Bruins not built to be playing from behind*UPDATED injury information
After a three-day break, the New Jersey Devils entered TD Garden. Already without Taylor Hall, the Devils arrived in Boston with 13 regulation wins and just three on the road No Hall and a struggling Devils squad should have been enough for the Bruins to pick up two points.
However, there was one little problem: The Bruins didn’t show up.
25 seconds into the contest, Damon Severson got the Devils on the board. 15 minutes later it was Kyle Palmieri extending the lead to two. Jersey would go onto a 5-2 victory, a game the Bruins didn’t have much of a shot in. Most of that was because they simply were not ready to go from the start, and put themselves into another hole they couldn’t climb out of.
On top of hosting a not-so-good Devils squad, the Bruins were getting a boost with Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Jake DeBrusk all returning to the lineup. Well, you would have thought getting three injured players back would be a boost.
“To me, there’s probably three or four things that you certainly look at that, guys think well okay we’re going to get out there, it’s going to happen for us” heads coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Those guys had some rust in their games, clearly, obviously. Every guy that misses that much time. So, there may have been a little bit of that. I hope not. I just give them [New Jersey] credit. They came out, played their game much better than us early on.”
There were signs of rust for sure from the injured players, but as the game went on, you could see Chara, DeBrusk and Miller all getting more comfortable with their games.
“I thought he got better as the game went on,” Cassidy said of Chara. “Obviously adjusted to pace of the play early. Jersey’s a team that pitches pucks behind you a lot, so you’re turning and going back on pucks a lot. That’s a challenge no matter what.”
“I thought he had good jump, made some plays around the net, attacked the net, was a threat offensively off the cycle in the o-zone. The little details you miss from playing like the [Torey] Krug – the third goal. His guy jumps by him on the faceoff. You’re not allowed to interfere, but you can make it a little more difficult, give Torey an extra second maybe to find the shooting lane,” Cassidy said of DeBrusk.
“That’s maybe where sometimes you miss those areas of the game, but for the most part just from watching him I thought he was fine.”
Over the course of an 82-game season, you’re going to come out flat here and there. The Bruins have done that too often this season and in those situations, results have not been too friendly. The Bruins have just four wins when trailing after the first.
Even worse, the Bruins are one of three teams who have not yet won a game that they’ve trailed entering the third.
Knowing they have issues scoring goals in general, the Bruins are not built to be playing from behind.
“I think subconsciously we know we’re probably not scoring as much as we’d like, probably not as much as we deserve,” said Cassidy. “But, again, when you’re not scoring you know you get behind a few you all of sudden – doubt creeps into your mind and we have to erase that. It’s our job as coaches to make sure the guys feel good about their game and know they can come back, but until we do it a few times it’s probably going to be a struggle until we get over that first hump.”
The Bruins finished with 42 shots on goal, but the Bruins really never tested Mackenzie Blackwood that much, as the rookie picked up his first NHL victory.
It’s hard to blame the three-day layoff as the reason behind the Bruins lack of effort Thursday night. The Devils had the exact same layoff as the Bruins and put forth a much more complete effort.
“Well, you know, they had the same layoff, you now, and they were coming out hard, they had to travel and we didn’t so no excuses there,” said Bergeron who scored his 12th of the season Thursday. “Obviously it’s on us, you know, those three days you're supposed to make the most of it, but obviously be a professional about it, you know, I don’t think that should be a question.”
The Bruins will need a much better start and much more complete effort Saturday night when they head into Buffalo to take on the Sabres.
Updated 12/18 12:45PM
Neither Brad Marchand nor Charlie McAvoy practiced Friday morning. McAvoy missed Thursday's contest after blocking a shot in Sunday's loss to Carolina. He was placed on IR, but will travel with the team to Buffalo.
Marchand took a hit up high at the end of the game Thursday night and missed practice with an upper body injury. Marchand is unlikely to play on Saturday.
Lastly, David Backes will have a hearing with the department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of Blake Coleman.