|01.16.17 at 7:42 pm ET|
Bruins forward David Backes plays video games. And from the sounds of his postgame comments after the B’s 4-0 embarrassment at the hands of the Isles, he’s even dabbled in franchise modes along the way.
“I don’t know if we wanted to hit simulate on the old video game today because we figured we had more points than them,” Backes said after the loss, “but the result is certainly not what we’re looking for when we just established ourselves back to .500 at home.”
In what was a disastrous afternoon that really fell apart for the Bruins when they collapsed for three goals against in less than six minutes at the end of the second period, Backes lamented the dreadful effort, and the B’s inability to keep themselves in a game that should have been an easy victory given the Isles’ struggles both on the road and in general.
“It’s just not good enough,” Backes said when asked what head coach Claude Julien’s message was after their 11th loss in 21 home games. “There’s no excuse-making going on. It’s just not good enough from top to bottom, left to right.
“We’re not going to win many games playing like that.”
With the loss, the Bruins dropped to 7-11-4 in 22 games that have followed a victory.
“If we want to play the way we did against St. Louis or Philly in here, then we’re going to win a lot of games,” Backes said. “We just can’t be Jekyll and Hyde and black and white on different days, because that’s as frustrating as it gets. We’ve shown we can do it. It’s imperative we do it every game or we start seeing ourselves fall in the standings and that’s certainly not acceptable as well.”
But now I can’t help but wonder which games Backes has simulated in his franchise modes.
|01.16.17 at 6:58 pm ET|
It’s not often you see an Islanders goaltender come to Boston and hold the Bruins to zero in a winning effort.
Actually, strike that — it’s never been done, though Rick DiPietro came close in a 0-0 tie back in Feb. 2004. That was until today, of course (and naturally given the way this season has gone), as Isles netminder Thomas Greiss stopped everything thrown his way en route to the franchise’s first ever road shutout victory over the Bruins.
Hit with seven shots in a sluggish first period, 14 in the middle frame, and then 11 in a third period in which the Bruins by all means conceded the idea of even making a game of it, Greiss rolled with a relatively easy night in the crease, as it was hard to find many quality looks from the B’s offense despite the 32-to-27 shot advantage by the day’s end.
“We had a few good shifts there, we sustained a little bit of pressure in there, but then we just couldn’t keep that for the next lines after going,” Patrice Bergeron said. “We couldn’t sustain that or build from that, so it was really a whole team throughout the lineup that didn’t show up and it’s obviously unacceptable.”
The shutout also continued personal success against the B’s for Greiss, who made a career-high 48 saves in his last head-to-head with the Bruins, a 4-2 win on Dec. 20, and gives him saves on all but two of 82 Bruins shots against (.976 save percentage).
“It’s been treating me pretty well, fun games,” Greiss said of his success in Boston this season. “But, you know, they are a good team. You’ve always got to respect them. They always come at you pretty hard.”
Overall, it was the Isles’ fourth lifetime shutout against the Bruins.
With the Isles finally on the board with a road shutout win over the Bruins, only the Coyotes, Blue Jackets, Predators, and Thrashers-turned-Jets remain as franchises without a road shutout over the Bruins.
|01.16.17 at 5:11 pm ET|
The 315th straight sellout crowd at TD Garden had absolutely nothing to cheer about in a 4-0 drubbing of the hometown Bruins courtesy of the East-worst Islanders. So they instead tuned their throats to a different sing-song of vocal expression, as the Black and Gold were viciously booed off the ice before the final horn sounded.
“We were flat tonight, obviously,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of the team’s woeful effort. “Flat from the get-go.”
Blaming a result on coming out ‘flat’ is something that’s been said entirely too often in regards to the Bruins this year, especially on home ice. And that actually goes beyond just this season, too. After a 2015-16 season in which the Bruins won just 17 games at home (only the Sabres and tanking Maple Leafs won fewer games among Eastern Conference clubs), the Bruins have struggled with just 10 wins in 21 home games.
“It’s disappointing,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of their Garden struggles. “We should have a better home record.”
In total, the Bruins have wins in just 27 of their last 62 home games. It’s the fourth-fewest home wins in the NHL over that stretch and does not fit the mold of a team that is expected to contend come spring. It’s the record of a time on the complete other end of the spectrum if you look, as only the Sabres, Leafs, and Avalanche have won fewer home games over that span, and two out of three of those teams are and have been lottery teams (and the Leafs are just now leaving that realm).
