Colorado Avalanche

Bruce Cassidy: 'We've just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities'

Bruce Cassidy: 'We've just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities'

BOSTON – It was only a matter of time before the Bruins got burned for playing like they could flick on a third period switch and beat everybody across the NHL.

After a number of third period comebacks and salvaged points over the last couple of weeks, the Bruins couldn’t pull the same trick against the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-1 loss at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was the first regulation loss on home ice for the Bruins this season at TD Garden and it was exactly what Boston deserved after managing just nine shots on net in the first two periods while making some simple mistakes that led to goals against at inopportune times.

“For us, [it was a] lack of urgency. We talked about it the other night, again tonight, some of that is definitely in our game early on. If we’re on our toes, I think we’re cleaner. I’m not going to say that we’re not going to execute from time to time, but it’s been an issue for us I think. Some of the unforced errors — I just look at the play, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] takes a hit, [Danton] Heinen goes back with the puck. If we’re playing the right way, we’re in and out of our end. We’re gone,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We go back with it and all of a sudden [it’s in the net]. We win a faceoff to start a period and we ice it instead of making a play. Now we’re in our end and there’s just a lot of details that are working us against us now. We’ve just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities in those situations, and live with the result.

“[It] doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I think we’re leaving plays on the table because our lack of urgency or understanding that teams are coming after us. They’re good teams. We got away with it for a while here, good for us, right? It’s a results-oriented business. But against the better teams, I think at some point, they will close out games. [The loss to the Avs] was a great example of that.”

The Heinen play really was the killer as it came midway through the second period, led to the Bruins running around in their own end and then ended with Ian Cole rocketing a slap shot past Jaroslav Halak from the top of the face-off circle. Then Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk botched defensive coverage in transition at the end of the second period, and that led to Andre Burakovsky scoring the insurance goal right at the end of the period.

At that point, it was over despite Boston outshooting Colorado by a 12-6 margin in the third period, and the Bruins have to hope that it was a lesson learned at this point. It may take a few games for the Bruins to snap out of some of their current bad habits, but there’s also that overall malaise that might be an unavoidable part of the team’s commanding 13-point lead in the Atlantic Division.

That being said, Brad Marchand spoke for all of Boston’s team leadership in knowing that the current state of being for the Black and Gold isn’t something that can sustainably bring success.

“It’s a losing game. You can’t continue to go down by a couple of goals, especially to good teams,” said Marchand. “Teams like that know how to win and how to keep a lead. No matter how many times you come back, it’s going to eventually catch up to you. We’ve had that, especially early on [in games]. We tend to be much better when we’re behind. I think then it’s a bit of a wakeup call and we all have to play good in order to come back.

“But we have to play that way from the first shift of the first period. If you want to win, if you want to be a good team and if you want to have a chance in the playoffs, you have to be able to do that all game along. It’s tough sometimes because the season can get long. That’s no excuse. We have to realize the mistakes that we’re making and improve if want to continue to get better. That’s what good teams do.”

It would behoove the Bruins to get things in order quickly with a slate of important games over the next week including a mid-week tilt with the Washington Capitals, and a pair of divisional games against Tampa Bay and Florida later on in the week. But there really isn’t any worry coming from the B’s about anybody distantly trailing them in the standings right now while 8-1-1 in their last 10 games overall.

Instead it’s about the Bruins themselves becoming the best hockey team that they can be and getting back into a groove where they are paying attention to details and doing the little things that lead to winning hockey.  

Hagg Bag Mailbag: Any worries about the B's? Let's hear 'em>>>

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Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (lower body) out Saturday against Colorado Avalanche

Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (lower body) out Saturday against Colorado Avalanche

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins will continue to be without Patrice Bergeron this weekend, but the B’s top center is making progress with his lower-body injury.

Bergeron, 34, took a positive step by participating in practice with his teammates for the first time since being injured on Friday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, though he was wearing a no-contact sweater and didn’t really mix in with his normal linemates for drills. Bruce Cassidy confirmed following practice that Bergeron won’t play Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche, but remained hopeful he may return early next week barring any setbacks.

