Kalman: No amount of offense was going to save Bruins in loss to Canucks

Matt Kalman
November 08, 2018 - 11:57 pm

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask didn’t have lofty expectations after he entered the Bruins’ 8-5 loss to Vancouver with the Bruins trailing 5-3 and soon found himself behind 8-4 at TD Garden on Thursday.

“I was just trying to keep it under 10, that’s what I was worried about,” Rask said after the defeat.

Much like the Bruins’ opening night loss at Washington (a 7-0 embarrassment), this loss was a two-goalie debacle. Jaroslav Halak’s NHL-leading stats took a body blow with five goals allowed on 19 shots before he was pulled with 5:07 left in the second period.

Rask, the No. 1 goalie to start the season, had a chance to stop the bleeding and instead gave up another goal on three shots in the second period and two more goals on 11 shots in the third period.

For maybe the first time in his two-plus seasons as the Bruins’ coach, Bruce Cassidy doubted his ability to manipulate his roster.

“Listen, [Rask]  didn’t make a lot of stops, wasn’t asked to make a lot of stops. It was more sometimes you do that to turn the momentum of the game,” Cassidy said about his goalie switch. “I didn’t think we were out of it, so part of me, you know halfway through the third [I was] second-guessing myself, maybe Jaro could’ve found his game, we could’ve battled back. But it’s neither here nor there now. So I don’t think if you’d ask either goalie they were on, and that’s that. When you score five goals, it’s usually enough to win. It’s going to happen from time to time.”

The offense tried to make up for the defensive woes, and Jake DeBrusk scored twice. But the secondary offense, as it was, came in more of a pinch than a handful. Danton Heinen’s goal came on the power play and Matt Grzelcyk’s goal came after DeBrusk carried the puck end-to-end. The third and fourth lines at 5-on-5 were still MIA.

And clearly the goal-hungry Bruins got a little carried away looking for offense and forgot about defense. Sure they could’ve used a stop – spectacular or routine – here or there from their goaltenders. But their puck management was dreadful and they failed to defend, especially when it came time to get a stick or a body in the passing and shooting lanes. Vancouver coach Travis Green shuffled his forward lines throughout the game in order to get better matchups on the road, and while rookie Elias Pettersson had a rare goal-less night (he had 10 goals in his first 10 games), the Canucks erupted for their largest goal total since 2009.

Bruins players to a man didn’t want to rate their performance. “We’ll watch video tomorrow,” most of them said in one form of another. Better them than me or you. But let’s face it, they’ve been playing this system for two seasons, adjusting to any changes for more than a month, and the poor performance against the Canucks was more about doing the things that had them allowing just 2.19 goals per game before Thursday than some system failure that’s going to show up on TV.

The goaltenders will get most of the blame for this loss because they usually do and it was a rare night when two guys couldn’t keep a beach ball out of the net. Similar to that infamous loss to the Capitals, though, there were more problems to solve than finding the right guy to man the crease.

“You know until midnight and then it’s a new day,” Halak said about him turning the page from his worst performance in black and gold.

Well hoping for a better day is better than hoping to limit the opposition to single digits. So the Bruins are already on the road to improvement just based on their expectations. We’ll see how that translates.