The Boston Bruins developed a case of self-inflicted Blues during Torey Krugs return to Boston.
They established an advantage early, with Patrice Bergeron scoring just 15 seconds after David Perron scored his 24th goal of the season just 34 crosses in Tuesday’s competition. Bergeron’s numbers marked his 13th career with a 20-goal campaign.
Billerica’s own and former Boston College Eagle Marc McLaughlin gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead with his second career career with 3:01 left in the opening penalty.
Even with Brandon Carlo out of injury, the Bruins brought their momentum into the early parts of the second period, generating more quality scoring chances at Ville Husso. But they began to unravel after Trent Frederic committed a head-scratching and untimely punishment during his exchange with Vladimir Tarasenko.
The Blues took advantage of the opening with Krug scoring the equalizer in the ensuing powerplay. Then they squeezed the life out of a shorthanded Bruins bunch after a pair of Tarasenko lamp lights of odd man-rushes late in the second and early in the last stanza.
Without three of their top-four blue-liners and their top-scoring scorer, the Bruins hardly established any pushback in the final moments, eventually succumbing to the Blues.
“It really is not very intelligent hockey,” an upset Bruce Cassidy said after the game. “We shot ourselves in the foot and couldn’t face a good hockey club. I’ve seen it before, but I haven’t seen it in a while.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s 4-2 setback in TD Garden.
“I thought we had a good start,” McLaughlin said. “And then we’ve just gotten a little away from our game.”
Cassidy gives Frederic a strict message with benching in the third period.
More often than not, Boston’s bench boss often goes in-depth with the media about his decisions.
This time, he needed only two words to express his frustrations that Frederic took a run at Tarasenko during his incorrectly timed second-period penalty.
Cassidy put Frederic in his doghouse afterwards. He skated just a few shifts with his linemates Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith late in the third period after spending over 20 minutes of playing time on the bench after his roughing minor.
The Blues were in action after Frederic’s penalty kick. While the Bruins made several self-inflicted fouls during the night – including a case where Coyle tried to protect the puck on the blue line instead of shooting it at the net, leading to another odd-man rush on Tarasenko’s second goal – Frederic the punishment became the turning point.
The frequent odd-man rush puts Jeremy Swayman in a difficult situation. He tracked the puck well and limited his rebound control after a recent hard stretch, yet Boston’s D hung him out to dry against a red-hot St. Louis flock.
The Bruins needed more out of their shorthanded list to bring down the Blues. But they also wasted a few more opportunities to at least keep momentum on their side when they were a man-up.
The fighting power game was “selfish”.
A once potent weapon went over to a powerless commodity over the last week.
If their 0-to-16 power-play display during their four-game road trip wasn’t bad enough, the Bruins somehow managed to make things even worse with Tuesday’s 0-to-2 playoffs.
Aside from the fact that Brad Marchand hit the post on their first power-play attempt, the Bruins hardly generated quality looks against Husso. They fired only three shots on the net in their two attempts at the man advantage, choosing to look for the perfect game instead of shooting puck at targets and generating secondary glances.
“Lack of execution,” Cassidy said of the problems with power play. “I think we’re selfish. Guys hold the puck too long and try to play instead of letting the puck do the work. I think the two things are pretty clear.”
In fact, the top power-play unit is not playing their bread and butter with Pastrnak’s one-timer at the moment. With that in mind, the homicide units turn to stop the secondary option for March and feed Bergeron from the half-wall to the bumper.
In the midst of their troubling tendencies, however, the Bruins have one crucial development above all else, with nine games left in the regular season.
Health is now Boston’s top priority.
For the most part, the Bruins escaped significant injury stretches with their core players in 2021-22. Aside from the COVID break earlier this year, they have embarked on their most challenging injury and illness period yet.
Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm and Matt Grzelcyk all sustained their respective wounds during the four-match road trip. They almost had another scare with Carlo after a Lars Eller hit in Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Capitals, but the Colorado Springs native did not miss a shift.
Carlo was not so lucky this time after leaving the first period against the Blues. The Bruins did not have a final update on Carlos’ specific injury or prognosis afterwards.
“He went and he was not feeling well midway through the first,” Cassidy said of Carlos’ exit after the match. “I’m guessing he’s being re-evaluated tonight or tomorrow; I have not heard …”
The Bruins did not have Carlos ‘services in the latter half of their second-round series against the Islanders’ final postseason. The right wing’s opportunities behind Carlo remain slim again. Connor Clifton and Josh Brown both serve best in a third-pair role, and the Providence pipeline hardly has any suitable blue-liners with right-hand shots to choose from.
On Thursday, the Bruins can have three of their top four defenders and their leading goal scorer out of the lineup in their matchup with the low-scoring Ottawa Senators. But any result remains secondary given their many injuries lately.
Cassidy and company will start a tough matchup in the first round. The last thing they need is a short start to their post-season.
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