“I can criticize [the players] internally because that’s part of my job, but at the same time I think we owe it to our fans to be better than we were,” Julien said of the loss. “Whether there’s fatigue in our team or not, I don’t know, but you think your team is ready to go, I think that we were ready to go, but we were flat. We’ll leave it at that.”
On the boo-birds delivered from the Garden crowd, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara knew they were deserved.
“We let them down by our effort.”
|01.16.17 at 3:26 pm ET|
Maybe it would have been wise to have seen this one coming.
The Bruins, two days removed from shooting the lights out against the Flyers and grabbing their sixth and seventh of a possible 10 points over their last five games, no-showed and allowed a straight-up dreadful Islanders club to come into TD Garden and thrash Tuukka Rask and the B’s woeful team defense for three goals in a 5:20 span in the middle period to escape Boston with a 4-0 victory over the Black and Gold.
And when it happened, it was anything but expected.
The Bruins had done their part of shutting the Islanders down through the opening 30 minutes of action. Held to just six shot at the halfway mark of the game, it was on just their ninth shot of the game that the Islanders broke through for their first goal behind Nikolay Kulemin’s sixth goal of the season. It was a goal that caught both Adam McQuaid and David Krejci in a frantic chase to keep pace with the play — which they did not. On their 11th shot, the Islanders made it 2-0 on a soft goal allowed by Rask. That is a save he has to make — which he did not. And on the third goal of the night, the second from Kulemin, Joe Morrow was caught looking while Patrice Bergeron was supposed to provide support — which he did not.
Even when the Bruins were gifted with a third period power play that could have given the club a life — or at the very least made the box score look like this was a closer game than it really was — the Bruins instead whiffed and allowed Jason Chimera to storm down on Zane McIntyre (who replaced Rask after the second peri0d) for a shorthanded goal to make it 4-zip. Their power play, with a revamped look and balance through their lines, should have been better against the league’s 22nd-ranked PK. It was not.
It was just another maddening afternoon of almosts and should-have-beens for the Bruins, who looked beyond dead for the full 60 minutes of action against Islanders netminder Thomas Greiss, and it’s quickly become an exhausting theme of a season in which the club has proved completely unable to gain any positive traction when it’s become a dire need.
In their 22nd game following a win this season, the Bruins fell flat once again, giving them a total of 15 losses in such situations.
It’s almost impossible to imagine such inconsistencies plaguing a team for as long as they’ve plagued the Bruins — the team has as many three-game losing streaks as they do three-game winning streaks, and their record coming into today’s game was a cool .500 if you counted overtime losses as true losses — but this was a week that was supposed to allow the Bruins to generate some stream and make up for the points that have been left on the table again and again this year.
And this game, against the Eastern Conference’s worst team and a team with just five wins in 18 games away from their home rink, should have been the perfect roll-starter for a club that had shown plenty of signs that these days were finally behind them.
Instead, it was another surprising no show.
Which I suppose by now should be anything but surprising.
|01.16.17 at 12:58 pm ET|
Last Saturday was a sign of progress from the Bruins.
Not only did the Bruins pummel six into the net for a big win over the Flyers, but it came just two nights after the Bruins were stymied on all but one of their 36 shots on net in yet another one-goal loss, this time to the Preds by a 2-1 final. That loss really brought about the same old-same old vibes that the Black and Gold have struggled with this season in the sense that their shots were there, but the finish was not. That loss in the Music City turned what would could have been a six or seven point road trip into a five out of eight possible points trip.
The frustration was as understandable as it was obvious when the Bruins arrived back in Boston the next day, and came at the expense of the Flyers the following day. In other words, the Bruins did not let return to the struggles of old fester into a multi-game slide. In fact, the six-goal outburst against the Flyers gave the B’s their first six-game segment with at least 20 goals scored this season.
“I think we have to sustain it if we want to have success,” Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said of the team’s offensive surge over the last two weeks. “We have to find the consistency where we’re close to have to having that every night.”
Now comes a week where the Bruins can and should keep it rolling if they’re to be taken seriously this season.
Up first, a hapless Islanders club that’s racked up the third-fewest points in the NHL and have just five wins in 18 road games this season. Then a Red Wings club that sits nine points behind the Bruins in the Atlantic and are already on death’s doorstep. Then comes a Friday night head-to-head with the Blackhawks which has always served as a where-are-you-really kind of game.
“You have to take it one game at a time, but at the same time the first two teams are teams we’re trying to either push down or they’re in our division,” Bergeron said. “It’s about making sure these are points you can’t let slip by, and we’re aware of that.”
