The Boston Bruins laid another stinker in their round-robin opener Sunday losing 4-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers. This was the second consecutive 4-1 loss for the Bruins since the NHL restart began with exhibition games last week.
The Bruins were also flat as a doornail in their 4-1 exhibition loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets this past Thursday. While the round-robin games understandably could be taken as exhibition games considering they’re played for what amounts to meaningless seedings in a neutral arena without fans, this game was another reminder that things are happening fast and before the Bruins know it, they will be playing a team in playoff mode after winning their Stanley Cup qualifier.
With that, here’s your BHN Five Takeaways:
‘Make A Better Friggin Play With The Puck!’
Those were the always blunt words of Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy following another lackluster effort from a Bruins team that needs to be reminded they’re not playing in their usual summer leagues right now. Cassidy didn’t mince words when asked what he thought his team needs to improve on before they play another round-robin game Wednesday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Some details with the puck, turnovers that came back to bite us, lack of a shot mentality, trying to make the extra pass,” Cassidy added. “Like I said before, there’s probably a bit of a carry-over probably from the previous two, three weeks. You’ve been off that long, you’re not in that keep-it-simple mode yet. That’s what cost us the hockey game. It wasn’t that we broke down all over the ice. We made some individual mistakes, and we’ll have to correct those.”
The Michael Raffl (goal, assist) goal that put the Flyers up 1-0 5:33 into the second period was a perfect example of that. The Bruins defense misread the Flyers attack as they broke the zone and of all people, Patrice Bergeron lost his man down the middle.
— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) August 2, 2020
That and so many other plays Sunday led Cassidy to just unload when asked to expand on his assessment by hall of fame hockey scribe Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe.
“We need to make a better friggin play with the puck, is what I’m thinking, in some of those situations that we’re capable of doing!” Cassidy exclaimed.
The 2020 and two-time Jack Adams Award finalist is absolutely right and if the Bruins don’t at least start doing that before this. …whatever the hell you want to call it is over, they will get run over by a team that has already been playing meaningful hockey in the Qualifiers!
What’s Up With The Powerplay?
The Bruins finished second, behind the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL on the powerplay in the regular season scoring at a 25.2 percent clip. On Sunday, just as they couldn’t 5-on-5, rhe Bruins couldn’t ‘make a friggin play’ and went 0-for-3.
Obviously, this Bruins powerplay may change drastically once the 2020 offseason actually hits but Torey Krug isn’t gone yet so the Bruins need to perform like they can on the man-advantage. Following the loss, even Krug admitted that the Bruins need to stop getting a bit cutesy and press the play when they’re a man up and even strength.
“We’ve got to get a little bit greasier and raise our compete level,” said Krug who is known for his finesse. “We have some things to fix. And you can count on this group to do that.”
Now the mission is to do it before a potential runaway momentum train hits them in the first round.
Bruins Need Emotional Rescue
No fans. A pandemic. Almost five months of no real hockey. No one can blame the Bruins or any team in this 24-team NHL Return if they’re struggling to muster up emotion right now and find that playoff intensity. That being said, the Bruins are now headed to their second round-robin game, Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning and it’s about time they deal with the elements. Game 1 of the Pittsburgh Penguins-Montreal Canadiens Qualifier was the most watched game of the season with the exception of the Winter Classic. Again, winning or losing isn’t the end all, be all in the round-robin but having your game be ready for playoff hockey when it comes is and the Bruins need an Emotional Rescue to find that ASAP!
“We kind of have to look ourselves in the mirror here & get ready for Wednesday,” said forward Chris Wagner who scored the Bruins lone goal. “Playing against Tampa, if we show up and we’re not at our best, we could be in trouble.”
Halak Not To Blame
Unfortunately, if Tuukka Rask had started this game, that’s all a too large portion of the Bruins fanbase and local media would be talking about but since it was anyone but Rask, the goalie won’t be the scapegoat here. The truth is, there’s no way that Jaro Halak – who made 25 saves on 29 shots – should handle the blame here, nor should Rask have had he started. The Bruins’ defense was an absolute disaster in their own end and coming through the neutral zone. They kept trying to make the pretty play when as Krug and Cassidy inferred above, just make a play. Time to get back to the nitty-gritty and the goaltending will be there.
Bruins Roster Changes On Horizon?
As far as the goaltending goes, Cassidy said Rask was feeling better but he’s still a question mark for the game against the Lightning on Wednesday. What about the rest of the lineup? Wingers Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase skated again Sunday in an optional pre-game skate and while Kase likely needs more reps and skates, could the 6’2, 226-pound Ritchie provide that physical and emotional spark the Bruins are lacking? Cassidy wasn’t asked about that scenario postgame but it’s definitely something to watch.