Ottawa Senators

Bruins guilty as charged of playing down to the competition — again

Bruins guilty as charged of playing down to the competition — again

BOSTON — When something happens to a hockey team on multiple occasions during the regular season, it becomes more than a coincidence.

The Bruins are obviously one of the best teams in the NHL based on their record, their body of work, and their commanding 10-point lead in the Atlantic Division, but they are far from perfect. One of the team's worst team is their tendency to play down to the competition as they have done time and time again this season, and as they did in Tuesday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the lowly L.A. Kings at TD Garden.

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Just in the last couple of weeks the B's have dropped games to last-place teams in the Kings and Chicago Blackhawks and dropped a thoroughly disinterested game to the Ottawa Senators at the start of their last road trip. Earlier this season, they lost a completely uninspired game to the worst team in hockey when they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Red Wings in Detroit.

Bruce Cassidy said he was happy with the team's effort and wouldn’t put the loss in the same category as when the B’s dropped five in a row in their worst losing streak during his tenure coaching the team, and they certainly had plenty of chances to beat Los Angeles while throwing 40 shots on net.

“There are 82 of these [games]. I thought we certainly played well enough to win. Not very happy getting only one point tonight, some nights you’re satisfied [with that result],” said Cassidy, of the overtime loss to Los Angeles. “In terms of how we played the game, the process part of it, there was better things than, say, two weeks ago [headed into the losing streak].”

But commendable effort or not, it feels like the Bruins are taking the dregs of the NHL pretty lightly based on where they are in the standings and the different, higher level of execution and energy when playing teams like Washington and Tampa Bay. Patrice Bergeron hoped that wasn’t the case and paid tribute to the results proving that every team in the league is to be taken seriously, but the way the B’s play isn’t really a reflection of taking the league’s worst teams seriously.  

“You hope not. [Looking past teams] is definitely the last thing you want to do. In this league there isn’t any team that you can take lightly,” said Bergeron, who scored his third goal in five games since coming back from a lower-body injury in the OT defeat. “You look at teams like Ottawa that are really hard to play against. This team plays hard. I don’t know their stats 5-on-5, but they are a really good 5-on-5 team and I think they showed that [in the loss].”

It doesn’t feel like these careless losses to the weak sisters of the NHL aren’t going to hurt the Bruins in the long run given how far ahead they currently are in the division. But losses to Ottawa, Detroit and now L.A. does show a lack of focus and concentration that could come back to bite the B's if they aren’t seriously challenged by anybody in the rest of the regular season.

More than anything else, though, it gives lousy teams hope that when they come to Boston they might catch the Bruins napping, and that doesn’t exactly make the B’s a hard team to play against, or the TD Garden a place to be feared by the handful of teams scraping the bottom of the barrel in the NHL.

Talking Points: Patrice Bergeron the only bright spot in brutal Bruins loss

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Talking Points: Patrice Bergeron the only bright spot in brutal Bruins loss

GOLD STAR: Anthony Duclair toiled with the Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets after some solid initial success in the desert with a 20-goal season on his resume, but it feels like the 24-year-old is enjoying a second life with the Ottawa Senators.

Duclair finished with a pair of goals and three points against the Bruins on Monday night and was making things happen pretty much every time he was on the ice. Duclair finished with two goals, three points, a plus-3 rating, six shots on net and five giveaways in his 16-plus minutes of ice time. Duclair’s first goal of the night gave the Senators a 2-0 lead and essentially put the Bruins deep in the hole before he iced things at the very end with an empty netter.

BLACK EYE: Torey Krug finished a minus-3 with just a single shot on net, and it could have been even worse if he hadn’t jumped off the ice just before Ottawa scored the first goal of the game in the first period. As it was, Krug had five shot attempts that were either blocked or missed their target and didn’t have enough offensively to help push along the Bruins power play when they really needed to do their damage.

Later on in the game Krug had some defensive issues as well and was among a number of Bruins players that finished with some pretty rough plus/minus numbers including Jake DeBrusk (minus-4), David Krejci (minus-3) and Brett Ritchie (minus-2).

TURNING POINT: The Bruins got a goal from Patrice Bergeron toward the end of the first period to halve Ottawa’s lead and went into the first intermission with a decent chance at winning the game. But then the Bruins came out and gave up a goal in the first two minutes of the second period and essentially let things slip through their fingers at that point. It was a botched play from Tuukka Rask, who attempted to play a puck behind the Boston net and just threw the puck to Vladislav Namestnikov, who set up Chris Tierney for the eventual game-winning goal.

It typified the gift goals that the Bruins gave them on the evening and made it clear it wasn’t going to be their night.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron missed the previous seven games with a lower-body injury and returned to be one of the best players on the ice for either team. Certainly, he was the best player on the ice for the Bruins after scoring a first period goal that got the Bruins in the game.

Bergeron finished with six shots on net, 10 shot attempts and 16-of-25 face-off wins to go along with a blocked shot in 21:43 of ice time. It would appear that Bergeron didn’t have any ill effects from the injury and was fully ready to take on a regular, intense workload after coming back from the injury. The only good news of the night was how good Bergeron looked in his return from injury.

BY THE NUMBERS: 38 – the number of saves for Anders Nilsson, who was a massive factor for the Senators shutting down the Boston power play when it really mattered and holding the Bruins to just two goals on 40 shots.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He’s a true hero...he inspired us all with everything he did...we're going to miss him dearly." –Torey Krug to reporters on the passing of Bruins fan and ALS awareness advocate Pete Frates, who courageously inspired so many during his fight with ALS before succumbing to it this week.

HAGGERTY: Is complacency the only thing that can derail Bruins?>>>

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NHL Highlights: Bruins suffer second straight regulation loss vs. lowly Senators

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NHL Highlights: Bruins suffer second straight regulation loss vs. lowly Senators

FINAL SCORE: Senators 5, Bruins 2

IN BRIEF: The Bruins put forth a subpar effort against the Senators, sleepwalking through most of the game en route to a second straight loss. The silver lining for the team was that Patrice Bergeron scored in his first game back after missing seven straight games with an injury.

BOX SCORE

BRUINS RECORD: 20-5-6 (46 points)

HIGHLIGHTS

ANISIMOV OPENS THE OTTAWA SCORING QUICKLY

B'S ALLOW EASY GOAL TO ANTHONY DUCLAIR

BERGERON CUTS THE LEAD IN HALF OFF FEED FROM PASTRNAK

BRUINS ALLOW ANOTHER MIND-BOGGLING GOAL

PAGEAU'S EMPTY-NET GOAL PUTS THINGS SEEMINGLY OUT OF REACH

JAKE DEBRUSK'S LATE GOAL

UP NEXT:
@ Washington Capitals, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network

HAGGERTY: Is complacency the only thing that can derail Bruins?>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.