Perhaps it shouldn’t be all that surprising to see the Boston Bruins look sloppy and out-of-sync in giving up six goals after playing just two hockey games in the last 13 days due to a very unorthodox NHL schedule.
Maybe it’s just a simple, inexplicable NHL scheduling quirk or perhaps the Bruins were once due to play in European games overseas that ended up being scrapped due to COVID-19.
But whatever the reason, there was no denying the piles of rust on Boston’s game in their 6-3 loss to the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night. The defense was out of position and made poor choices both with and without the puck, new guys like Derek Forbort and Mike Reilly struggled and No. 2 center Charlie Coyle wasn’t very effective at his new spot either.
It all amounted to the new-look Boston Bruins showing that they still have a lot of work to do, and they truly haven’t had enough game action to begin sorting things out.
Unfortunately, the insurance policy behind all the B’s mistakes, rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman, experienced an off night as well giving up five goals on 24 shots in his worst performance as a pro hockey player.
Put it all together and it was a sloppy early season Boston Bruins game where there is clearly plenty of work to be done. The B’s coaching staff should have plenty of video evidence to call upon while ironing out the wrinkles.
As is usually the case, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was both blunt and accurate in his assessment of his scattershot B’s team after it was all over.
“Our breakdowns were bad in front of [the net],” said Cassidy. “Not a lot of quantity, but high quality. Just mistakes from the back end. It’s losing hockey is what it is. It’s how you lose games. You do dumb things and teams come back at you, and they finish. That’s what happened.
“Reilly and Carlo have played a lot together and I think they’ve had better nights. Gryz and Charlie, I thought, were our most effective pair. Part of the thinking throughout the year is how is the matchup for Gryz. Is it a big-bodied line? Konecny and Giroux aren’t big guys. Forbort and Clifton have played together at times. We have done that at times, and we will continue to do that at times. The other pair, we expect better out of them. Those guys have been in the league, and I didn’t think it was their best either.”
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Swayman wasn’t any better than the mistake-prone defense in front of him. The 22-year-old was aggressively out of position on a couple of plays where simple Flyers follow-ups led to some pretty easy goals against and Travis Konecny was able to beat Swayman cleanly to his glove hand for Philly’s insurance strike.
Konecny with a beautiful move and snipes it over the glove, 5-3 Fly Guys 😈 pic.twitter.com/1B3MuHH7D9
— Nasty Knuckles (@NastyKnuckles) October 21, 2021
There were rebounds too for a young goaltender that usually doesn’t give those up.
“He’s not going to be perfect every night and clearly he wasn’t tonight. It was not his best,” admitted Cassidy. “We needed some saves there when we broke down. That’s it. He just didn’t give them to us when we needed them.”
The confident Swayman was taking full accountability for it all afterward while smartly avoiding any critical words for the defensive hijinks happening in front of him.
“Obviously, I’m accountable for what happened,” said Swayman, who now has a 3.05 goals against average and an .885 save percentage in the first two games of the season. “I thought the team played great, great comeback in the second. I just want to do my job better, give them a better chance to win.”
The bottom line for the Bruins: It’s difficult to gauge exactly who and what they are given that they’ve played just two games in the last two weeks due to the schedule.
They will play five games in nine days beginning with Friday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, however, and Linus Ullmark gets his first chance against his old Sabres hockey club to turn this into a legitimate goaltending competition for the Boston Bruins.
But Wednesday night’s lackadaisical, disorganized loss to the Flyers pretty clearly illustrates that the Boston Bruins have a lot of work to do in order to straighten things out.