Zach Trotman and Boston’s defense struggled mightily Thursday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Without Zdeno Chara, the Bruins’ defense figured to be suspect at best. At least there were no surprises on opening night.
Playing without their captain, Boston’s defense fell apart after the first period, allowing three goals in each of the last two periods as the Jets took a 6-2 victory in Boston’s season-opener.
The most egregious misplay came from newcomer Matt Irwin, who coughed up the puck behind Boston’s net with the game tied at one. Jets captain Andrew Ladd picked the puck cleanly from Irwin and fed former Bruin Blake Wheeler, who beat Tuukka Rask to give Winnipeg the lead. At least one of Irwin or partner Zach Trotman were on the ice for four of five goals against on the night, excluding Winnipeg‘s empty netter with 3:38 left to play.
The night actually started out well for the B’s, who controlled play in the first period and got the game’s first goal from David Krejci. The B’s failed to cash in on their subsequent chances however, and when play turned sloppy in the second, the game slipped away.
Such a turn of events wasn’t too shocking. Things can go south quickly when a team doesn’t have a good blue line and the Bruins learned that the hard way Thursday.
Here are four more things we learned in the season-opener.
MAMBO NO. 5
For as much as Rask had to play last season, he didn’t get lit up frequently. Thursday saw him allow five goals, something he only did three times last season.
Rask is obviously one of the best goaltenders in the world, but with Boston’s sloppy showing in front of him from the start of the second period on, he had his work cut out for him. It actually could have been worse, as Rask stopped Andrew Ladd on a shorthanded breakaway.
BERGERON TAKES HEAD SHOT
Patrice Bergeron doesn’t go ballistic on his opponents often, but Alexander Burmistrov can probably join Alexander Burrows and Jeff Skinner’s club after Thursday.
With Bergeron chasing after a puck deep in Boston’s zone late in the first period, Burmistrov cut back and caught Bergeron in the face with an elbow. Bergeron bolted after the Jets forward immediately and a scrum ensued. Burmistrov got two minutes for an illegal check to the head and Adam Lowry got a roughing minor, while Bergeron was given a minor for cross-checking.
PASTRNAK STICKS OUT
Pastrnak brought the Bruins within one in the third period with a dart of a wrist shot that beat Ondrej Pavelec short-side, but it was a play on which he didn’t get a point at all that may have been most encouraging.
The second-year player isn’t going to be an overly physical player because, well, he can’t be. Though remarkably skilled, the slender 19-year-old is at risk of getting pushed around by bigger, stronger players.
That’s why it was a very positive sign when Pastrnak was able to steal the puck behind the Winnipeg to set up up David Krejci‘s goal. After forcing the turnover, Pastrnak swung around and sent the puck to the front of the net. Krejci got a stick on Winnipeg’s attempt to get it out and backhanded it past Pavelec to five the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
Pastrnak didn’t get an assist on the play because he didn’t get the puck to Krejci cleanly, but the fact that he was able to win a puck by having a good stick was a good sign that the teenager can be resourceful.
EVERYBODY HATES RINALDO, WHICH IS GOOD
During pregame introductions, Zac Rinaldo got more boos than any other home player. The boo birds (not a large group and certainly a group drowned out by cheers) at TD Garden quickly learned that the weren’t alone when Adam Lowry tripped Rinaldo on the fourth line’s first shift of the game.
The fact that Rinaldo’s opponents don’t like him for his past sins could be a very good thing for the Bruins, as long as he can play within the lines and draw penalties. Rinaldo was able to do that during the preseason, but a player with a reputation like Rinaldo’s might have a hard time behaving for 82 games.