BostonBruins.com - Despite an optimistic start to this new phase of bubble hockey, the B's fell 4-1 on Thursday night to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Letting up three goals in the first period, the Black & Gold turn their focus to cleaning up their play ahead of their first round robin game on Sunday.
The B's eventually found the back of the net when David Pastrnak scored a nifty five-hole deke mid-way through the second period, but that proved to be the Bruins' only mark on the scoreboard for the evening.
One of the many headlines going into Thursday night's game against Columbus revolved around the promising young talent on the B's playoff roster. The performance from winger Jack Studnicka may have been just enough to solidfy him into the lineup moving forward.
After the team's loss, Coach Bruce Cassidy praised Jack Studnicka's gameplay stating, "He was good. He got a couple of looks, he was on pucks. He tried to make plays, tried to recover pucks. The shooting versus passing, we're going to have to live with that for a while until he learns the league, what he can get away with. I liked his initiative. A couple of soft backhand plays. Again, a lot of young guys, those aren't going to happen in this league. Sticks are too good. But certainly, he had some of our better chances. I thought he played well."
Studnicka spoke with media after Thursday night's tilt stating that he felt good out on the ice.
"Definetly felt stronger on the puck, more comfortable, it felt like just another hockey game to me out there," Jack said. "Where in the past, my nerves might have kicked in. I defiinitely felt good. I think I've done personally a good job to be prepared for this moment, so my body felt good out there."
The B's plan to continue relying on their young core as round-robin games approach.
Video: Cassidy addresses media after exhibition loss
Cassidy felt that the team could have offered more urgency in their gameplay, however, given the current circumstances, he remained certain that his group has what it takes to continue elevating their play as they all ease back into a high-tempo schedule.
Crediting Columbus on their performance, Cassidy claimed, "We weren't on time. [Columbus] had more urgency. Obviously, they are getting ready for elimination games, so their mindset was clearly different from ours early on. I think we were to a certain extent, trying to get back into live hockey whereas they were playing for keeps."
Cassidy believes mental adjustments going forward could help provide his players with the right attitude during the round-robin series.
"A little more urgency in their game, I don't want to fault Tuukka. Pucks went through us in that first period a lot. It just showed us we weren't really sharp with our sticks and our mental part of it...some of that has to do with rust in your game. Some of that has to do with puck support. A lot had to do with Columbus' urgency. They're a good forechecking team to begin with and they certainly brought that tonight. And their mentality was probably that way. They've got to get after it right away. They're playing the [Maple] Leafs. Again, I thought they were more dialed in than we were early on and it certainly showed."
In The Crease
Coach Cassidy provided a brief update on the team's goaltending schedule for Sunday's first round-robin matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"I know they're two good goaltenders, so I believe they'll be on top of their game in a hurry here. Tuukka is going to start the Philly game, and from there like I said, we're going to use both. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. Lets see how Tuukka does Sunday, how he feels coming out of that game. We'll make the decision who goes against Tampa."
When asked about playing in a real game enviornment for the first time, Tuukka said it could take some time getting used to.
"To me it felt like a scrimmage, practice in the beginning, obviously there is no atmosphere," Tuukka said. "Tracking [the puck] was a little unusual with the four month break, but hopefully next game we'll be feeling better."
Without that natural playoff atmosphere, it's no easy task for the players to find that key motivation. The energy from fans can sometimes be the boost a team needs to perform at their peak level.
Backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak chimed in during his press conference Thurday night saying, "You just need to realize there is nobody in the stands and you need to find the energy on the bench and on the ice."
Shaking Off The Rust
Bruce Cassidy acknowledged the disconnect between his top-line trio, but still believes they're still heading in the right direction.
"They didn't manage the puck like they typically do…Columbus did a good job against them."
Cassidy further commented on David Pastrnak's individual gameplay stating, "[He had] good legs. Obviously, he scored a nice goal. He had a few looks."
Pastrnak did not enter the exhibition game feeling at one-hundred percent, but that didn't hold him back from scoring the only Bruins' goal of the night.
"I'm really happy that I played," Pastrnak said. "And unfortunately it didn't go, but our main focus was to get better...We knew it wasn't great, but we want to get better every game."
Video: B's fall to Columbus on Thursday night