It seemed clear when the Bruins’ mindset shifted Tuesday afternoon.
Up 1-0 in the second period against the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins doubled their advantage on a Joakim Nordstrom goal that came following a scramble in front of the net. That was just 4:27 into the middle stanza, and from there the Devils had the Bruins on the ropes seemingly the rest of the game.
Boston ended up squandering its two-goal lead, with the Devils forcing overtime and eventually a shootout, where the B’s lost 2-1 in six rounds.
The Bruins were cruising (not in a good way) after that second goal, basically packing it in on the defensive end and saying best of luck to goalie Jaroslav Halak, who needed to make 42 saves in the game.
Chalk it up to the lack of regulars in the lineup, sure. With David Krejci, Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy, Connor Clifton and Danton Heinen (healthy scratch) all out, the likes of Brett Ritchie, Par Lindholm, David Backes, Jeremy Lauzon and Steven Kampfer got chances Tuesday afternoon. During some stretches, though, the lack of effort, both on a team and individual level, was staggering, and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy seemed to call that out following the game.
“Part of it is us disappointing,” Cassidy told Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley on “Bruins Overtime Live.” “We get some guys that get to go into the lineup, we’re missing a few people, get an opportunity to step up, contribute to the team, because trust me as a coach you hear about it from players when they don’t get their minutes. And here’s a night tonight where they could’ve pulled on the rope a little more, it didn’t happen for us. At the end of the day, I don’t know if it was energy or just playing the right way, we just didn’t manage pucks in the second period, it started to snowball on us and we probably got what we deserved in the end.”
Some issues are preventable, and lack of effort is one of them. Clearly that won’t sit well within the dressing room and on the flight home.
Here are some other notes from Tuesday’s Bruins-Devils game:
— The Bruins continue struggling to figure out how to win in shootouts.
Six times this season a shootout has been required, and six times the Bruins have lost. Chris Wagner was the lone Bruin of six to cash in on his opportunity, as all of Boston’s top line forwards, among others, were unable to beat Mackenzie Blackwood.
Of course, shootouts aren’t a thing in the playoffs, so the Bruins essentially just have to weather this storm during the regular season. But they’re leaving points on the table, and with teams like Toronto and Florida heating up, the Bruins can’t get careless in that phase of the game.
— Despite a pedestrian record, Halak did have a solid month of December.
In seven games, the backup netminder went 3-2-2 with a 2.00 goals against average and .930 save percentage, delivering a pair of shutouts, as well.
Though Tuukka Rask is getting a deserved All-Star GaMe selection, Halak’s effort is not to be overlooked.
— Both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak had points Tuesday, bringing them each to 59 on the season, good for a share of third place in the NHL.