Bruins’ Faceoff Struggles Among Takeaways From Loss To Blue Jackets

The Boston Bruins couldn’t extend their win streak to three games Saturday night.

The B’s lost 6-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena, dropping their December record to 4-6-2. This was the fourth game in which Boston allowed six or more goals this season.

Here are five takeaways from the loss.

1. Faceoff Losses Result In Goals Against
The Bruins are one of the top faceoff teams in the NHL (51.3 win percentage, fourth-best), but losses on draws led to multiple Blue Jackets goals in the first two periods.

A Gregory Campbell faceoff loss resulted in Scott Hartnell’s first-period goal. A neutral-zone faceoff win by Ryan Johansen in the first minute of the second period gave Columbus puck possession, which allowed it to enter the attacking zone, score and take a 2-1 lead. An offensive-zone faceoff win by Brandon Dubinsky helped the Blue Jackets move the puck to the point, where Kevin Connauton scored on a wrist shot to make it 3-1 at 6:32 of the second period.

Boston lost the faceoff battle 36-28 overall and won just 28 percent (5 for 18) of its offensive-zone draws.

2. Patrice Bergeron Extends Point Streak To Three Games
Bergeron scored just 20 seconds after Scott Hartnell opened the scoring for the Blue Jackets at 8:11 of the first period. Boston’s top center made a nice move to evade a diving Blue Jacket, then fired a wrist shot past Columbus goaltender Curtis McElhinney for his seventh goal and team-leading 27th point of the season. Bergeron now has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his last six games.

Bergeron left the game in the third period, but there doesn’t appear to be any cause for concern.

3. Niklas Svedberg Struggles With Rebound Control In Poor Performance
Svedberg was pulled from the net for the first time this season after he allowed Connauton’s second-period goal. Boston’s backup goalie struggled to control rebounds, even on shots that shouldn’t have resulted in one. He also needed David Krejci to make a save after giving up a juicy rebound late in the first period.

krjci

Svedberg made 12 saves on 15 shots for an .800 save percentage in 26:32 of ice time. He’s now 4-5-0 with a .918 save percentage and a 2.46 goals against average in 11 appearances this season.

4. Bruins Power Play Can’t Make an Impact
Boston’s power play scored in back-to-back games entering Saturday night, but it couldn’t generate any high-quality scoring chances against the 16th-ranked Columbus penalty kill. The Bruins were 0 for 3 with just three shots on goal with the man advantage.

5. Craig Cunningham Scores; One of Few Bruins Who Played Well
Cunningham scored the second goal of his NHL career late in the second period, when he redirected a pass from Campbell and beat Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis McElhinney. Cunningham is a smart, physical player who can play center or on the wing while also being reliable enough defensively to receive tough zone starts.

The Bruins need to play with more of a physical edge, and Cunningham is one player who could spark the team with his style of play. He at least deserves more ice time than Matt Fraser, who hasn’t scored since Nov. 21. Cunningham probably won’t play on the top line alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic for much longer, but he’s the best option for the right wing spot on the fourth line.

Click to watch the Milan Lucic-Dalton Prout fight>>

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Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images

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