It certainly wasn’t the cleanest of games and unfortunately for the home crowd it resulted in a loss, but only after 65 minutes and a shoot out. It was clear the nerves were certainly causing some jitters among the newer players, especially on the bench of the Boston Bruins. However that could have been more noticeable simply from the amount of time throughout the last few days of watching them run the various drills during training camp. After watching how it is supposed to happen, it is much easier to see when it doesn’t. Such is not the case when watching the visiting team, especially during the preseason when little is known about what the prospects on the other team may be capable of.
The Columbus Blue Jackets did appear to be sharper at the start of the game and they were definitely stronger in the faceoff circle, winning 54% of the draws throughout the entire game. During the first period they outshot the Bruins 8-6, but the teams went into the first intermission scoreless. Sloppy passes and what seemed to be a lot of miscommunication, despite the vocals that could be heard from the players, contributed to a lot of the problems that the Bruins had during the opening frame.
Any interviews or sound bites of late around the NHL have consisted of this season’s buzz phrase “play fast,” but that doesn’t mean to skate at top speeds with nothing to show for it. The point is to make faster decisions and move the puck more quickly, combining that with the speed of skating so that a team can make their opponent pay when they make a mistake. A glimpse of this was seen in the game-tying goal of Jimmy Hayes at 3:56 of the second period. Taking place during a line change, it offered Hayes and Jake DeBrusk the opportunity to go two-on-one against a lone Blue Jacket defenseman. However, even in a “play fast” style, good hockey IQ is crucial.
“DeBrusk made a heck of a play there, a lot of patience and showing a lot of speed there too,” said Hayes. “And to wait out that guy and then send it back over to tap in the empty net was a nice one.”
And perhaps it was the voraciousness of the home crowd response after that tying goal that threw the visitors off their game a little. That coupled with a settling down of the nerves of the Bruins younger players, through some well placed comments by the veterans.
“Yeah, I’ve been in their shoes before too so you just tell them that they’re all here for a reason. They’re all trying to make the big club.,” Hayes said smiling with a fat lip full of stitches from an errant high stick. “Just continue to be confident in their ability and do, you know, what got them here—play their own game. Strive and stick to our system with the speed and push the pace. And I think these guys did a good job of that tonight.”
One of the Bruins’ young defensemen who knows how to push the pace, despite his looming 6’5” stature at just 20 years old, is Brandon Carlo. His skating is impressive for his size, explosive even. Coupling that with his long reaching stick, and once he matures in his decision making, he will be even more impactful.
His shot from the point just over a minute into the third, which was deflected by Danton Heinen, would again tie the score, where it would remain knotted until a shootout determined the victor. He was pleased to have participated in that after having taken an interference penalty just a minute into the second on which the Blue Jackets capitalized to open the game’s scoring.
“Absolutely, it’s very difficult to get a puck through [in the new play fast approach],” Carlo said about his assist on Heinen’s goal. “But that’s something that I worked on over the summer. That’s something [Don] Sweeney wanted me to do better and I felt like snapping them off just as fast as I can was the best thing that I could do and tonight it worked out.”
There was plenty of speed, and some flashes of skill. As the Bruins continue to work together during camp and experience scenarios throughout the preseason games, undoubtedly there will be more than just glimpses of “play fast” hockey. Add in those skilled veterans who are sitting on the sidelines for now or are still in Canada playing in the World Cup of Hockey, and the future looks to be headed in a positive direction.