Boston got off to a rough start in their season opener at Columbus, but things quickly began to fall into place after a dreadful first period. Proceeding a horrendous twenty minutes of play for the B’s, they went on to score six goals in a 6-3 win on Thursday night to begin their 2016-17 season, which now has very high hopes.
Let’s start off talking about the first period. Goalie Tuukka Rask and his poor defense in front of him gave up two goals in the first twenty minutes of action, forcing the team to the locker room with a 2-0 deficit. At about this time, Bruins fans are shaking their heads, as they’ve watched this movie before. You hate to overreact to the first period of the first game of the regular season, but the B’s looked awful. From Rask giving up an incredibly soft goal only three minutes into the game to a defense that just looked lost, nothing was going right. The offense wasn’t doing much, so things looked nasty.
On to the second period we go. David Pastrnak scored the first goal for the Bruins, cutting the deficit in half, getting some momentum going. Pasta scored the final goal of the season last year, and scored the first goal of the season this year. Pretty cool. Anyways, Columbus then got that goal right back within a few minutes, making it 3-1. There goes that opportunity. But wait, there’s more! A few minutes later, newcomer David Backes scores his first goal as a Bruin in his debut, making it 3-2. Not too shabby. He wasn’t done yet. Another few minutes later, Backes goes on to score his second goal of the night, tying things up going into second intermission.
The third period. Tied 3-3, anything can happen. Something happened for the Bruins. That something was a guy by the name of Brad Marchand; you may have heard of him. He gave Boston their first lead of the night, and didn’t look back. Marchy scored his second goal of the night about six minutes later, and Pastrnak then scored his second goal of the night, an empty netter to seal the W.
Though the Bruins ended up winning, we can’t just kick the Rask situation under the fridge and forget about it. Tuukka isn’t the same anymore, and we’re all aware of that. This Bruins team isn’t good enough to win games without their goalie on top of his game, unfortunately. That first line broke out, yeah, but that’s no excuse for Rask to be giving up some baby-poop-soft goals. His D didn’t help him out much, either. Zdeno Chara looked kind of slow, but he’s definitely improved over the offseason. The Bruins cannot succeed without a healthy, performing Chara.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about David Backes, who centered for Marchand and Pastrnak, as Patrice Bergeron currently has a lower body injury and didn’t travel with the team. Backes looked phenomenal in his debut. Within only a couple minutes of the game beginning, Backes got chippy and threw some punches, giving Bruins fans a decent first impression. That was only the start of his terrific night. As I mentioned, he scored two goals, already contributing big-time. Personally, I love this guy. He’s a player that Boston desperately needed. He’s a big-man. Not scared to get physical. A team leader. He brings the right amount and kind of energy to this team, as we’ve already seen after just one game. Expect him to become a Garden-favorite in some time.
The next big story of the night was none other than Brad Marchand. Boston recently signed him to a new, 8-year, $49 million deal, and he was coming off of a solid World Cup performance. Myself and others expected him to have a big night, and he came through. He scored two goals, recorded three assists with seven shots on goal and also drew a penalty in the second period. Away from the numbers, Marchy just looked great out there. He played energized, almost angry. He was worth every penny, as NESN announcer Jack Edwards said during the game. Marchand had a career-year last year, and don’t be surprised if he’s even better this year.
David Pastrnak also played a big role in this win, as well. Two goals, two assists and a game-high eight shots on goal. For being thrown into the first line unexpectedly, he played great, just as well as his linemates. Thursday’s first line played great all together, and it might be hard to separate them once Bergeron does return, but now Boston knows that they have a backup plan if necessary. Who knows if Pasta’s success will continue or not; he’s still very young and has some growing to do, obviously. He seemed to have fit in fine, nonetheless.
Thursday night was all about the first line. The second, third and fourth lines had their own issues. The second line, Spooner-Krejci-Heinen, struggled. I wouldn’t be surprised if the B’s went with Spooner-Krejci-Backes once Bergeron does make his return, but I’m no expert. That’s at least what I’d go with. The third and fourth lines were made up of young guys, minus Matt Beleskey. There isn’t much to write home about for those guys; good, but not great. They’ll need some more ice time for anyone to get a read on them.
Last but not least, the defense. The pairings were Chara-Carlo, Krug-O’Gara, and Liles-C. Miller. The rookies, Brandon Carlo and Rob O’Gara, had limited playing time, but looked decent in the time that they had. Carlo got toasted by Seth Jones and let up a goal, but that’s expected. The entire D looked shaky, as Boston struggles to find a defenseman to bring to the team. They’re in desperate need of another d-man from elsewhere, and they need to get one soon.
Look, I know that the Blue Jackets are a bad team, so the Bruins shouldn’t start up the duckboats just yet. There’s a lot of hockey left to be played, but this is a good start for them. They can absolutely build off of this. We’ll need a little more than sixty minutes of play to determine anything yet, and there’s still moves to be made to make the team even better. The future is bright, and things are only just getting lit up.