Did the Detroit Red Wings expose the Boston Bruins by beating them 5-4 on Saturday and handing the Bruins their first regulation loss of the 2023-24 season?
Prior to the Boston Bruins beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime at TD Garden this past Thursday, an NHL pro scout had this to say to Boston Hockey Now on how long the Bruins’ best start in franchise history could last:
“Are you going to score every game, scoring three goals or less? And if they’re scoring more, they’re probably giving up more because they’ve abandoned the defense-first game plan, and they don’t have the scoring to keep up.”
A few hours later, the Boston Bruins had cemented their best regular season start ever and maybe even broken their Atlantic Division rival but just over 48 hours later, that scout’s opinion became reality in Detroit. The Bruins found themselves going toe-to-toe with the high-flying Red Wings in a game reminiscent of the NHL that was dominated by Hall of Famers like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
“We’re one of the better teams in this league,” said Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark, who statistically had his worst game of the season, allowing five goals on 40 Red Wings’ shots. “We’ve got to show it and prove it every night. Tonight was one of those old-time hockey games, and unfortunately, we didn’t have the results with us.”
Now, let’s not kid ourselves that the fact that the Boston Bruins were missing their top defensive pairing of Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk for a second straight game caught up to them, but the 2023-24 Boston Bruins are not built for games like Saturday’s. Even during his team’s 9-0-1 run to start the season, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery has made a point to point out the reality that this start was hiding, and he did so again in his post-game media scrum at Little Caesar’s Arena on Saturday night.
“You know, we’re a young team,” “We’ve got a lot of guys playing different minutes, right? Those minutes add up. We’ve just got to get used to it. I think we’re going to see more of this than what we saw last year — just because of our group.”
Heading into this season, many, including this puck scribe, once again predicted that the Bruins would be a playoff bubble team in the Eastern Conference. Sure, they made so many eat that prediction with a humble serving of humble pie last season, but with no Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci., plus plenty of other significant salary cap-related casualties, it was hard to see how this team could score consistently enough to still be in the elite group of Stanley Cup contenders. For the first ten games of the season, they haven’t really needed to, and the Bruins may very well be able to keep winning on defense and goaltending. However, the 5-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings was a harsh reminder that in terms of regular season success, this roster, as currently constituted, will never be in the same stratosphere as the 2022-23 Boston Bruins.