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Anton Khudobin gets call in net as Bruins finish Cali trip vs. Kings 02.23.17 at 8:51 pm ET
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Anton Khudobin will get the start vs. the Kings. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Anton Khudobin will get the start vs. the Kings. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins could have and should have won last night’s game. But, as the Ducks’ Rickard Rakell had his say with just 2:34 left in the third period of a 3-3 game, the Bruins have been left to travel to the Staples Center for tonight’s head-to-head against the Kings with the chance for four out of a six points on this California swing versus the sweep.

It’s far from the worst situation for the B’s to be in, though, as their recent history on this trip indicated that the Bruins would not only lose all three of these games, but that they wouldn’t be close either.

So the best the Bruins can do one night to the next is apply the takeaways from the Anaheim game — Cassidy called it an ‘autopsy’, which does seem oddly fitting as the Bruins basically died on the table — and turn them into lessons learned against the Kings.

“At the end of the day, we had some coverage issues late and some not being hard enough on the puck,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, who suffered his first loss behind the B’s bench with last night’s 5-3 final in Anaheim, said following Thursday’s optional skate. “I think that’s the two biggest areas we need to improve on around the front of our net, it cost us late night, and that’s stuff we’ll continue to address and hopefully correct going forward.”

And they’ll attempt to correct them with some slight tweaks to their roster.

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Does Ron Hainsey trade set prices on potential d-man rental for Bruins? 02.23.17 at 5:11 pm ET
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The Bruins are believed to be looking for a potential top-four defenseman. (James Guillory/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are believed to be looking for a potential top-four defenseman. (James Guillory/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins are not keen on moving more assets for a short-term fix.

Not after moving two draft picks for Lee Stempniak, and another two draft picks and a prospect for John-Michael Liles last season. But it does remain an option for second-year Bruins general manager Don Sweeney just six days away from the NHL trade deadline.

And the first significant trade of trade season — a Thursday move that saw the Hurricanes send Ron Hainsey to the Penguins for a second-round draft pick and minor-leaguer Danny Kristo — has given the Bruins and the rest of the league an idea of the market’s prices.

Granted, the utter devastation to the health of the Pittsburgh defense corps upped general manager Jim Rutherford’s need to acquire a defenseman, but it’s still a sign of what it will cost your team to make an upgrade to your roster between now and Mar. 1.

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Forward Austin Czarnik, defenseman Joe Morrow assigned to Providence Bruins 02.23.17 at 4:32 pm ET
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Joe Morrow is one of two players assigned to the P-Bruins. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

Joe Morrow is one of two players assigned to the P-Bruins. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

The second week of vacation is over for two B’s, and it’s Los Angeles to Providence for forward Austin Czarnik and defenseman Joe Morrow, who were reassigned to the Providence Bruins today.

The assignment for Czarnik is to get the 5-foot-9 forward back into game-shape after having missed the last five games with a lower-body injury. Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy noted that Czarnik, who was practicing with the club, was getting closer to a return. And with the P-Bruins having a weekend slate of games on deck Friday through Sunday, it can get Czarnik back into the mix without the pressure of meaningful NHL games through the stretch run.

The 24-year-old Czarnik has scored five goals and 13 points in 47 games for the Big B’s this season, and one goal and two helpers in three AHL games this season. And though the Michigan native had roles for the B’s this year on both the power play and fill-in winger, you have to wonder if the development of Peter Cehlarik and seemingly solidified revolving door of more natural-fitting bottom-six forwards have taken him out of an NHL job for the time being.

On a one-way contract, the assignment for Morrow has been labeled a conditioning one.

Morrow has not played in a game since Jan. 22, and has played just eight times since Dec. 1.

It’s unlikely that you will see Morrow draw back into NHL action any time soon, either, as he’s behind Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, and even John-Michael Liles on the club’s left-side defensive depth chart.

Morrow has one assist and a minus-4 rating in 17 games for the Bruins this season.

Loss to Ducks shows that Bruins are once again struggling to lose the right way 02.23.17 at 4:33 am ET
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The Bruins lost another game late on Wednesday. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins lost another game late on Wednesday. It was their ninth loss in such a fashion this season. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins really can’t afford to lose many more games.

But if they are going to lose, which is inevitable despite what the first four games of the Bruce Cassidy era told us, they’re going to have to figure out how to lose the right way. And just what is considered the right way? Taking advantage of the league’s ridiculous ‘loser points’ handed out like candy this time of year, which is something they haven’t done this year. Or any year of recent recollection.

