A few thoughts and shots following the Bruins’ 1-0 loss Saturday night to the Predators in Tune Town, where the Black-and-Gold offense played on the ear like Faith Hill covering Mungo Jerry.
■ The top line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak (50 points total) did not get it done, which is rare. Now after 13 games (7-4-2), the pattern is undeniable: If the top trio doesn’t lead the way, then the Bruins are headed to a dead end.
Change the lines? Swap out some bodies with Providence players? For now, coach Bruce Cassidy sounds inclined to dance with the gang who brung ’em.
“The problem I have with that is, now you’re letting people off the hook a little bit,” Cassidy said when asked about the potential for changes.
“You have to take ownership of your own game at some point. This is the National Hockey League, and you have to take ownership. I’m not going to put Bergy, March, and Pasta all on separate lines, right?”
The onus, Cassidy said, falls on the rest of the pack.
“End of the day, the other guys have to find a way to generate a little bit more,” the coach said. “I think it’s on the individual, and the staff, to put some stuff in place for them. I don’t think you can sit around and wait and say, ‘Well, when I get this linemate, I’m going to be better.’ I don’t think that is the appropriate attitude, and I don’t think it’s the culture we want to create here.”
■ David Krejci (2-7—9), posted a 0-0—0 for a third straight game with his 16:53 TOI. He again pivoted sophomores Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk (a combined 3-3—6).
Earlier in the day, ex-Bruin wizard Marc Savard put on his columnist’s thinking cap and posted the following on Twitter:
“My @NHLBruins are on the road @PredsNHL this will be a great early season measuring stick to see where the B’s stand amongst the leagues best. . . . It will also prove that we desperately need a scoring winger for #46Krejci. Can you say “Breadman’’ #9Panarin mmmmm what a perfect fit!”
Yes sir, another retiree heard from. Your faithful puck chronicler (@GlobeKPD) began touting the idea of the Bruins acquiring Artemi Panarin midsummer. The need only has grown more obvious.
But it’s most likely a pipe dream, unless the Blue Jackets abruptly change their strategy and move Panarin (on track for July 1 free agency) weeks ahead of the February trade deadline. It would take prime young talent (think: Charlie McAvoy and DeBrusk) to get the party started.
■ P.K. Subban logged a quiet 23:30, the former Habs blue-liner barely making a peep. The Preds back line is so deep and versatile that he does not have to make himself known out there for anything other than his steady play. Not nearly as entertaining or histrionic as his days with Les Glorieux, but that’s just fine for a club that’s sitting atop the Original 31.
■ Heinen, struggling thus far, sounds appropriately frustrated.
“We can’t rely on our top line to do it every night,” he said. “We have to find a way to help ’em out. You can’t just say we’re getting chances, enough is enough, we to produce. It’s frustrating, but we have to find a way to produce.”
As group, Heinen said, the young forwards feel both the pressure and the frustration.
“We are put in positions . . . good positions to produce . . . offensive positions, power play,” he said. “They put me in spots to produce, and when you’re not doing it, it’s frustrating. There’s no excuses at this point. Just keep on working.”
■ We know Marchand’s tongue gets him in trouble (see: the lipsmacking ’18 Cup playoffs), and he’s at his best when his clock is set to Marchand Mean Time. It’s impossible to separate his emotion from his elite-level offensive production. But he has to do better than self-inflicting another 12 minutes of PIMs on top of the deuce that referee Marc Joannette tagged him with at the end of the first period at Bridgestone. The Bruins need him available for the full 60, and not a discount 46.
During those extra 12 minutes Marchand had to cool off, the Preds were tagged with a pair of minor penalties. Had Marchand not been hors de penalty box, he could have been working the halfwall on the power play, which finished the night 0 for 4 (eight minutes).
■ McAvoy won’t be available to play against Dallas on Monday. Ditto for fellow blue-liner Urho Vaakanainen.
Matt Grzelcyk is a possibility, but with the club not practicing Sunday, Cassidy is likely to come back with the same six defensemen that played in Nashville. A better bet that Grzelcyk is held out until Thursday with Vancouver in town.
The club has not revealed the reason for McAvoy’s protracted absence. Late Saturday, Cassidy made it sound as if the defenseman is struggling with equilibrium or vertigo issues.
“I wish I had a good answer for you,” Cassidy said. “He’s in the gym working out. He’s not on the ice. So generally what happens is that you have to practice for some [amount] of time. Is he close? Once he gets on the ice and practices with us, I’ll have a definitive answer. Until then, I have nothing new. I’m worried about the guys in the lineup.”
If McAvoy had a concussion, Cassidy said, the coaching staff has not been made aware of it.
“He got hit, and he’s felt a little bit off,” he said. “In China he was off. So what does ‘off’ mean? It’s a little bit of dizziness and whatnot, so I think they are just allowing him to stay away until his equilibrium, or whatever you want to call it, feels better and he’s back to a normal energy level.”
■ Pastrnak shot nine times in Nashville. He hit the net once, had two offerings blocked, and a half-dozen were off net. His last attempt came at the buzzer, a one-time tee shot from the left faceoff dot, that went wide right.
■ Jaroslav Halak was tagged with his first regulation L of the season (4-1-2). But with only one goal allowed on 40 shots, his metrics remain astounding, with league bests in save percentage (.952) and goals-against average (1.45).
■ The Predators oustshot the Bruins, 17-6, over the final 20 minutes.