The Boston Bruins have been outscored 13-4 in their last two games and to say their defense has been bad, would be putting it kindly. Yes, their blue line may be depleted and inexperienced but one of the team’s emerging veteran leaders made one thing abundantly clear following their latest debacle, a 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers Friday night.
“Yeah, absolutely, this doesn’t happen here,” defenseman Brandon Carlo said only 24 hours after the Bruins had suffered another embarrassing defeat (7-2) to the New York Islanders.
Carlo has been wearing the ‘A’ usually worn by the injured David Krejci for the last three games and the pride and accountability the 24-year-old rearguard exuded following one of the worst losses in his young career showed why the team put a temporary letter on his jersey. Carlo wanted the media, the fans and most of all his teammates to know, he’s more than willing to have the buck stop with him if that’s what it takes to get the defense and the team back on track.
“And it can’t go on any further than this,” Carlo said with authority. “There’s been times my first couple of years we’ve had one game like that but we’ve always bounced back — so this is definitely unacceptable and we have to look in the mirror, move forward, recognize and learn from the last two days.”
The Boston Bruins have clearly missed the puck-moving skills of Matt Grzelcyk (lower-body) who actually could return to action tomorrow for the first time since Feb. 10. However, as they have in their last two playoff defeats to the Tampa Bay Lightning and then the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 StanleyCup Final, the Boston Bruins have missed having a rugged and physical presence down low, specifically in the form of defenseman Kevan Miller. Missing emerging stay-at-home defenseman Jeremy Lauzon isn’t helping either. That in turn has affected the Bruins’ ability to turn the play back the other way in a faster and more efficient manner.
“We’re a team that plays fast, and we haven’t exactly done that the last two games,” Carlo pointed out. “I think we are just getting outmuscled down low. There’s opportunities for us there to converge, have three guys on the puck and move it out from there.”
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy concurred with Carlo, who was a plus -1 in 18:46 on Friday night.
“We’re trying to get through a stretch here with a back end that’s still sorting things out,” Cassidy said. “They’re a very young group. A couple of things have to happen — they have to play better and understand what they can get away with. There’s too many turnovers and too much reckless play.
Second part is, knowing we have some valuable guys out — the stiffness in front with Lauzon and Miller, and the puck-mover in Gryz — as a team, you have to pick up that [defensive] group. That means an extra save along the way. That means secondary scoring and working hard to get back into your own end as forwards — to limit the damage, win wall battles, so we don’t have to defend a lot. The rest of the group can pick up an area that is diminished due to injury.”