DETROIT, MI – Don’t look now, but the Boston Bruins have themselves a third pairing problem.
It’s certainly not “sky is falling territory” given that the Bruins have posted a 17-4-1 record in their last 22 games and have pushed into the playoff structure in the Atlantic Division, but it definitely reared its head in Boston’s 5-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night at Little Caesar’s Arena.
Mike Reilly and Derek Forbort were on the ice for a pair of damaging second period goals that handed the game’s momentum over to Detroit, and the Bruins never got it back after building up a two-goal lead early in the game.
With Connor Clifton and Josh Brown waiting in the wings with Boston’s strong back end depth, now is not the time for struggles from guys like Forbort or Reilly with the Stanley Cup playoffs just a couple of weeks away.
“Defensively we had some breakdowns in front of our net. We didn’t defend hard enough, we didn’t manage pucks. [A] couple guys in the second period, our third pair, they had a tough time. They got beat and couldn’t manage a puck,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “In and out of the lineup, that doesn’t help their cause, to be honest with you. We expect better and we expect our goalie to bail us out at time when you break down because when we look at it, there wasn’t a lot of breakdowns.
“The guys that got a chance to play a little more, if you want to stay in the lineup – we’ve got some healthy competition – then you’ve got to bring it on the ice. That’s your best opportunity. We’re not going to judge everyone on one game, but we’re moving along here. There is opportunity that presents itself and you want to take advantage of it.”
That was a clear message for Reilly and Forbort, with Mike Reilly finishing a minus-2 and really struggling with clearing pucks and lost battles in front of the net for Michael Rasmussen’s game-tying goal just days after he said he sees himself as “an everyday guy” after a series of healthy scratches.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 6, 2022
Reilly may be headed back to that healthy scratch status if he doesn’t pick it up with some important games for playoff position coming up soon. Clearly the B’s are pretty well-established with Hampus Lindholm, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo as their top-4 guys and they will get the bulk of the playing time in big games.
But the Boston Bruins need a third pairing that can give them quality minutes while keeping the puck out of the back of the net. What the Boston Bruins can’t have is repeats of the second period implosion that cost them two points against a beatable opponent, and will spell doom against the better teams once the postseason rolls around.