Julien on Bruins loss to Islanders: 'Didn't look to me like we were ready to play'

Julien on Bruins loss to Islanders: 'Didn't look to me like we were ready to play'

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.


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. 

NHL still debating possible discipline on Schenn-Krejci collision

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NHL still debating possible discipline on Schenn-Krejci collision

The NHL Department of Player Safety is still debating if supplemental discipline is needed for the Blues'  Brayden Schenn for the violent hit he delivered to the Bruins' David Krejci in the B's 2-1 overtime loss in St. Louis on Wednesday night. 

In the second period, Schenn clobbered David Krejci in the corner with a punishing hit to the head as the B’s playmaking center was facing him immediately after releasing the puck. Schenn was whistled for a two-minute minor for charging at the time of the collision, but luckily Krejci was able to remain in the game and played 15:54 of ice time in the loss.

Upon further review, it was very clearly a big, heavy hit delivered to Krejci’s head, but there were plenty of mitigating factors. Krejci had his head down until the last second while looking down at the puck on his stick and was hunched over as Schenn moved in to deliver a check on a player eligible to be hit. Schenn’s skates left the ice to finish the hit after impact, which made the collision look even worse to the casual observer, but that isn’t considered launching into a hit by the NHL’s standards.

Adding to the equation is that Schenn has been suspended twice by the NHL before, three games in 2016 for a charging hit on TJ Oshie and one game back in 2013.

Clearly, it’s a difficult call for the league as they try to deter hits to the head and reduce the number of concussions. Still, this would appear to be another situation where, as the league says, a player “assumed a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable." It’s absolutely similar to the Patrick Hornqvist/Charlie McAvoy hit from a few weeks ago that never ended up with any supplemental discipline for the Penguins hard-hitter despite plenty of hue and cry from the Bruins fans.

So what does everybody else think about this hit, and whether or not Schenn should be facing discipline from the NHL as a result of it?


Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

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Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.


TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.