Just take a look at Wednesday’s disaster at the Honda Center.

After the Bruins fought so hard to tie things back up, and did with Frank Vatrano’s goal scored just over the halfway mark of the third period, the Bruins were hemmed in their own zone and allowed the Ducks’ Rickard Rakell to score what would be the game-winning goal with just 2:34 left in the third period.

If there’s any consolation for the Black and Gold, it was the gutpunch that the B’s have been tagged with repeatedly in what’s become a rope-a-dope season. Flip-side: There’s no consolation to be had given what was at stake for the club in that game.

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Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy makes rookie mistakes in late loss to Ducks 02.23.17 at 2:05 am ET
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The Bruins stole a point in Anaheim. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins were 2:34 away from earning at least one point in their 5-3 loss to the Ducks on Wednesday night. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Bruce Cassidy’s late situation in-game management, which is something that was not really an issue for the Bruins in the first four easy street kind of games, was tested on Wednesday night.

And it came with the first loss under his watch, as the Bruins fell to the Ducks by a late 5-3 final at the Honda Center.

In a building in which they had not won in in almost five calendar years, the Bruins opened the game up with Brandon Carlo’s goal in the first period, and carried a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes of action.

But it was in the middle period, as has often been the case this season, that the Black and Gold seemed to run into trouble at every turn.

The Ducks scored 2:03 into the second period behind Ondrej Kase’s fifth goal of the season and his first in 19 games. And the Bruins appeared to answer right away when David Pastrnak rifled a top-shelf shot upstairs on the Ducks’ Jonathan Bernier on the power play. But the goal was called off thanks to contact from B’s winger Brad Marchand at the front of the net, and after a Bruins challenge, that call was upheld and the Bruins lost their timeout.

Zdeno Chara scored a goal that counted just moments later, however, and it seemed like a bullet dodged, even down a timeout.

(Nope!)

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Bruins winger Matt Beleskey to return to lineup vs. Ducks 02.22.17 at 6:21 pm ET
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Bruins winger Matt Beleskey will be in the lineup tonight vs. Anaheim. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bruins winger Matt Beleskey will be in the lineup tonight vs. Anaheim. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Matt Beleskey will be more than a spectator tonight when he visits his old stomping grounds for a pivotal tilt between the Bruins and Ducks.

A healthy scratch in two of the club’s last three games, Beleskey was confirmed as a go and subbed in for Tim Schaller by Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy following the club’s well-attended optional skate at the Honda Center, and is expected to skate in Schaller’s spot on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Riley Nash.

After a career-high 37 points with the Bruins a year ago, year two in Boston as a whole has been a challenging one for Beleskey, who has struggled to duplicate his success, with just two goals and five assists in 33 games played along with 23 games missed with a right knee injury.

But the 28-year-old hasn’t sulked or moaned about his situation.

“I think that’s really all you can do when you don’t play, is just work hard, and try and get better,” Beleskey said. “I’ve been working with the coaches, trying to work on the foot speed, get back from missing a lot of games – it’s taken me a bit to get going, but hopefully tonight I can make some strides and hopefully stay in the lineup.”

And the Bruins have to hope that a head-to-head against his former team could provide a lift, too.

A member of the Ducks for seven seasons, with 57 goals and 112 points in 329 games for Anaheim, Beleskey is trying to keep his eyes on the task at hand for his (somewhat) new club versus enjoying the memories made back then.

“We had a lot of fun here,” Beleskey, who left the Ducks for the Bruins two summers ago, admitted. “But I’m looking forward to getting two points tonight, hopefully coming back in the lineup and being able to contribute and play my game.”

Website gives Bruins 2nd-best chance at winning Stanley Cup 02.22.17 at 5:18 pm ET
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The Bruins are 4-0-0 under Bruce Cassidy. (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins are 4-0-0 under Bruce Cassidy. (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

Here’s something weird: According to MoneyPuck.com, there are 15 teams that have a better chance to make the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs than the Bruins, who are currently given a 72.14 percent chance of making the 16-team dance.

But that’s not the weird part.

Of the 30 teams and their chances at lifting the Stanley Cup this June, only the Capitals, currently given a 10.9 percent chance, have a higher number than the 8.7 percent given to the Bruins by MoneyPuck.com’s scale.

It’s also probably worth noting that the Bruins, who have not made the playoffs since 2014 by the way, would not make the playoffs if the season ended today.

At the same time,  it’s just the latest model that speaks to how the Bruins are viewed as a team that’s been better than their luck and win-loss record has indicated through the first three legs of their season.

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