Bruins Notes: Slow Start Digs Deep Hole For Boston Vs. Golden Knights

Boston fell 4-1 to Vegas

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December 14, 2021

BOSTON — The Bruins fell 4-1 on Tuesday night in what felt like a textbook trap game.

Boston was coming off a three-game win streak, getting at least a point in five of its last six games to close out a West Coast swing. After all that travel, and a few positive COVID-19 tests to throw off their game plan, the Bruins didn’t come out with the energy they needed to sustain for 60 minutes.

“Mentally, it cost us tonight. We need to play a better first period, a safer first period with what we’ve got going on,” coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game, joining the team after a stint in health and safety protocols himself.

“I think early on, mentally, it took us a while to check in. And that could be a number of things. I wasn’t on the road trip, but I understand there was a lot of travel, some late nights and I think it will catch up to you and that’s why getting through the first period was really important for us to get our legs under us, get back into our hockey mode. We weren’t able to do that. Part of that was execution obviously.”

Goalie Jeremy Swayman was victim to some unlucky bounces that saw the Golden Knights go up 2-0 in the first period.

From there, Boston’s slow start turned into a deeper hole. The Bruins gave up another one before the end of the period before Vegas took a 4-0 lead in the second.

Despite a bit of a burst to start the third, with a goal from Patrice Bergeron to avoid the shutout, it was too little too late.

“We had to have a better start,” Cassidy said. “And we just didn’t.”

Here are more notes from Bruins-Golden Knights:

— Alternate captain Taylor Hall wasn’t as willing to write off travel as the reason why Boston didn’t come out firing on all cylinders. After all, Vegas played on one less day of rest after coming out to Boston from the West Coast.

Still, the situation in the NHL, and all of professional sports, really, certainly was deflating.

“Yeah. We all took the shots and we’re in the same situation again, so it is disheartening,” Hall said.

“We’re on the road and we’re trying to do the right things away from hockey and it is what it is. I mean, that’s the world we live in right now. Hopefully, at some point hopefully this spring is the last time we have to deal with this stuff but it is disheartening. You’re seeing it in football, you’re seeing it in basketball, you’re seeing it all over the place and I know (Craig Smith and Brad Marchand) are feeling fine. They could be playing the games, so we’ll just deal with it. Every team has to go through it at some point.”

Now, the entire club is crossing its fingers that no other cases arise before or during a two-game stretch in Canada this weekend. The last thing the Bruins need is having a positive case turn up in Montreal or Ottawa, forcing them to quarantine north of the border.

— Without Marchand yet again, the Bruins were missing the intangibles he offers. As he’ll continue to miss time in protocols, especially with a trip to Canada coming up, Cassidy will look to some fringe guys to step up.

“That’s a great opportunity for Anton Blidh, for Trent Frederic, Connor Clifton, guys that have been kind of in-and-out of the lineup that can solidify — maybe a (Curtis) Lazar — those guys can pull you into it. I think Nick Foligno was trying and he was buzzing in front of the net.”

— Tuesday’s COVID-19 news came one day after a testing issue with Linus Ullmark, who was slated to get the start between the pipes. By the time it was sorted out, Swayman already got the call.

“For me, preparation doesn’t change,” Swayman said of the surprise. “You could get the call the morning of, 10 minutes before, it doesn’t matter. You want to prepare the same way every game so you’re ready to play.”

— Perhaps Tuesday’s loss wasn’t the best example, but Boston’s goaltending tandem has been playing extremely well of late. It might be a coincidence, but with Tuukka Rask back practicing with Boston, perhaps some friendly competition is brewing between the three goalies: Rask, Swayman and Ullmark.

“It’s great to see him back,” Swayman said. “He’s a great person to have around the locker room. Great mentor for me and many other guys. It’s the same thing, we’re all on the same team here. We all want what’s best for the team and if he can come and be a positive for us that’s perfect. We can’t ask for much more so it’s great to see him around.”

— Boston sets off on a three-game road trip, starting with a tilt against the New York Islanders on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. NESN will air an hour of pregame and postgame coverage around the game.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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