“[He’s wearing] a red sweater; that’s good. He participated in some line rushes, but it wasn’t a heavy contact practice,” said Cassidy. “He won’t play [against Colorado], but once you have the red sweater on you’re that much closer. Monday [against Ottawa] now becomes more of a target date for us if there are no setbacks.”

It will mark the seventh straight game that Bergeron has missed with his lower-body injury and the ninth game of the past 11 games that he’s missed due to the nagging injury. The amazing thing: The Bruins have gone 6-0-2 thus far without Bergeron and have done a pretty good job of getting by having David Krejci, Charlie Coyle and others fill into his many different roles on the ice. 

Brett Ritchie skated in line drills and appears close to a return, but it remains to be seen which forward he might replace in the lineup. 

Here are the projected line combos and defense pairings based on practice Friday ahead of the big non-conference tilt Saturday against eth talented, explosive Avs:

Marchand-Coyle-Heinen

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Bjork-Lindholm-Ritchie

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Moore-Grzelcyk

 

Rask

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Talking Points from Bruins' 4-2 loss to the Avalanche

Talking Points from Bruins' 4-2 loss to the Avalanche

GOLD STAR: Gabriel Landeskog is a member of one of the NHL’s best lines and they got the upper hand on the Bruins and their Perfection Line on Thursday night. It was Landeskog that knifed through the Boston penalty kill in the first period to rattle a sniper shot past Jaroslav Halak that was ultimately slammed home by Nathan MacKinnon. 

Then Landeskog got his goal in the third period with the empty netter to ice the 4-2 Avalanche victory. The Colorado winger was strong throughout the game with the goal and two points along with five shots on net, a hit and a couple of blocked shots in 19:21 of active ice time. There was a time when the Bruins were fooling around with the idea of trading for Landeskog and he gave a pretty good showing on Thursday night of what he’s still bringing to the table.

BLACK EYE: Jake DeBrusk had a tough night. Not only did he have both a goal and a sweet assist wiped off the board by coach’s challenges, but he also finished with a team-worst minus-2 rating in his 16:19 of ice time. Honestly, DeBrusk deserved much, much better than what he got in Colorado at the end of a very long trip, but that is how the puck bounces sometimes. It’s encouraging that DeBrusk was creating offensive plays and moving with really strong skating legs at the end of the trip out West. Now, the left winger needs to push through and finally pile up some points offensively even after getting screwed by circumstances in Colorado.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins could have had a 3-1 lead in the second period where they would have seized the momentum back from Colorado after an apparent Karson Kuhlman goal. Instead, the Avs challenged the goal saying that David Krejci interfered with goalie Phillip Grubauer in front of the crease. The officials ruled in favor of the challenge and wiped out the goal and it did seem like the right call. The wiped out goal made a big difference as Colorado eventually tied things up in the second period and eventually won when another B’s goal was amazingly taken off the board in the third.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak was pretty damn strong again for the second game in a row. It was Pastrnak who scored the first goal in a dominant first period when he crashed home a pass from Brad Marchand. Pastrnak should have had a nifty assist when he no-look, backhanded a setup to DeBrusk all alone in front of the net. The second play was wiped out by a coach’s challenge for offside, but Pastrnak still finished with a goal, two points, 10 shot attempts and two takeaways in a whopping 21:59 of ice time. There will be plenty of reasons why the Bruins ran out of gas in the third period, but Pastrnak bears zero responsibility whatsoever for Boston falling on the losing end of things on Thursday night. He was brilliant.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of points that the Bruins ended up with on the four-game trip through Dallas, Arizona, Vegas and Colorado, which is an extremely positive way to start the season even if it ended with a third-period faltering vs. the Avs.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You almost can't believe it. It gets taken away from you twice. It's pissing me off." –Jake DeBrusk talking to reporters in Colorado about being in the middle of two Bruins goals that were wiped off the board by video replay.

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