When playing good teams, Bruins' needs become obvious

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When playing good teams, Bruins' needs become obvious originally appeared on nbcsportsboston.com

Here's What We Learned from the Bruins 1-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.

1. The Bruins need help up front and on offense. It's become obvious against the playoff-caliber teams that the Bruins don't have enough firepower offensively, and that they're not going to score if it's not coming from their top line or their top power play unit. It's the same issue that the Bruins had during the playoffs last spring when they faced Tampa Bay, and for stretches in the first round against the Maple Leafs as well. Don Sweeney and the Bruins were banking on their young guys coming through and taking another step forward when they didn't upgrade over the summer. So far it hasn't worked. Ryan Donato is in the AHL after scoring one goal in 11 games, Danton Heinen has zero goals and just three points in 11 games, Anders Bjork has just one goal and two points in 11 games and Jake DeBrusk has three goals in 13 games after many expected him to step up and be the next big offense producer behind the Big Three of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Last night Bjork had zero shots on net in 10:44 of ice time, Heinen had one shot on net and was a minus-1 in 13:03 of ice time and DeBrusk had zero shots on net and a minus-1 rating in 16:38 of ice time.

Certainly the B's need more from guys like David Backes and David Krejci as well, but the sad fact is that Father Time might be starting to take a bite out of their games. Through 13 games the B's have had a pretty easy schedule and have really only played three top tier teams in Washington, Calgary and Nashville, and have been outscored 13-2 in those games while being shut out twice. That tells you right now that the Bruins are going to be DOA in the playoffs, even if they even get there, unless something significant changes with their current roster of forwards and the way they're made up.

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2. We've said it before and we'll say it again: Brad Marchand deserves more respect as one of the league's best players. Here are the facts. Referee Marc Joannette blew a high-sticking call where Marchand never even came close to catching Colton Sissons with his stick, and the flagrant embellishment drew the call from Joannette. Marchand understandably mocked Sissons for the way he play-acted into a penalty call, and the oversensitive Joannette decided he was being shown up by slapping another two minutes for an unsportsmanlike conduct. That should have been the end of it with Joannette realizing fairly quickly afterward that he botched the call, and perhaps taking some responsibility for that at some point. Instead Joannette went one step beyond into bush league territory by slapping Marchand with a 10-minute misconduct at the end of the period when he should have instead taken the "L", gone back to the referees dressing room and watched how he totally got sucked in by Sissons snapping his head back.

Instead he took one of the NHL's best players off the ice for 10 minutes because he couldn't handle the heat he created with his own poor officiating, and lowered the Bruins chances of winning a 1-0 game. Should Marchand have kept his mouth shut? Maybe you can make that argument, but I'm not going to blame No. 63 for being pissed off about a bad call that should have never happened in the first place. The fact that the crew doubled down with a horrible tripping call on Steve Kampfer later in the game just made things even worse.

3. The Bruins power play can't afford to take nights off and that's exactly what they did facing the 22nd ranked penalty kill in the NHL in the Nashville Predators. Boston went 0-for-4 on the power play with just five shots on net in eight minutes of man advantage time, and it looked like the move to Jake DeBrusk to the net-front on the top unit really didn't do much to improve things. Sure Torey Krug is still getting his legs back under him and the B's top line wasn't at their absolute best against a Nashville team that began punishing them right off the very first shift of the game.

But they need to at least provide scoring chances and momentum when they get three cracks at it in a second period where they're trailing by a 1-0 score in an eminently winnable game. It's also a bit unfair, but the Bruins power play is going to have to take on even more of the scoring burden until the Bruins figure out some good solutions for their ineffective second and third lines right now. That's a lot of pressure for the Bruins top line and their top PP, but that's reality for the Black and Gold right now. If their top players aren't scoring, then the Bruins aren't scoring and they certainly aren't beating quality teams.

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Plus

*Jaroslav Halak was brilliant once again with 39 saves, and a highlight reel Roman Josi goal where he deked through Danton Heinen and Torey Krug as the only blemish in his night of work. Halak leads the NHL with a 1.45 goals against average and a .952 save percentage and he should keep starting until he begins to cool off given the state of Boston's offense (and the state of Tuukka Rask) right now.

*Brandon Carlo blocked three shots, played 22:42 of ice time and continues his progression into a really strong top-4 shutdown D-man in the league. The upside of the injury to Charlie McAvoy is that it really has allowed Carlo to find his best game, and continue to get chances to improve the offensive side of things as well.

*Joakim Nordstrom nearly once again made a huge play for the Bruins when he won the face-off after the Nashville goal and broke in all alone in the first period. Pekka Rinne was able to stop both the initial shot and the rebound attempt to thwart Boston's best scoring chance, but Nordstrom once again was making things happen.

Minus

*Marc Joannette made a quality Bruins/Predators game about him when he slapped Brad Marchand with a 10-minute misconduct after he screwed up a high-sticking call. Give No. 63 the botched minor penalty and you can even give him two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct because he hurt your fragile feelings, but going with a misconduct after screwing up the call is a horrendous way to muddle things even further for an NHL referee.

*The Bruins power play went 0-for-4 with just five shots on net and totally wasted three man advantage chances in the second period in a 1-0 game. It was a rare off game for a B's PP that's been very good, but they can't afford to have bad games these days.

*One combined shot on net for Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk isn't going to get it done for the trio of second-year Bruins forwards. They need to step up their games and bring a little more of what made them effective last season.  

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