The Boston Bruins have been a pretty solid defensive team this season.
But they’re going to want to dissect the final 20 minutes of Saturday’s game and then promptly incinerate the tape.
One breakdown and bad move after another ultimately felled Boston, as it fell 5-4 to the Rangers at TD Garden. The game entered the third period tied at one apiece before the two sides combined to score seven goals.
The Bruins made some odd decisions. Mike Reilly rimming a puck around the boards while uncontested led to the ultimate winner for the Rangers, a move that baffled head coach Bruce Cassidy. Too often, New York was able to waltz into the slot with minimal issue which led to goals for the visitors on multiple occasions.
Cassidy put it best in one word: “Perplexing”
“Completely surprised, did not see this coming,” Cassidy said after the game, over Zoom. “A lot of stuff that, I don’t even want to call it frustrating, it’s just perplexing more than anything how it all happened at once. I know that New York’s a good team … but just a lot of things that we don’t typically do or correct a lot quicker and get our game back. We just couldn’t in the third.”
The sentiment was echoed by the players.
“We just got sloppy and stopped playing the way we were the last two games,” Nick Ritchie said. “They’ve got a skilled team and they were making some plays and they burned us a few times there.”
Added David Pastrnak: “It just felt like we weren’t ready, which is unacceptable. We played great for 40 minutes. It was a tough lesson, but we’ve got to learn and move on and we need to be 100 percent ready for the (playoffs). So, we’ve got a couple of games left and that’s going to be our goal.”
Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Rangers-Bruins game:
— Pastrnak scored the 200th goal of his NHL career Saturday with his third-period tally.
“I did not imagine, obviously, (scoring 200 NHL goals),” Pastrnak said. “I was just playing, having a lot of fun. I’ve been growing as a player and as a person, next to great leadership and next to great teammates. I have been part of a great group, which I’m really happy about and appreciate every moment I spend here with the guys.”
The star winger is pretty sure Brad Marchand scooped up the puck, and provided he did, Pastrnak’s plan is to send it back home to his mother.
— While it wasn’t an outright bad showing from Tuukka Rask, the Bruins probably hoped from a little more out of their goaltender, especially with the playoffs nearing.
“Obviously, we didn’t do a good enough job in front of him in the third, we were extremely loose against a good team that can make plays,” Cassidy said. “And, obviously, he didn’t bail us out of any of those situations either, so not good from the blue line in from everybody in the third period.”
Rask finished with 18 saves on 23 shots. All of New York’s goals were scored at even strength.
— The Bruins now have two games remaining on the schedule: Monday against the New York Islanders and Tuesday against the Washington Capitals.
Cassidy indicated that the Bruins never planned on making wholesale changes to the roster for the game against the Islanders, and that the plan was to just make small tweaks where necessary. It sounded like that remains the intention, with more players getting rest Tuesday since it’s the second leg of a back-to-back.
— With the loss, the Bruins no longer have a shot at the top seed in the East Division. Boston, Washington and the Islanders all have played 54 games. The Caps have 73 points, the Bruins 71 and the Isles 68.
The Capitals are locked in to either the second or third seed. One Islanders loss or one Bruins win is all that’s needed to lock in Bruins-Capitals and Penguins-Islanders for the first round of the playoffs.