BOSTON – If the Bruins have had some rocky moments over the last few weeks while losing six of their last eight games, the 4-2 loss to a lackluster New York Islanders on Tuesday night might just be rock-bottom.
The Bruins shot themselves in the foot repeatedly against the Isles while dropping themselves into a 3-0 hole thirty minutes into the game, and could only muster two goals despite amassing 50 shots on net and 95 total shot attempts. It started with Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask doing the keystone kops routine while crashing into each other behind the net, and opening things up for Anders Lee to stuff it into the open net. Perhaps trying to make up for it, Patrice Bergeron got caught pinching up ice and created an odd-man rush that turned into a Thomas Hockey score off the rush down to Tuukka Rask’s glove side.
- Highlights: New York Islanders 4, Boston Bruins 2
- Talking Points: Early exit for Rask vs. Islanders
- Bruins fall behind early, lose to Islanders, 4-2
The final piece of the mistake trifecta came when Rask couldn’t hold the post in the second period, and Nikolay Kulemin managed to squeeze a puck through Boston’s No. 1 goaltender to make it a 3-0 deficit, officially ending Rask’s evening of work. The Bruins managed to find a groove in the third period and even scored a couple of goals with a 23-shot barrage in the final 20 minutes, but it was too late with too many self-inflicted wounds for the Bruins by that point.
Those mistakes and the poor quality of the game’s opening 30 minutes had head coach Claude Julien questioning a lot of things after watching far too much inconsistency out of the Bruins as of late.
“It’s too big of a hole, but it’s a hole we dug in ourselves. To me, it’s not acceptable. Some of those mistakes on those goals are coming from our best players. The secondary scoring is there, yet we’re still not getting the scoring we should from a lot of our guys,” said Claude Julien. “So I think that until we can find, or some of our best players can find their games, we’re going to be playing these types of games, back and forth. [We’ll be] winning a big one, losing another one, and so on, so forth.
“What you saw in the third period, I don’t know why we don’t bring that in the first. We wait until we’re in a hole, and the desperation, and I guess our work ethic and our compete level, should be at that [level in] the first. Not in the third, when you’re down 3-0. So somehow we’ve got to find that. It’s not good enough, and we know that we struggle to score goals. Let’s be ready to play. The way we gave up goals tonight, didn’t look to me like we were ready to play.”
It wasn’t just the coach that felt that way, however, after watching a mistake-prone Bruins team with a perimeter-heavy offense simply take an Islanders team for granted before getting to work midway through the game. Patrice Bergeron has struggled offensively this season, and kept with that theme by hitting a post among his nine shot attempts in 20:41 of ice time in the losing effort. It was clear Bergeron is highly frustrated as one of Julien’s underachieving core players this season, and he recognized that the players were at fault falling shot against a hapless Isles group.
“[We all need to be] going back to playing our game and being ready from the drop of the puck. We talked about this last stretch before the [holiday] break. It was three games, now it’s two, but it was three games that we wanted to get those points from,” said Bergeron. “We needed to do the job and we didn’t do that tonight. We didn’t show up for the first two periods, and we paid for it.”
After giving up four goals in each of the six losses in the last eight games, the Bruins defense is also starting to slide back a little from their strong play out of the gate. That could ultimately be a death knell for the Black and Gold given their meager offensive production throughout this season, but it could also prompt the kind of needed changes that might turn things around for the Bruins.
The Bruins need a jolt of electricity to their team as they’re trending dangerously downward while playing a listless, uninspired brand of hockey that helped doom them to home losses against Colorado, Toronto and the Islanders in the last few weeks. It’s looking far too much like the same story playing out for the Black and Gold this year as it did in each of the last two disappointing seasons, so now it’s up to the Bruins decision makers to do something quickly and efficiently while it can still make a difference with a hockey club at a holiday season crossroads.