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.