Bruins Beat: Bruins Play Show Signs of Stress

Following Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues, the question is…which team will we see in the playoffs – the current Bruins who have lost three of their last four games, or the earlier Bruins team which had strung together several extended win streaks? In either case, the concern being, the locals are struggling to keep it together, and the Washington Capitals are riding a four-game win streak, and the margin of points between the top two Wild Card contenders has shrunk to a mere three points (Boston 95/Washington 92). Should the Bruins drop down to the second spot in the Wild Card standings, they would face the Florida Panthers in the first round. Florida is a very strong team that presently is on an eight-game win streak, and competing with the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the NHL, each with 110 points.

Reflecting back on Boston’s loss to the Blues, in their first visit to TD Garden in two-and-a-half years, the initial comment is that the Bs were lacking some key players, two of those being (Hampus Lindholm – knee, and Matt Grzelcyk upper body) which is half of their top four defenseman group, along with their elite goal scorer, David Pastrnak. Compounding that situation was the loss of a third top four defenseman Brandon Carlo, halfway through the first period. Taking that into consideration, the locals weren’t able to put too much together on both offense and defense. Shades of their early season losses once again came to the forefront, where the team effort only seemed to be there for just a portion of the game. Coach Bruce Cassidy put it bluntly with, “Our habits were good for half the game, so we’re back to November, where we play half a hockey game and shot ourselves in the foot and couldn’t do enough to recover against a good hockey club. I’ve seen this before. I just haven’t seen it in a while. We were playing pretty good in the second period. We were in their end the whole time, we were playing the way most of our lines are constructed to play. Win a puck, play off the shot, win a puck back. The D are involved but they’re simple, they’re moving it back to the net. And then you get away from that.” The result was several turnovers that the Blues were able to put behind Jeremy Swayman. A host of mental errors, including bad penalties, led to their downfall, or as Cassidy added, “It’s just really not very intelligent hockey, and you don’t win against good teams when you don’t play intelligent hockey. I think with our effort, we’re trying. Guys are working hard. We’ve just got to be smarter, plain and simple.” The issue of Boston’s suddenly weak power play also reared its ugly head, as despite some adjustment by Cassidy, the result was two more failed attempts in this game, extending the power outage to 0-for-18 chances in four games without Pasta. One of the main problems according to Cassidy, “We’re selfish, guys are holding the puck too long, wanting to make the play, instead of letting the puck do the work.” Adding to the bottom line with “Let’s get our nose dirty a bit and then maybe the pretty plays will come later, because they’re not happening now.” St. Louis is now on an impressive six-game win streak, riding high with an offense that boasts seven 20-goal scorers (Vladimir Tarasenko, Jordan Kyrou, Pavel Buchnevich, Ivan Barbarshev, David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Brandon Saad), and the possibility of adding two more to the total with Robert Tomas (18) and Ryan O’Reilly (17), both on the cusp.

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