Bruins frustrated 'but not discouraged' by losing streak


Bruins frustrated 'but not discouraged' by losing streak

BOSTON – The Bruins are officially hitting their first really rough patch of the season where massive injuries and a youthful lineup are beginning to take their toll. 

The Bruins scrapped for only one goal and couldn’t overcome several execution mistakes in the defensive zone en route to a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden that completed a home-and-home Atlantic Division sweep. The struggling Black and Gold have lost three in a row for the first time all season, and have lost six of their last eight games while reality appears to be setting in with a woefully undermanned group of players.  

“We played a great game [on Saturday night], but you know just not good enough. [You] gotta dig deeper and find some ways to get some points,” said Tuukka Rask. “But obviously we haven’t been out-worked or out-battled. That’s not the case and that’s a positive, so we just gotta find a way to get some points.”

The Bruins actually outshot the Leafs by a 39-25 margin during the game and showed pretty good energy despite it being the second night of back-to-back games, but a couple of Brandon Carlo miscues and an 0-for-4 on the power play really conspired to blow up the Bruins. Now the Bruins stand in 14th place among 16 teams in the Eastern Conference, and are four points out of a playoff spot with less than two weeks until Thanksgiving. 

So the Bruins have to hope they don’t lose any more ground during a West Coast trip through California that hasn’t been too kind to them over the last handful of seasons. The bad news is that it’s going to be a challenge against some strong teams all the way across the country, but at least they’re not Eastern Conference teams that have saddled the Bruins with an 0-3-3 record in six tries against them this season. 

The three losses in a row have the Bruins frustrated at this point with a lineup that’s missing David Krejci, David Backes, Ryan Spooner and Adam McQuaid among others, and one that has also been at the mercy of a few inconsistent young players to this point as well. The Bruins have been able to stay afloat to this point to the credit of their core group and the hard-working Bruins coaching staff, but that could change if the B’s aren’t mindful of the situation. 

“You need points. [Friday] night we were a minute away, and we just couldn’t close. Then tonight I thought we were right there for most of the night. Just, again, around the net they were better than us. So we’re frustrated, but not…we’re not discouraged,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’re playing hard, just you go through these lulls where you need to be a little bit better.

“If you’re not then it seems to go against you. So if you continue to play hard, things will go your way and that’s the mindset we need to have out West because we’re playing good teams out [on the ice]. We can’t start feeling sorry for ourselves because it’s not going our way – and I don’t think we will. We’ve got good character and I think the guys will keep playing hard.”

The good news to this point is that the Bruins have continued to play hard despite the adversity coming their way, and the results have allowed them to do just that. It remains to be seen how much that intrepid, unbending attitude is going to stick with the Bruins if things continue to turn away from the hockey club as the season unfolds. 

Morning Skate: After another B's comeback, looking toward playoffs

File photo

Morning Skate: After another B's comeback, looking toward playoffs

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while some inspiring kids march their lives in every city across the country.

*Here’s the podcast version of this week’s 98.5 the Sports Hub hockey show where FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ryan Johnston and yours truly talked about the ref’s treatment of Marchand, the comeback win over Dallas, Ryan Donato and what the Bruins lineup might look like in the playoffs.

*Ottawa Senators coach and aspiring Bond villain Guy Boucher knows that his job performance is going to be evaluated at season’s end just like that of his underperforming players.

*The Bruins playoff marketing ad chastising Mike Felger for his early season hot take is drawing plenty of attention and praise, including from Forbes Magazine.

*Here’s a cool behind-the-scenes story about how "Hockey Night in Canada" comes together on a weekly basis to be the very heartbeat of NHL coverage in Canada.

*Sean Monahan’s season is over with the Calgary Flames as they plummet out of playoff contention in the Western Conference.

*For something completely different: The March For Our Lives is not only inspiring to somebody like me, but a sign that things are changing in our country. There is a sea change coming and it’s long past time for it to happen.  


Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

AP Photo

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

GOLD STAR: Every once in a while Brad Marchand wills the Bruins to a win that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had, and that happened again on Friday night with a three-point explosion for No. 63 in the final 20 minutes. Marchand finished with a goal and three points in 19:57 of ice time along with a plus-2 rating, and played a key role in the three-goal outburst that allowed the B’s to vanquish a 2-0 deficit. It was Marchand that opted not to shoot from the face-off dot with a look at the net in the closing seconds, and instead dropped it down low to David Pastrnak as he curled around the net and pushed a puck past Kari Lehtonen for the game-winner. Marchand finished with two shots on net, eight total shot attempts and a number of big plays in the third period redirecting pucks in close, kicking off shorthanded scoring plays and then setting up clutch game-winners in the final 15 seconds of the game. It’s the kind of night where Marchand played like an MVP even if he isn’t going to get much of a sniff at the Hart Trophy. 

BLACK EYE: Jamie Benn scored a shorthanded goal for the Dallas Stars, but he also jumped up in the air and clobbered Brad Marchand from behind with a completely unnecessary hit in the third period that went without a penalty being called. Instead it seemed to incense Marchand, who never gave up in the final sequence and ultimately fed a pass to David Pastrnak down low for the game-winner with just 11.1 seconds remaining in the game. Benn finished a minus-2 for Dallas while being on the ice for a pair of goals against, had a brutal 1-for-7 performance in the face-off dot and really acted like a punk on the play with Marchand in the third period. Benn is a better player than that and shouldn’t be resorting that level on a fellow star player like Marchand. 

TURNING POINT: Once again the Bruins really turned things around in the third period while outscoring the Stars by a 3-0 margin, and really flooding the Dallas net with 10 of their 36 shots on net for the night. It all started with a relentless shift from Boston’s top line where Riley Nash made a pass from his knees before taking a big hit, and then Brad Marchand redirected a David Pastrnak shot from the slot off his leg and into the net for Boston’s first goal. That first score finally allowed the Bruins to begin building some momentum, score each of the next two goals as the game slipped away from Dallas and once again proved themselves as a hockey club that one doesn’t ever doubt in the third period. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Tuukka Rask had a career-high 40 saves and turned away some really good looks from the Dallas offense while showing exactly what the Bruins can be capable of when their goaltending is on point. The only goals that beat Rask were a first period score with droves of traffic in front of the net, and a second period shorthanded score for Jamie Benn where he pulled one of those unconventional finishing moves on Rask at the very end. Rask made 11 saves on the Dallas power play alone during a trio of PP chances, and made a crucial leg pad save on Antoine Roussel in the third period that helped open things up for the goal-scoring outburst late in the game. Hopefully the strong, resounding performance from Rask answers some of the questions about some of his recent so-so performances between the pipes.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 29 – the number of goals this season for David Pastrnak as he readies to become only the ninth Bruins player to hit the 30-goal plateau in back-to-back seasons over the last 35 years of franchise history. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Resiliency. We didn’t want to go quietly for sure. We can live with the end result as long as we play the right way. The end result went our way again in the end, and I think that’s a credit to the guys.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN about another comeback win for the Black and Gold.