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Five Takeaways: Bruins Need To Sweat More, Ritchie Physical In 5-2 Loss To Flames



Maybe it was the first game back from a four-game road trip or maybe the Boston Bruins simply didn’t have it but for the second straight game, the Bruins laid a stinker, losing 5-2 to the Calgary Flames at TD Garden Tuesday night. On the heels of a 9-3 blowout loss to the Canucks in Vancouver, the Bruins just didn’t have that rebound jump they usually do after a loss and dropped their second straight game.

After Chris Wagner had pulled the Bruins to within one goal to make it a 3-2 Flames lead 13:09 into the second period, the Bruins couldn’t parlay any momentum gained and with 1:30 left in regulation, Mikael Backlund (two-goal, assist) scored the first of two consecutive Flames goals in 41 seconds, with the second being an empty-netter. 

Brad Marchand had the other Bruins goal, a shorthanded tally at 10:08 of the second period to tie the game at one, but again, like the Wagner goal later, the Bruins couldn’t find the spark a short-hander usually provides and thanks to two Sean Monahan goals 1:12 apart later in the period, the Bruins found themselves down 3-1 headed to the final frame. 

Matthew Tkachuk scored the first goal of the game 11:35 into the opening frame and also had two assists. David Rittich made 26 saves between the pipes for the Flames.

Tuukka Rask also had 26 saves for the Bruins. 

Bruins Were Looking For A Game Of Shinny

After the Bruins and Flames combined for six goals in the first period of the Bruins’ 4-3 win at Calgary last Friday, the Bruins were apparently expecting a game of shinny in Boston Tuesday night. The Bruins were a turnover machine, coughing the puck up 13 teams and more importantly not playing within their structured system.

“Clearly not good enough,” a frustrated Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I thought some guys came to play and some guys didn’t. Didn’t break a sweat, some of them it looked like. I’m sure there was effort, they were trying, they were just in between, couldn’t execute or whatever. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t good enough.”

They finished with 13 turnovers and the Flames first goal by Tkachuk was the direct result of an errant clear by McAvoy and then basically the Bruins treating the puck like a hot potato as they tried to clear the zone.

With the exception of the Marchand shorty 10:08 into the second period, the Bruins looked discombobulated in their own zone again through the middle frame and then for the first 12 minutes of the third. In fact, they iced the puck four times in the first eight minutes of the final frame, seemingly afraid to cough the puck up under the suffocating Flames’ forecheck. 

“We definitely had a little bit of that tonight,” Marchand acknowledged when asked if he thought he and his teammates got “a bit too cute” Tuesday. “We lost a lot of battles; we weren’t keeping it simple and especially on that ice. It’s tough to make plays on that ice so you gotta keep it very simple. We didn’t do enough of that. We didn’t get enough shots to the net when we had opportunities. So a little bit more of that and it will go our way.”

Too Much Weight Fell On Fourth Line

On a rare night when not just ‘The Perfection Line’ was off, the second and third lines pulled a complete disappearing act. As a result, the onus fell on the fourth line of Sean Kuraly, Par Lindholm and Wagner. As mentioned above, Wagner pulled his team to within one goal late in the third period but it just didn’t seem to matter as the other three lines had one of those nights they’ll just need to “Go to box, feel shame and then you go free” in their minds and move on to their tilt with Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars on Thursday at the Garden. 

“They were our best line in terms of finding pucks and getting it through the neutral zone,” Cassidy said. “We had a tough time and some of that’s on our defense. I thought we were pretty stubborn, turning pucks over in the middle of the ice. We have some forwards that are risk-reward, we live with that with certain guys. We know that it can happen at the other end, but I just thought against a team that was playing a passive one-two-two in the neutral zone, we just did not — we were stubborn. We kept wanting to put the puck in the middle of the ice and it wasn’t there and it came back on us. We paid the price.”

Kuraly had an assist on the Wagner goal and finished a plus 1 in 14:17 TOI and 19 shifts. Lindholm also assisted on the Wagner tally and was a plus 1 in 13:50 TOI and 19 shifts, while Wagner was a plus 1 in 14:52 TOI and 19 shifts. 

Meanwhile, no other forward had a plus rating and David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Charlie Coyle and newcomer Nick Ritchie were all minus -2. That prompted Cassidy to mix things up on the second and third lines as the game went on.

“I didn’t see much energy, much offense, much willingness to recover pucks,” Cassidy replied when asked what prompted the line shuffling. “The Coyle line had a rare off night. They were just fighting it, so you try to kind of mix it up a little bit. Krejci and [Jake] DeBrusk haven’t produced a whole lot lately, so it’s just get a guy away from a guy for a while, see if it loosens them up. Sometimes it works; tonight, it did not.”

Ritchie Gets A Mulligan

After being traded to the Bruins Monday at around 3:45 PM ET, Ritchie had to hop a six-hour flight to Boston, be at Warrior Arena by 9 AM for the Bruins’ 11 AM morning skate, face the media around noon, get acclimated to his new dressing rooms and teammates and play a game at 7 PM ET against a team in the Flames, fighting for their playoff lives. The fact that he laid a hit on former Bruin Milan Lucic on his first shift and finished the game with a team-leading seven hits after the whirlwind 27 hours he had can make up for the fact he was one of those aforementioned players that finished the game at a minus 2. Ritchie played 14:17 in 19 shifts and at least the 6-foot-2, 234-pound winger brought the as advertised physical element in his Bruins debut. It’s also not his fault that his teammates didn’t. 

“I thought he was fine. I’m not going to judge him on a — he flew in here yesterday,” Cassidy said of his new winger. “He’s trying to get acclimated. There has to be a decent amount of period before we see what we got, and then go from there. I’d rather not, I’d rather watch some tape and see if, did he finish checks, did he get inside? Some of the details he’s going to bring to us. Rather look at the whole group, and we just did not have our — the guys we rely on to play, play well, had a tougher time tonight. And it kind of showed up in the end.”

Marchand Stays Hot

Marchand’s shorthanded goal extended his franchise lead in shorties to 27. Marchand also extended his current point streak to seven games. He has two lamplighter and eight helpers during that span. 

Rask’s Home Point Streak Snapped 

With the regulation loss Tuesday, Rask saw his home point streak snapped at eighteen games. That was the first regulation loss for Rask on TD Garden ice this season and he’s now 12-1-6 there. Rask wasn’t bad and with the exception of the first Backlund goal that put the Flames back up by two late, Rask gave his team a chance to win. The only problem of course was the timing of that goal and like his team did for most of the game, he seemed distracted there.

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