Brian Fluharty/USA Today Sports

Avalanche 4, Bruins 0: Bruins somehow fail to put in real effort against Avalanche

Ty Anderson
October 09, 2017 - 5:41 pm

Here’s a weird stat: The Bruins have not beaten the Avalanche in Boston since Mar. 1998. Here’s an even weirder stat: Colorado netminder Semyon Varlamov has never allowed a goal in Boston on Columbus Day. They’re irrelevant stats any day besides today, but both held serve in a 4-0 Avalanche win over the Bruins on Monday.

So with all that in mind, and with the sleepiness of a Monday matinee a painfully noticeable issue for the Bruins, perhaps this beatdown was what you should have expected.

But this certainly was an unexpected reality check for the Black and Gold, at least when you look at all the positives that came with Thursday’s 4-3 win over the defending Western Conference champion Predators and hard weekend of practice from the B’s, and how every single one of them went out the window in a painfully dull 60 minutes. 

(And this is also where I tell you that the Avs had an NHL-worst 22 wins last year.)

It began when Sven Andrighetto scored on the first Colorado shot of the game, with a puck that hit Tuukka Rask’s glove and then trickled up and over him and into the Boston net. The Bruins furthered their own misery when they found themselves on the power play -- against an Avalanche shorthanded group that had allowed five goals on 10 trips to the penalty kill this season, no less -- only to watch their second unit lose a puck battle along the wall, which allowed J.T. Compher to bury a shorthanded goal through Rask to make it 2-0 after the opening 20 minutes of action.

“Giving up a goal there, it’s unacceptable,” B’s rookie Jake DeBrusk said of the power-play goal against. “Something that we take to heart. It’s never a good thing to go down 2-0 to any team in this league. Especially against a team like Colorado.”

“I don’t think we were good in any area early,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the defeat. “It wasn’t like a barrage of chances [against] either. We gave up some good ones. A breakdown in D-zone coverage, with people there, just not going to the right spots. Call that a young mistake, there were a lot of the young players on the ice, but it was a breakdown and then the two-on-one, we didn’t play it as well as we could, we weren’t strong on the puck down long – had some young players on the ice – but I’m not going to put it on them, I mean, we had plenty of time to get back in the game.”

Burned on their first power-play chance, the Bruins were gifted two more chances in the second period, but failed to muster anything close to a real chance against the woeful Avalanche penalty kill.

No goals -- be it from the Avs, and especially not the B’s -- came. Hardly any shots came, either. 

“I don’t think we shot enough,” Cassidy admitted of the team’s power play, which finished 0-for-4. “Our will wasn’t there to recover pucks. And most good power plays, you get a team fatigued, then the chances start coming and seams open up because they are not killing well because they are tired.. We worked on it every day for three days. We are going to have to keep hammering away on that. But that is an area of the game that tonight could have been a big difference maker for us.”

Nail Yakupov scored the third Avalanche goal of the afternoon when he caught a wandering Rask too far out of his net, and he would score the insurance empty-netter with less than a minute to go, but from start to finish, this was a game in which the Bruins had no interest in playing, as if they knew the stats working against them.

“The core group that we rely on – it just wasn’t a good effort from young, old, in between, and clearly put myself in that category,” said Cassidy. “We’re supposed to be ready to play at home, especially after a couple days off, so that was the biggest disappointment to me because things aren’t going to go your way some nights, you’re going to fight the puck, and it clearly looked like it was going to be that night, but to not have the energy to sustain it and get yourself back in the game is disappointing.”

Losses happen, and the season is a long one, but it’s entirely too early in the season for the Bruins to simply chalk something up to bad effort and move on, especially when you look at their light schedule to date. The Bruins were the only NHL team not to play this past Saturday night, and with three straight days off, there was ample time for the B’s to prepare for what the Avalanche could throw their way. It’s also entirely too early for this team to think that they’ve accomplished anything and that they’re above outworking a team like the Avs.

“From the first shift, everything went the wrong way,” David Pastrnak acknowledged. “But those games happen. The season is long and obviously we have to be better. We have to learn what we did wrong and how we can do better next time.”

“It’s something that is a process,” Rask, who stopped 19 of 22 in defeat, said of the B’s results through two games. “We have to go out as a team as we move along here and we just have to develop the certain style of hockey that we want to play. I think the first game was more of an example of what we want to look like out there than today.

Concluded Rask: “But obviously it’s early in the season and still trying to put the pieces together.”

The good news is that Cassidy and the Bruins will immediately get a chance to atone for this no-show when they begin their three-game road swing against these same Avs.

The bad news: They won’t get a chance to snap their 12-game home losing skid to the Avs until 2018, at the very least. You’ll just have to hope it’s not on Columbus Day.

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