The Boston Bruins needed to win.
After starting the season with three straight losses, the Bruins needed to carry over the momentum from their successful, two-for-two, road trip. Because before Wednesday night, the Bruins were winless at home.
After Wednesday night, they still are.
The Bruins had a two-goal lead up until 12 minutes were left in the third period. Then, the Flyers scored two goals within three minutes to tie it and send it to overtime where they won it. Just like that. The team that skated 24 hours prior pulled off a come-from-behind win against a team that hasn’t played since Saturday night.
Six games in and we’re still learning a lot about the Boston Bruins but what we’re learning–for the most part–are how to make assumptions. For one, the Boston Bruins might score a lot of goals this season. They already have 22, third best in the league. On the other hand, the Bruins are probably going to give up a lot of goals. They’ve already given up 26 goals this season, second worst in the league. Something doesn’t make sense.
The obvious answer is the makeshift, bend don’t break defense that the Bruins have iced the last six games. Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid are playing top four minutes while rookies Tommy Cross and Colin Miller are partners on the third pairing. It’s not an ideal situation, but right now, that’s what they have. They’re going to have to live with the defense and they’re going to have to learn to find ways to overcome it.
The goals allowed number still stands out, though: 26 in six games, 21 in four home games. Bad defense plays a larger than life role, but it’s hard to excuse the last line of defense. It’s hard to ignore that Tuukka Rask hasn’t looked like Tuukka Rask at all.
“I just think Tuukka needs to stop the puck, said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “There’s nothing that’s different and there may be mistakes, but that’s why you have a goaltender, to stop those.”
Rask wants you to know he feels pretty good. At least, that’s what he said after Wednesday night’s 5-4 loss where he stopped 32 of 37 shots. He admitted he let in some bad goals this season. He knows he can’t be happy about his performance. Still, the numbers are grim for Rask; 1-3-1 with a .854 save percentage and 4.40 goals against average. After letting in the Flyers tying goal, Bruins fans’ let out a mock cheer for Rask’s next save. Has it gotten this bad?
No. Of course not. But Rask still needs to be better. He knows it, too.
“I don’t think he’s making excuses either,” said Julien. “He’s pretty good about owning up to his play. But we need to be better as a group, from the goaltender on out, and our D’s didn’t close quick.”
Rask is off to his worst start in a Bruins uniform. This season, the defensive corps playing in front of him is the weakest he’s ever had. With the defense likely staying the way it is, Rask must make more timely saves because whether it’s earned or not, he’s going to be the one to take the blame.
So this is what it has come to. Winless in four games at home. Booing one of the top goaltenders in the NHL. Maybe we’re not learning anything about the Bruins after all.
Or maybe, we’re just too busy making assumptions.
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Mike Miccoli covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers and has been a credentialed member of the media for all Bruins’ home games for the past five years. As a former player, coach and official, Miccoli has been around the game of hockey since the age of three. Along with his work on THW, Miccoli has also been published in the New England Hockey Journal, Improper Bostonian magazine and on BostInno.