Any player or coach will tell you that injuries are part of the game. Some teams that deal with the injury bug can overcome missing players. Other squads might tread water or find the task too tall to overcome without key members of the roster.
Right now, without the likes of David Krejci, David Backes, Ryan Spooner and Adam McQuaid, the Boston Bruins are finding themselves in the latter category. Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Auston Matthews-less Toronto Maple Leafs in the second game of a home and home proved that they need reinforcements sooner rather than later.
As for the guys that they do have, well, all they can do is scratch their heads over the past three games.
“You can’t hide behind any injuries or anything,” said Tuukka Rask, “just have to play with the guys who are out there and try to find a way to win.”
Whether it was a slow start against the Rangers in New York, or a late-game collapse in the first game of their home and home with the Leafs in Toronto, the Bruins entered Saturday’s contest trying to establish any type of rhythm they could get prior to going on their annual three-game California trip.
They didn’t find a rhythm. Instead, they found more ways to shoot themselves in the foot – on both ends of the ice.
It all started with a pair of first period mistakes from Brandon Carlo that led directly to the Leafs’ first two tallies of the evening. The first mistake: an errant turnover from his own end trying to go up the seam in transition that led to Mitch Marner stealing the puck and netting his second of the season at 8:52. Over six minutes later, Carlo took a hooking penalty and Bruins killer James van Riemsdyk capitalized on the power play with his ninth of the year – and third goal in two games.
“I was kind of the Achilles heel tonight with my mistakes,” a frustrated Carlo said postgame. “If I didn’t make those, we probably would’ve been ahead in those areas.
Still, the Bruins had chances to help avenge Carlo’s pair of blunders.
Frank Vatrano’s tip in at 15:18 of the opening stanza gave the Bruins a little bit of life. But that was the B’s lone bright spot.
On a night where they outshot Toronto 39-25, more often than not the Black and Gold did not make things hard for Curtis McElhinney. None easier than a 5-on-3 chance early into the third where they top power play unit of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Danton Heinen and Torey Krug only managed one shot on goal during a two-man advantage for 1:07.
Moments after killing off the second half of that man advantage – served by former Bruin Dominic Moore – Morgan Reilly’s shot deflected off Carlo and past Rask for the proverbial dagger at 6:52.
“There were a lot of chances over there, and a lot of plays that we didn’t connect and we have to do a better job at bearing down on,” Bergeron said. “Like I said, we had a lot of chances to get back into the game, especially on the 5-on-3, and we’d didn’t do the job. So, it’s on us and we have to be better – bottom line.”
“Yeah, you know, the past two games just haven’t gone our way,” added Anders Bjork. “I think everybody’s issue is not being consistent throughout the whole game and it’s something we’re definitely trying to focus on and improve upon.”
The Bruins may have Krejci and Spooner back from injury sooner rather than later. Regardless of who’s in the lineup, the Bruins, who are now 0-3-3 against the Eastern Conference this season, need that consistency from top to bottom.
“We can’t start feeling sorry for ourselves because it’s not going our way,” head coach Bruce Cassidy summed, “and I don’t think we will.”
Things need to go Cassidy and company’s way sooner rather than later – preferably by puck drop Wednesday night in Anaheim.