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Halak’s indecision part of Bruins’ lackluster loss to Devils

Matt Kalman
December 28, 2018 - 12:20 am

It was a play we’ve seen NHL goaltenders make 1,000 times.

New Jersey forward Blake Coleman blocked Torey Krug’s shot at the Devils’ blue line and the puck deflected all the way down to Boston’s end. More often than not the goaltender will come out to clear the puck away when it’s apparent the forward is going to beat the defenseman in the race to the puck.

But Halak didn’t leave his crease. Coleman stayed ahead of Krug and wasn’t catchable by Brandon Carlo before he put a backhand shot past Halak for a 3-1 lead. The Devils went on to win 5-2 at TD Garden on Thursday, and Halak’s indecisive play was a microcosm of the Bruins’ out-of-sync play throughout the night.

“Because you know the puck was bouncing, it was coming with good speed and it started slowing down so I was going to go for it, but then I didn’t think I would be able to get it, it would be an easy tap-in for him,” Halak said. “So I just tried to stay in and unfortunately it still went in. So it’s one of those.”

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t want to criticize his goaltender too much but was disappointed in the misplay, especially considering Tuukka Rask’s miscues with the puck in the loss at Carolina in the Bruins’ previous game on Sunday. The Bruins have now lost two in a row after winning three in a row.

“It looked like he could’ve came out. Jaro’s been pretty good playing the puck. So I’m going to trust him to make the right call there but it certainly looked like he could’ve,” Cassidy said. “The last two games, some puck plays with the goalies, maybe it’s just that time of year where it creeps into your game and it’s going to happen, it just happened to happen for two games.

“But at the end of the day he didn’t [come out>. You hope he makes the save. If the guy is coming with a lot of speed, that kid he can really fly, he’s underrated, finishes plays. So in hindsight I wish he had come out, give it a shot. But that’s neither here nor there.”

Unhappy returns

The positive news was that Zdeno Chara (left MCL), Kevan Miller (throat) and Jake DeBrusk (concussion) returned to the lineup after lengthy injury absences. But on the negative side each guy took about a period to shake off the rust and the Bruins had a hard time finding chemistry with three of their forward lines and two of their defense pairs shuffled.

There were some signs the Bruins might’ve been sitting back thinking that adding three regulars back into their lineup was going to produce a win without extra effort. They gave up the first goal 25 seconds into the game.

Center Patrice Bergeron, who scored one of the Bruins’ goals, wasn’t having any of that.

“I hope not. I mean quite the contrary, I think you're hoping to get a lift from that you know,” he said. “I mean obviously they had a good start … it’s obviously not the start that you want and [we> got on our toes after that instead of really going back at it. Obviously it’s one of those games where there’s a lot of things you don’t like and I could sit here and talk about them, but bottom line we need to be a lot better.”

Related: How Zdeno Chara got ready during Christmas to return to Bruins’ lineup