The Boston Bruins have ended a three-game road trip with a thud after it started with some serious potential.
The B’s still managed to take three out of a possible six points in the three games out West vs. Colorado, Arizona and Dallas, but it was a bitter taste ending in a futile, listless 6-1 loss to the Stars at American Airlines Arena on Sunday night.
The Boston Bruins didn’t manage much sustained offense during the game aside from a Craig Smith goal that ruined the shutout and snapped a personal six game pointless streak, and the defensive effort was even worse. There were breakdowns all over the ice, soft play in the slot and net-front areas and very subpar efforts all-around from Urho Vaakanainen (on the ice for three goals against), Derek Forbort and Mike Reilly (a combined minus-6 on Sunday) on the left side of Boston’s defense.
This Alex Radulov breakaway goal right up the middle of the neutral zone with Forbort and Reilly on the ice and newcomer Steven Fogarty at center? Too damn easy.
THAT’S the celly we’ve ALL been waiting on!
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 31, 2022
None of this is going to stop the calls for the Boston Bruins to greatly improve their back end play by pushing to trade for a guy like Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who would immediately slot in as the top D-man on the left side. Whether it was in the D-zone or in the neutral zone, the defense was lacking for the Black and Gold.
“We’ve just got to be harder back there. It starts on your back end, winning your battles, getting the puck out of your zone. In this case, it was farther up the ice. You’ve got to execute at an NHL level, especially against good teams. They’re really pushing it,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We didn’t do enough of that tonight. On the offensive side of it, we didn’t do it either…put those two things together against a good hockey club that defends well, it was going to be an uphill battle and we just didn’t figure it out.”
Linus Ullmark was pulled midway through the second period after allowing four goals on 15 shots in favor of getting some work for rookie Jeremy Swayman, but Sunday night’s one-sided defeat at the hands of Dallas was not about the goaltending. Cassidy was quick to point that amidst the rubble of Boston’s second blowout loss in the last couple of weeks after losing 7-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes as well.
“We didn’t do enough in front of him,” said Cassidy. “It was a little more of we’ll get him out there, he’s done some good work for us. We weren’t playing great, get Swayman some work back at the NHL level. I think most of the goals, you can’t put on the goaltending. I don’t think goaltending was the problem tonight at all. Just too many opportunities for them.”
The simple truth is that it’s not going to get any easier for the Black and Gold. The good news is that they have a big cushion for a playoff spot and are well within striking distance to elevate further just four points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third spot in the Atlantic Division. But there will be more, not less, nights when the legs or the will aren’t going to be there for the Bruins in an extremely busy second half of the year.
It’s why the Boston Bruins can’t fritter away points trying to get a rusty Tuukka Rask into game shape or take nights off against beatable opponents like the Dallas Stars. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case on Sunday night in Dallas when the Boston Bruins showed little-to-nothing against a Stars hockey club that was clearly ready to go.