The Boston Bruins five-game win streak ended with a giant thud in Vancouver Saturday night as the Canucks throttled the Bruins 9-3.
New Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Toffoli – whom the Bruins came close to acquiring – had two goals and an assist; Troy Stecher had a goal and two assists; former Bruin Louis Eriksson and Bo Horvat each had a goal and an assist and Adam Gaudette, Tanner Pearson and Elias Pettersson all lit the lamp for the Canucks.
David Pastrnak had two goals to pull within five of the 50-goal plateau and Chris Wagner scored for the Bruins.
After allowing six goals on 27 shots, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was pulled in favor of Jaro Halak who came in and allowed three more Canucks goals on eight shots.
The Bruins (39-11-12, 90 points) maintained their five-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning (40-15-5, 85 points) as the Lightning lost to the Arizona Coyotes 7-3.
Here’s your Five Takeaways
Bruins Play From Behind Again
Playing in the tail end of their sixth back-to-back since returning from their break back on January 31 and in the final game of a four-game road trip, the Bruins looked like most teams would in that situation, tired and road-weary. That being said, they have let a disturbing trend creep in recently even when they were winning: slow starts. The Bruins were able to fight their way back on Friday night after falling behind 3-1 to the Calgary Flames. A comeback was not in the cards Saturday though. The Bruins again gave up the game’s first goal and again were outplayed in the opening period. It’s a recent habit that the club needs to correct.
Playing from behind in the NHL is a losing game. That is especially so when playing against desperate teams like the Canucks. The Bruins played with fire and were not burnt in Calgary. They played with fire and were burnt in Vancouver. This is an area coach Bruce Cassidy will need to correct for the stretch drive.
Expect the Bruins to stress this at practice on Monday and to make a point to come out strong against the Flames on Tuesday night. Slow starts cannot and should not be tolerated by Cassidy.
Not Time To Panic With Rask
Bruins fans and some media have made a nasty habit of calling out Rask and blaming him for the club’s shortcomings in previous years. He was not good on Saturday night. This game was also not completely his fault. Rask didn’t help the cause tonight, but the Bruins were outplayed in every facet. The defense looked all out of sorts, while the forwards completely failed to create sustained pressure.
Saturday night was a bad night for the entire Bruins roster. It isn’t time to panic with Rask. He’s been elite this season, and one bad night at the end of a road trip does not change that fact.
No Lack Of Heart
You are going to lose games during the course of a NHL season. This writer is of the firm belief that every team wins at least 20 games and loses at least 20. It is what you do in the other 42 that determines who you are as a team. Tonight was one of the 20 guaranteed losses for this Bruins team.
The best sign in this loss? The Bruins showed a lot of fight, even in a game that was decided in the second period. Charlie Coyle was willing to drop the gloves with Horvat, while Zdeno Chara tried to get Tyler Myers to drop the gloves. The Bruins did not back down on Saturday night.
It’s a small thing, but the heart displayed by the Bruins on this night caught the eye of many. It’s that heart, determination and never say die mentality that will help the Bruins this spring. It was on display even in a loss in Vancouver.
Less Quantity, More Quality
The Bruins responded nicely after a tough first period when it comes to possession. The Bruins posted a Corsi For% of 61.76% in the second period and 59.52% in the third period. Although they held the advantage in possession, it was more quantity than quality. The Canucks held a 4-1 high danger scoring chance for advantage (80%) in the second period. That mark was actually better than their 55.56% advantage in the opening frame.
The Bruins were soft in the high danger areas and the Canucks attacked them. Vancouver was able to find that soft underbelly against the Bruins defense and it proved to be the difference. The Bruins have always been a good possession team. On the face of it, they were again on Saturday. A deeper dive shows that the Bruins failed to get quality looks on Saturday.
Focus Turns To Deadline
Ondrej Kase will join the Bruins in Boston over the next few days. Kase was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks on Friday for David Backes, Axel Andersson and a 2020 first-round pick. The Bruins are not yet done when it comes to trades. Our very own Jimmy Murphy has connected the Bruins to Montreal Canadiens forward Ilya Kovalchuk.
On Friday, Murphy also connected the Bruins to former center Joe Thornton. Thornton recently admitted that he would consider waiving his no-trade clause to play for a contender.
Stay tuned to Boston Hockey Now for all of the latest leading into Monday’s deadline.