There are certainly plenty of handy excuses for the dreadful, pathetic displays put on by the Boston Bruins over the last pair of games.
And aside from the win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Lake Tahoe, it’s really a stretch of four out of the last five games where the Bruins haven’t been at their best. The latest, and perhaps worst, blemish was a 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
The Bruins are missing half their opening night defensemen corps with Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon and Kevan Miller injured, and lacking a ton of net-front toughness and PK grit with both Lauzon and Miller missing simultaneously.
“We’re trying to through a stretch here where the back end is still sorting things out, and learning their way with a very young group,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “A couple things have to happen. They have to get better and recognize what they can get away with, and what they can’t. Too many turnovers and too much reckless play. We need to do a better job of coaching them up, no doubt. So that’s on us.
“But by the same token, when they get on the ice, they need to recognize how they can help us win games. The second part is knowing we have valuable guys out, the stiffness of Lauzon and Miller around the net and puck-moving with Gryz. One [defensemen] missing from each pairing. As a team we have to pick up that 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. There’s a little bit of that going on too to pick up the group that’s a little diminished right now.”
Clearly the Bruins aren’t as courageous with Lauzon and, especially, Miller missing as both the Islanders and Rangers have teed off on David Pastrnak with punishing hits and non-stop physical abuse. As it was some of the time last season, it was left to Brad Marchand to step up and stand up for his teammates as both Nick Ritchie and Trent Frederic mostly took a pass. Sure, Frederic had a couple of bit hits and nearly danced with Matt Martin at the end of the game, but by then it was way too late to make the necessary statement.
Where is the rugged, tough Bruins team that looked like they had something to prove in the truculence department with Zdeno Chara gone to Washington?