A COVID-ridden Boston Bruins team fell 3-1 to the New York Islanders Thursday night.
Since Monday morning, the Bruins had seven players go into COVID protocol prior to the 7:35 PM ET faceoff against the Islanders in their first-ever game at the brand new UBS Arena. Without key players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the odds were stacked against the Bruins and while they gave a valiant effort, this was easy money for anyone who bet the Islanders.
Cal Clutterbuck scored his second of the night on an empty-netter to make it 3-0 Islanders with 2:17 left and while Mike Reilly made it 3-1 with 54 ticks left in regulation, this game was over already. One could argue, it was over after the second period when the Boston Bruins racked up 21 shots but couldn’t solve Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov who finished with 40 saves. Anthony Beuvillier scored the other Islanders goal.
Here are the Talking Points from an expected and frustrating loss for the Boston Bruins:
GOLD STAR: Cal Clutterbuck – The modern-day Shawn Thornton has struggled this season and hadn’t scored a goal since December 4 but on Thursday, he resembled the player that helped make the Islanders’ fourth line the best in the NHL since the old Bruins ‘Merlot Line’ was broken up. Clutterbuck finished with two goals, three shots, and three hits in 14:13 TOI.
Up close. Top shelf.
Cal Clutterbuck gets it done. pic.twitter.com/9dR5e4G1A3
— NHL (@NHL) December 17, 2021
BLACK EYE: The NHL for not postponing this game, as well as the Los Angeles Kings-Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators-Colorado Avalanche, and Detroit Red Wings-Carolina Hurricanes. Combined there were 20 players missing from those games and 70 NHL players and counting around the league as of the 7:35 PM ET faceoff for this game.
Furthermore, why was the Colorado Avalanche, which had just four players in COVID Protocol, given the option not to play?
Makar and Kuemper added to protocol close to game-time…joining Burakovsky, Compher and Toews. According to several sources, the Avalanche were given the option of not playing tonight, but voted to do so. https://t.co/IQmMWIli7d
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 17, 2021
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told the media postgame that his team, to his knowledge, was not given that option and Boston Hockey Now has confirmed that neither was the Panthers or Predators.
Time to not just save more players and staffers from getting COVID but also the competitive integrity of the game. Pause the NHL season Friday until at least after Christmas, regroup and stop charging fans hundreds of dollars for tickets to see an AHL-worthy game!
If they don’t do that, they need to at least postpone the trip to Canada for the Boston Bruins this weekend
Note: Yes, the Bruins power play was abysmal finishing 0-for-3 but with no Bergeron or Marchand on the top unit and no Craig Smith on the second, that was to be expected.
TURNING POINT: One could argue the second Patrice Bergeron went into COVID protocol Wednesday after Brad Marchand and Craig Smith did Tuesday, but as far as in-game?
While not many were legit scoring chances, Varlamov stopping all 21 shots by the Bruins in the second period still had to be deflating for a team already low on confidence due to the COVID situation.
HONORABLE MENTION: Anthony Beauvillier – The Islanders forward was a healthy scratch a few games back and has struggled mightily this season with just three goals and four assists in 22 games coming into Thursday. In fact, Beauvillier has been so bad that his powerplay goal 1:44 into the second period was his first goal in 15 games. In addition to the goal, Beauvillier had four shots and a hit in 18:41 TOI.
Credit to my cohost on The Ice Guys for calling Bouvillier to score in this game earlier on Thursday:
And @bobano nails it with Anthony Beauvillier to score tonight!
Mondays at 2:30 PM ET, Tues-Fri at 2 PM ET, and Saturdays and Sundays at noon.https://t.co/nQ0LibETSl
— MurphysLaw74 (@MurphysLaw74) December 17, 2021
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 – The number of Boston Bruins players placed in COVID protocol since Monday morning.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Well that sucks.” – Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark when asked what his reaction was when he found out three more Bruins players went on COVID protocol Thursday morning.