But the Bruins will be without one of their go-to defenders for today’s Monday matinee head-to-head with the Islanders, as Kevan Miller will sit with a concussion sustained on a board from Jakub Voracek in Saturday’s win. Puck-moving defenseman Colin Miller (lower-body) will also miss his third straight game for the B’s, too. That will draw Joe Morrow, a healthy scratch for the last 16 games in total, back into action for his first game since Dec. 12 against the Canadiens.
This isn’t the first time that the Bruins have been down a defenseman or two and they know it probably won’t be the last. And it won’t change what a defense that’s allowed the second-fewest shots per game does or expects out of one another.
“More than ever we’re a unit that way that we’re all working together,” B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid said.
“It doesn’t really matter a whole lot who’s in and out, we just try to stick to the same focus.”
Tuukka Rask gets the call in net for the Bruins. Rask made stops on 21-of-24 shots against in Saturday’s win over the Flyers, and has a 22-9-3 record and .925 save percentage on the year. The Islanders counter with Thomas Greiss. Greiss made a career-high 48 saves in his last game against the Bruins and has 10 wins and a .921 save percentage in 19 starts this season
This is the second of three meetings between the B’s and Isles this season.
The Islanders took the last one by a 4-2 final at TD Garden back on Dec. 20.
Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano – David Krejci – David Backes
Tim Schaller – Ryan Spooner – Riley Nash
Austin Czarnik – Dominic Moore – Anton Blidh
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Joe Morrow – John-Michael Liles
|01.15.17 at 1:13 pm ET|
Down in a heap and knocked out of the game on a boarding major from Flyers forward Jakub Voracek in the second period, Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller was labeled with a vague ‘upper-body syndrome’ ailment from head coach Claude Julien on Saturday.
A day later, and without Miller on the ice for a Sunday practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Julien specified the nature of that upper-body injury and confirmed that Miller has suffered a concussion and will be out indefinitely as part of the NHL’s concussion protocol.
With Miller out and Colin Miller still out with a lower-body injury (Miller has missed the last two games but was on the ice long before practice began and did some skating by himself), Joe Morrow will draw back into action for the B’s matinee head-to-head with the Islanders at TD Garden on Monday. It’s depth that the B’s are thankful for given what’s become a year-long bout with injuries and sometimes inconsistencies.
“We’re fortunate we have eight guys and all are capable,” B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid said of the club’s defensive depth. “All are capable and have experience have a little bit of experiencing playing with one another, and we’re fortunate that way.”
And though Morrow has sat as a healthy scratch for the last 16 games, McQuaid knows that Morrow’s experience and familiarity will help a Bruins defense that’s allowed just 26.7 shots against per game (the second-lowest mark in the NHL) stay afloat.
“I think more than ever we’re a unit that way in that we’re working together,” said McQuaid.
Out for 20 games this season (19 because of hand surgery and one for an illness), the B’s are 11-9-0 without Miller.
The 6-foot-2 Miller has three assists to go with 51 hits and 36 blocked shots in 26 games this season.
|01.15.17 at 9:53 am ET|
It hasn’t always been easy (especially not this season), but Bruins forward David Krejci has finally tallied career point No. 500.
In his 46th game of the season, a 6-3 trouncing of the Flyers at TD Garden Saturday, and with the opportunity to bust the game open, it was the crafty Czech pivot that torched Michal Neuvirth up top for a power-play goal that helped pace the Bruins’ torrid second period that featured four goals from the Black and Gold.
Not only did the tally finally bump Krejci into the 500 Club for his NHL career (a feat that’s been accomplished by just 12 other forwards in team history), but also move out of a tie with Adam Oates and into sole possession of the 14th-most points in franchise history.
“Well you need your best players to be your best players and the rest will follow up,” Krejci said after the win. “I thought we played a really strong game, other than the first 10 minutes, we are still trying to work on it but we are getting better at it and we got a big two points [Saturday].”
With 10 goals and 28 points on the year, Krejci’s shot the puck noticeably more on the power play, which has resulted in five power-play goals to date, just one away from matching his single-season high, set in 2009-10.
“I’m always trying to shoot,” said Krejci. “Sometimes at the last second something comes into my head and then I’m looking for a pass but my first instinct is always to shoot, especially on the power play and I’m happy that one went in.”
Barring a white-hot run to finish the season, Krejci will likely have to wait until next season to bump Bill Cowley, who had 536 points in 508 games from 1935 to 1947, from the No. 13 spot on the club’s all-time scoring list.