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Haggs: Boston Bruins Showing Some Early Defense Concerns | BHN+

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Bruce Cassidy

Some of this is clearly about the boom-or-bust nature of the Boston Bruins schedule in the first month of the regular season where momentum, and the usual rhythm of games every other day, seems totally out of reach.

But there’s also some very legitimate concerns with this Bruins hockey club after a leaky, Charmin-soft Saturday night 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. After a decent first period where the Bruins and Maple Leafs were locked in a 1-1 hockey game, Boston loosened up with the puck, got noticeably soft around their net in the defensive zone and essentially handed the Leafs exactly what they wanted as Auston Matthews notched a pair of power play goals within four minutes of each other in the second period.

The loss in Toronto didn’t look, or feel, all that different than similarly unimpressive road losses to the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes a couple of weeks ago, raising some genuine caution flags about the B’s commitment to defense and the makeup of a blueline group revealing some soft spots. Perhaps the worst moment was one shift where Matt Grzelcyk and Mike Reilly were stuck on the ice together and overpowered by a Toronto group that hasn’t exactly been steeped in hardnosed hockey over the years.

It ended with John Tavares getting inside position on Reilly at the front of the net after Grzelcyk was guilty of soft play in his own end, and that sequence gave Toronto a commanding 4-1 lead in the opening minutes of the third period. After the game, there was clear frustration about a Boston Bruins team that honestly, truly has yet to embrace the “hard-to-play-against” identity that’s been a staple for years with the Black and Gold.

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Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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