Two Bruins problems that began before point streak turned into two-game losing streak

Matt Kalman
March 12, 2019 - 10:26 pm

Even before the Bruins’ 19-game point streak ended in Pittsburgh on Sunday a couple other streaks with negative connotations began.

Both continued in a 7-4 loss at Columbus on Tuesday.

First, the Bruins fell behind again, for the fifth straight game. Even when they were winning they were doing it in come-from-behind fashion, including a couple miracle wins against Ottawa and Florida.

Against the Blue Jackets they took this trend to the extreme – falling behind 5-1 after 28:09 of action. Columbus center Boone Jenner’s second of three goals on the night chased Tuukka Rask from the Boston crease and epitomized everything the Bruins did to fall into their four-goal deficit: poor coverage, poor hustle, helpless goaltending. The Bruins cut the lead to 5-4 but couldn't complete the monstrous comeback.

With 12 games left in the regular season the Bruins are going to have to solve their focus problem. Against the Senators and Panthers, clearly they had a difficult time getting motivated against lottery-bound teams. Against the Penguins and Blue Jackets the Bruins had trouble matching the desperation of two teams on the Eastern Conference playoff bubble.

Well if home-ice advantage is as important to the Bruins as they’ve said it is, they’re going to have to at least figure out a way to exploit the lowly teams remaining on their schedule or ramp up their intensity to playoff level against teams clawing to qualify for the postseason.

Second, coach Bruce Cassidy can’t utilize his entire roster and it’s costing the Bruins. For at least the third time in the past 10 days Peter Ceharlik didn’t see the ice in the third period Tuesday. Trent Frederic was called up from Providence and didn’t get off the bench in the third period. Joakim Nordstrom was used sparingly once the loss in Columbus got tight. We’ve seen this happen to Nordstrom in other games recently, and Karson Kuhlman suffered a similar fate during his second call-up.

The Bruins are supposed to have the type of depth that would allow them not to pile the minutes on their top players even with David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk and Marcus Johansson out of the lineup. It might be difficult to replace those guys but Boston should at least have placeholder-type players that Cassidy can lean on to provide an occasional energy shift and to manage the puck well when they’re on the ice.

Instead Cassidy is piling the minutes on the likes of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. And the past two games the Bruins didn’t get any points in the standings to show for their shortened bench. There’s no telling what effect the extra minutes on Boston’s best players might have moving forward.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney can’t be blamed for three key forwards getting injured at the same time, but clearly he’s overestimated the effectiveness of several of his prospects at this stage of their careers. The depth issue is becoming a factor and combining with Boston’s propensity for falling behind to bring the Bruins back to Earth.

Boston will have to solve both problems to avoid making this race with Toronto for second place closer than it should be.

Related: Despite Bruins’ streak-ending loss, David Krejci’s run still worthy of adulation