BOSTON – It’s easy to say it was just one of those rare, dreadful nights for the Boston Bruins.
Certainly, they probably felt that way when the boo birds materialized at the end of the game in a rarity at a TD Garden locale that’s seen so much winning over the last ten years with a strong, established core group of players.
But that group has been altered significantly this season and they continue to search for consistent footing against the stronger teams around the NHL.
On Sunday night, the B’s fell behind early, never got untracked offensively and once again looked inferior against the West’s best in dropping a 4-0 decision to the Calgary Flames at TD Garden. Unsurprisingly it was a bad night for the Perfection Line all-around as they were kept off the board, and it was a miserable evening for a Boston Bruins power play that’s still a little too boom-or-bust even if it’s now climbed to 10th in the NHL with a 21.7 percent success rate this season.
The Bruins finished 0-for-3 on the power play with just four shots on net and utterly collapsed a few minutes into the third period with a 2-on-0 shorthanded breakaway allowed that ultimately turned into a third chance score for the Flames as four B’s players watched at the Boston net.
Hard to believe the Bruins were on the power play here…true story pic.twitter.com/uThenTxYny
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) November 22, 2021
The Bruins obstinately tried to carry the puck down the walls or dump the puck in for PP zone entries, and each time they were thwarted by a Flames penalty kill sitting and waiting for them.
“The [top power play] got outworked…they got outworked, and we had a game plan to get into the zone,” said Boston Brins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “The Calgary PK is excellent, and they defend the blue line well. You need to try with the first pass to the middle so you can kick it out and we didn’t do it. That top group was stubborn tonight, very stubborn in their approach. Sometimes it works out for them because they’re elite players, but tonight it didn’t against a good kill, and it hurt us.”
It was a night when the Bruins PP was “too stubborn” while Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak finished a combined minus-6 with twice as many shot attempts missed/blocked (eight) than actually got on the net (four) against a gritty Calgary defense. The Bruins needed to work smarter and harder against a Calgary club that impressively didn’t mail it in during their seventh and final game of an arduous road trip, and they didn’t do either one.
“Tonight, we actually weren’t bad defensively. I think the power play really hurt us. We didn’t generate anything on it. If anything, it generated momentum for them,” said Cassidy. “The power play kind of took any life out of us. The top guys did not have a good night in any area of the game, and that’s an area where they could have helped us.
“We have an identity but we’re still working on being that team every night. Part of that is turnover. Don’t forget we brought in three new guys at the deadline last year that we just put in the lineup and let’s go get ready for the playoffs. Now we’re doing a little more teaching, and five new guys this summer. I put [Jeremy Swayman] in that category and [Trent Frederic] to a certain extent. So there’s a little bit of that for the whole group that it’s got to be every night and tonight was a good example of that.”
Clearly the Boston Bruins are getting more secondary scoring now coming off three straight wins prior to the stinker against the Flames, and there aren’t going to be many nights when Boston’s top line just isn’t good at all. But the B’s also aren’t good enough at this point to overcome dreadful performances from their top PP group and Sunday night’s shutout loss to Calgary was another example of that.