The Bruins were bound to lose a game sooner or later and it came Tuesday night at the hands of the Ottawa Senators.
Boston lost 7-5 and nearly completed the comeback, but the defense broke down, Jeremy Swayman had an off night and the offense only could do so much in an attempt to stay undefeated.
Head coach Jim Montgomery didn’t seem too worried about his team after the loss. After all, it’s just one game and the defense is down three of its top-four players.
Here’s what we learned from the loss.
The defense had too many holes
We knew it was going to be a long game when the Sens took a 2-0 lead three minutes into the game before making it 3-0 prior to the end of the first period. The defense looked lost, broke down far too many times, lost battles and ultimately couldn’t get the job done. Not having Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy certainly hurts, but the defense must be better in their absence.
Anton Stralman’s Bruins debut also left much to be desired. He had an ugly pass behind his net intercepted and turned into an Ottawa goal. Rust could be a factor after visa issues kept him out of game action since the Bruins began their season, but these are things that just shouldn’t happen.
Hampus Lindholm, Jakub Zboril and Mike Reilly all didn’t look their best either between getting beat on rushes and puck giveaways. The second night of a back-to-back always will be tough, especially when there’s travel involved, but there’s no excuse for how many turnovers the Bruins racked up.
“Our checking was, I guess the best word to describe it was atrocious,” Montgomery said on NESN’s postgame coverage. “We were on the wrong side of pucks. We weren’t coming back hard enough. We left our goalie out to dry. We didn’t protect the net front.”
Speaking of the goalie
Jeremy Swayman probably wants to forget about his outing.
The goalie surrendered six goals and made 19 saves on 25 shots. It was an uncharacteristic showing from the second-year netminder, who now has a 5.41 GAA. And even though Montgomery said the Bruins left Swayman out to dry, he needs to do a better job at stopping some of those shots. It’s not solely on him, though, but Swayman shouldered the blame before promising the team he will fix his wrongs from Tuesday.
“I felt like I let the boys down, so I’m going to go back to the drawing board and do whatever I can because I guarantee you that I’m going to make this up,” Swayman told reporters after the game.
We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves here and say Swayman is in a sophomore slump after one bad game. He’s been known to bounce back from tough outings and we’ll see how he bounces back from this one.
Patrice Bergeron gets better with age
After a stellar 2021-22 season, the Bruins captain seems to be playing at an even higher level through Boston’s first four games. Bergeron finished with a team-high seven shots on net and amassed an assist and a goal. He has points in three of the Bruins’ four games and he made some B’s history with his tally. Bergeron now has 403 goals, which is the third-most in franchise history. He surpassed Rick Middleton on Tuesday and sits behind Phil Esposito with 459 and Johnny Bucyk with 545.
How short is Craig Smith’s leash?
Smith was a healthy scratch which could have been anyone’s guess after his team-low 7:03 of ice time in the Bruins’ win over the Florida Panthers. It’s been a disappointing start to the season for the forward, who was looking to bounce back after an ugly ending last year. It hasn’t exactly translated, and it makes you wonder if Smith will be the odd man out when Montgomery needs to get someone else into the lineup. The veteran obviously will slot back on the third line in short order, maybe even Thursday night against the Anaheim Ducks. A reset could benefit Smith and he could use the healthy scratch as motivation to play at the level we know he’s capable of, but if he continues to struggle, just how much patience will Montgomery have?