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. 

A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence


A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

BRIGHTON, Mass – It sounds like the toughness quotient might be going up quite a bit higher for the Bruins in the near future.

Adam McQuaid may be cleared to play as soon as Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, or at least later on in the week if it doesn’t happen against the rough-and-tumble, Metro Division Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-5 hard-nosed defender has been out for nearly two months with a broken right fibula, but has been back skating with the Bruins for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t know if Monday he’ll be cleared, but he’s getting close. He’s practicing with us, so it’s imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact day,” said Cassidy of McQuaid, who was one of a handful of players along with Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Frank Vatrano, Paul Postma and Anton Khudobin that skated on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.

There certainly may be some rust in McQuaid’s game after missing the last 24 cgames dating back to the Oct. 19 injury. Ddding another tough customer and D-zone warrior certainly won't hurt the Bruins. In the short term, the presence of McQuaid could protect some of B's top players like Brad Marchand who has received some questionable hits over the last couple of months. In the long term his presence adds more size, strength and toughness in the defensive zone.

In terms of pairings it would be logical to swing Kevan Miller back over to the left side, and potentially pull rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup once McQuaid is ready to play. But Bruce Cassidy indicated it won’t be that simple, and there may be times when the Bruins roll seven defensemen given their strength in numbers once McQuaid comes back.

“If you take the last guy in, Grzelcyk, [out of the lineup] then you’re back to your four righty [defensemen]. We had mixed levels of success with that, and then it’s a matter of who on the right Is going to come out if he stick with the three lefties,” said Cassidy. “That’s an internal discussion that we’ve already started to have. He will definitely help the penalty kill. It could be a different lineup every night where we go with six D one night, and then go with seven D the next night. It will create good competition.”

McQuaid wants to temper the excitement now that he’s on the verge of a return, and is simply putting in work until he’s given the green light to play. The busy NHL schedule and the lack of quality practice time isn't the perfect scenario for the 31-year-old defenseman to return, so it’s simply a matter of doing what’s best for player and team.

“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously. I’ve missed a lot of time, but it’s a process. I just try to approach it like I’m not getting my hopes up too much,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 in the six games he did appear in. “We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. The more and more game-like situations you get in [can help].

“We haven’t gone too far down the road so I don’t know exactly [when I’ll return]. I’m just out there trying to get closer, but I’m excited about where I’m at and the possibility of moving forward. It’s been fun watching the guys, but I can’t wait to get back in there and be part of a winning hockey team again.”


Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now


Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while I still remain pretty conflicted about my thoughts on the Last Jedi. See yesterday’s morning skate for the full review.

*Happy Holidays from the Boston Bruins, who all wore spiffy Christmas-inspired suits into TD Garden for Saturday night’s game against the Rangers. The clear winners are Christmas Elf Brad Marchand and bedazzled Patrice Bergeron, but everybody is a winner when they’re in the holiday spirit.

*Here’s a blueprint for all 31 NHL teams to get an outdoor game next season if you’re really looking to run the concept into the ground.

*Everybody loves a goalie fight, and the Providence Bruins had one last night even if it was more like slightly angry hugging than actual fighting.

*This quick snippet from an Ottawa Senators radio broadcast this weekend is one of the oddest things I’ve heard in a while. No idea what took them down that path.

*Speaking of the Senators, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he has no idea why the Sens are having such big attendance problems at their arena. I can think of one reason: location, location and location.

*Larry Brooks goes over the Sean Avery memoir just in time for Christmas for all those looking for a stocking stuffer, or just looking for the perfect gift for that hockey rat in your life.

*Hacksaw Jim Duggan dropping the puck for a minor league hockey game is definitely something to brag about. Ho!

*For something completely different: 20 years later, the crazy story of how the blockbuster Titanic ultimately got made.