“Unacceptable” was the buzzword coming from the Boston Bruins late Saturday afternoon.
They had no other way to describe their 4-0 loss the New York Rangers in a matinee at TD Garden. They lacked the necessary jump from the beginning, and upon going down never showed the life they needed to tip things back into their favor.
Matt Grzelcyk might’ve put it best in just a few words.
“Mental lack of focus (was our issue),” the top-pairing defenseman posited. “It’s unacceptable.”
Bruce Cassidy agreed.
“At the end of the day, I think it goes to a number of things. But however you rate those things or stack them up, it’s unacceptable. Your effort has to be there every night,” the Bruins head coach said. “It was not there with our group, and that’s atypical of this group. So that’s probably the most disappointing thing today is our complete lack of effort and pushback. …
“You can have a ‘B’ game, you’re not always going to have your ‘A’ game,” Cassidy later noted. “But you better bring your damn ‘B’ game and at least do something to help the team win … and we just didn’t have that. We were well down the alphabet after ‘A’ and ‘B’ tonight unfortunately.”
The good thing for the Bruins is that it is exceedingly rare for them to completely lay an egg. Still, Saturday afternoon was far from the Mona Lisa of their 2021 campaign thus far.
Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Rangers-Bruins game:
— The Bruins got a bad showing from the top line, which only emphasized the struggles they’ve been having with secondary scoring.
Brad Marchand wasn’t playing at full health, while Patrice Bergeron had to log a good bit of time on the penalty kill. Their struggles contributed to David Pastrnak’s inability to make things happen.
“They’re going to have off nights,” Cassidy said. “We just need other people to get going and recognize that, that’s what good teams do, and we did not do that today.”
Whatever the case might be, it was an uncharacteristically bad showing from the first line.
— Interestingly, Grzelcyk floated the theory that once the Bruins went down 2-0, they checked out and started looking toward the next game.
It is hard to dispute that the Bruins’ heads weren’t where they needed to be. Despite a lackluster first 40 minutes, Boston went into the third period down just 2-0 — hardly an insurmountable deficit for a team that’s already come back multiple times in the third period.
“We seemed to be looking forward to the next game instead of still playing,” Grzelcyk said. “I mean, we were only down 2-0, all of a sudden if we get a quick one in the third and put them on their heels a little bit it could be a different story. We’ve done that countless times over the years. That’s frustrating to see that we weren’t able to gather ourselves.”
— When it came to diagnosing the issue in Saturday’s game, Cassidy pointed to the question a coach asks themselves after a listless showing.
“You see a game like that as a coach, (you ask) are we tired or are we out of shape?”
— With Saturday’s loss, Boston now has gone over a month since it last won consecutive games.
Said Grzelcyk: “We’re trying to build a little more consistency in our game and get a win and kind of roll from there, and it seems like the next night we’re not as sharp as we need to be.”
— The Bruins might have a reprieve of sorts next week when they face the Buffalo Sabres twice, but first they have to get through a Monday-Tuesday back-to-back against the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins, who have won four of their last five games.