WASHINGTON – The Bruins dropped an absolute stink bomb on the ice at Capital One Arena against the Washington Capitals.
There’s no way other to put it losing 7-0 to the defending Stanley Cup champs on the night they raised their Stanley Cup banner to the rafters and celebrated with a raucous fan base. The Bruins were down 2-0 in the first 1:47 of the first period as the top line was pegged down for a goal allowed on its first shift and Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask fumbled their way into giving Evgeny Kuznetsov a point-blank power-play shot right at the doorstep.
Eventually, the Bruins crumbled in the second period after stabilizing briefly and Bruce Cassidy was left to wonder exactly what had just happened when spirits should be their highest. Instead, there were at least two really soft goals allowed by the goaltender, Boston’s top line got dominated at both ends of the ice and there was zero ability to sustain offense or puck possession against a team that’s already much bigger and stronger than the Bruins.
“It was just a lack of competitive spirit,” lamented Cassidy, after it was all over. “Opening night guys should be a little hungrier to play. But we were behind the 8-ball early and clearly weren’t ready to go. I expected a much better effort. You never know what the end result is going to be, but I didn’t expect this effort.
“I expected us to play like the Bruins typically do: Hard to play against, defending the slot and getting on top of people. But none of that happened tonight.”
The good news was that Patrice Bergeron got through the game healthy after back spasms and groin surgery had kept him out for all of training camp. Still, the bad news was that Bergeron had to skate for the final 30 minutes of the game after the Bruins had literally been gut-punched, and felt just as sheepish as the rest of the B’s for the performance they’d just dropped on the ice.
“We have a lot of work to do, to say the least. Right now what am I going to say? It was embarrassing to be out there,” said Bergeron. “We need to be a lot better, and hopefully we can use the [Buffalo] game for a quick reset and a quick refresh. There are going to be a lot of things we need to be better at.”
The question now becomes whether the Bruins should fire the game film from Wednesday night’s abomination directly into the sun and forget about it. After all, the Bruins always play poorly against Washington as evidenced by the 13 consecutive losses to the Caps dating to the 2013-14 season.
Or are there danger signs in the dreadful opener that the Bruins have real problems after a very disjointed camp that included a 10-day trip to China and that a rough start to the season might be dead ahead as a result?
“Because it’s Game One you always put a lot of emphasis on it and you might overanalyze it,” said Cassidy. “But we discussed this coming out of training camp that we weren’t where we thought we needed to be. So I guess ask me again in 24 hours what the response is [in Buffalo] and I’ll have a better answer to your question.”
So there’s quite a bit to read into the compass for this Bruins team based on how they fare against the Buffalo Sabres on a Thursday night in October. Who would have guessed that an early-season game against the lowly Sabres would carry that kind of import? Then again, who could have guessed that the Black and Gold would pull an absolute no-show in a national stage game against the Capitals on Opening Night?