston's power play relinquished a shorthanded goal, with Palmieri burying his second tally of the period at 10:39 to add to the Devils lead. The Bruins did manage to retaliate later on during the man advantage thanks to Jake DeBrusk's first tally of the season, but the B's leaky defense and poor puck management cost them once more in the second — as Andreas Johnsson fed a puck across the slot over to Pavel Zacha, who snapped the puck past Halak to hand New Jersey a 3-1 lead.
After Boston negated a 5-on-3 sequence by New Jersey midway through the third, the B's began tilting the ice back in their favor — with Charlie McAvoy making it a one-goal game after tipping home a David Pastrnak blast with 1:06 left in regulation. But another third-period rally was not in the cards for Boston, as Devils netminder MacKenzie Blackwood stood tall down the stretch to secure the win for New Jersey.
B's lose Krejci: Well, so much for the grand experiment of juggling Boston's top-six. After just one period of play, Bruce Cassidy was forced to put his entire forward corps in a blender for the remainder of Thursday's matchup, as David Krejci was ruled out shortly into the second period due to a lower-body injury. Krejci, who ranks sixth on the B's in scoring with 10 assists through 15 games, hasn't consistently generated offense away from the man advantage so far this season, but a revamped second line featuring him, Nick Ritchie and David Pastrnak offered plenty of intrigue.
Postgame, Cassidy didn't have an update on Krejci, noting that the club should learn more on Friday morning.
Even though the absences of Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril have been noticeable on the blue line, especially as of late, losing a top-six stalwart in Krejci could be a major issue for Boston, given the dearth of quality centers that could slot into that role. Charlie Coyle will likely get a promotion in the interim if Krejci has to spend some time on the shelf, with Jack Studnicka potentially getting another look with the big club if Boston wants to inject a bit more skill into the bottom six.
Boston could also opt for a pair of grinding lines and bump up Sean Kuraly to the third line and slot Trent Frederic over to the 4C pivot if need be. All are viable options, albeit none as enticing as having a playmaking pivot like Krejci in your lineup.