|Islanders fire head coach Jack Capuano day after beating Bruins||01.17.17 at 4:42 pm ET|
One of the NHL head coaches involved in yesterday’s game in which the conference’s worst team came into the building of a playoff team and beat them by four goals (and allowed zero) has been fired.
But it’s not the one you would have expected.
Instead, it was Islanders coach Jack Capuano that was handed his pink-slip Tuesday. Fired on the heels of a 4-0 victory over the Bruins yesterday afternoon, and after a 17-17-8 start to his seventh season behind the Isles bench, Capuano will be replaced by assistant coach Doug Weight on an interim basis, and leaves the Islanders after bringing the team to the postseason in three of his six seasons in town.
A coach getting fired after playing the Bruins is far from jarring — the Rangers moved on from John Tortorella after a second-round series loss to the Bruins in 2013 and the Wild fired Mike Yeo after the B’s spanked his Wild team last season — but rarely, if ever, has it been done after a team beat the Bruins.
It’s hard to find any situation where a coach has been fired after a win, I’d imagine.
One of the reasons that the Islanders made the decision now, according to general manager Garth Snow, was that they did not view Capuano as a coach that they would bring back next season, and that they felt that there was still time to right the ship given their record (and probably the topsy-turvy nature of the Eastern Conference as a whole).
Meanwhile, the B’s 15th loss in 22 games that have followed a win and their second loss in as many tries against the East-worst Islanders exposed the Bruins as a tired club and prompted head coach Claude Julien, who has seemed tense given the temperature around the team and from above, to cancel practice ahead of tomorrow’s pivotal meeting with the Red Wings.
Capuano’s firing will go down as the 87th NHL coach firing/change (non-retiring or walking as free agent coach like Mike Babcock did with his switch from the Red Wings to Maple Leafs) since the Bruins hired Julien in 2007.
|Bruins coach Claude Julien cancels Tuesday practice||01.17.17 at 12:48 pm ET|
In what’s been his most trying year behind the B’s bench, coach Claude Julien is taking the temperature of his team while also taking his own.
It was on the heels of a 4-0 beatdown by the last-place Islanders that a disappointed and downright angry Julien scheduled a 10:30 a.m. practice for Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena. But when 10:30 a.m. came, only an injured forward (Matt Beleskey), healthy scratch (Jimmy Hayes), and backup goaltender (Zane McIntyre) were on the ice. That remained the case by 10:45 a.m., and before 11 a.m. hit, it was announced that Julien had decided to cancel practice for his club.
The decision to cancel practice was akin to a lovers’ quarrel. Julien, in the heat of the moment following his team getting viciously booed off the ice of their home building, took an off day away from the club. But when given some time to reflect back on it, Julien seemingly realized that it may do more harm than good in the long run and took it back.
In what unfolded as the team’s first day off in eight days and a necessary breather on a travel day to Detroit before a Wednesday head-to-head with the Red Wings, some of the team leaders held court and dished on the idea that this team is just straight-up tired given the dreaded ‘condensed schedule’ and a league-high 47 games played to date.
“Physically obviously everyone’s in good shape and around the league everyone is able to play in these but mentally it’s a grind,” Bruins d-man Torey Krug admitted, “and we’re at that point in the season in late January where it seems to drag on a little bit.”
“I think it’s one of those days where you have to regroup, recharge the batteries and feel better,” Patrice Bergeron said. “You can’t just put the blame on the [schedule]. We’re professionals and we have to show up every game.”
This season, or at least until a certain point, has become a war of attrition for the Bruins. After next week’s home game against the Red Wings, the Bruins will play just eight times in the next 26 days thanks to the All-Star break and the team’s bye late in mid-February. That’s a good and bad thing for the Bruins. The good is obvious: the Bruins will get some much needed rest. The bad: the points they’ve left on the table with duds against teams like the Islanders and even the Devils a few weeks back could and should come back to haunt them when the likes of the Maple Leafs and Sens catch up to the club in games played.
“You use a day like today to look forward, look at video, and be better for the next day,” Bergeron, who has now played 50 games since September between the World Cup and B’s (Brad Marchand has played in 53 games, while Zdeno Chara has played in 47), said of the team’s morning away from on-ice work. “Because it happens fast — we have a game tomorrow.”
Against another team that the Bruins, tired or not, can’t afford to look past.
|Pulling Tuukka Rask was lone good call of forgettable day for Bruins||01.17.17 at 12:07 am ET|
Little made sense in a 4-0 loss to the cellar-dwelling Islanders Monday. One call that did make sense for the Bruins, however, was head coach Claude Julien’s decision to pull Tuukka Rask after the second period.
Rask, like most Bruins, did not have his best game.
And though it wasn’t entirely his fault (perhaps with the exception of the second Islander goal, which was scored off a bad angle shot from Josh Bailey that Rask should have sealed off), Rask didn’t help the Black and Gold with just 12 stops in total before given the hook.
“You’ve got to do something, right? I let in that weak one, the second goal,” Rask said of his early exit. “But the coaches always have to do whatever they can to get the team going and that’s it.”
Of course, the 29-year-old’s worst stretch was also the team’s worst stretch, as the B’s blew assignment after assignment while Rask allowed three goals on six shots in a 5:20 stretch late in the second period. But it wasn’t the only reason that he was replaced by Zane McIntyre for the third period of what became a clear throwaway game.
“Well there’s two things that can happen,” Julien said, “number one, you hope you can spark your team, because of the performance in front of him, and if it doesn’t spark your team, you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”
The former didn’t happen for Julien and the Bruins, but the latter could prove invaluable.
If you look at where the league is trending or trended over the last few seasons, the Bruins will likely need at least 95 points to qualify for postseason play. They’re at 51 points through 47 games played, and the simple math tells you that they’re in need of about 44 points over the final 35 games to make the postseason. More simple math tells you that’s about 22 wins. And with the way that the Black and Gold have played this year with backups in net — the Bruins have just one victory in 11 games started by a trio of backups this season — you can expect Rask to have be in net for almost all 22 of those wins.
But it won’t matter who’s in net for the Bruins if the team continues to no-show against bottom of the barrel teams.
“You need to bring that emotion and work ethic every night. Doesn’t matter if it’s road or home. On the road we seem to do that every night,” Rask said of the team’s hot-and-cold nature and struggles at TD Garden. “At home for some reason, we play a good game, an emotional game and then we lack it in the next one and the results are what they were tonight.
“It’s like a broken record; we have to fix it. Or otherwise it won’t be good.”
That would mean a third straight burnout by both the goaltender and team and without a playoff berth to show for their exhausting efforts.
|David Backes compares poor Bruins effort to pressing ‘sim’ on video game||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.
|Islanders make matchup history with win over Bruins||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.
|Bruins coach Claude Julien on loss to East-worst Isles: ‘We owe it to our fans to be better’||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.”
|Consistency continues to elude Bruins in loss to Islanders||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.