What we learned: No deja vu for Bruins
TORONTO — Unlike their season-opening win in Columbus where the Bruins came back from a pair of two-goal deficits, the Black and Gold were behind the 8-ball from the get-go.
The snowball effect started at 2:14 of the first when Connor Brown notched his first of his NHL career. It continued with a soft goal given up by Anton Khudobin via the stick of Mitch Marner at 11:56 — his first of his NHL career — and sloppy D that led to James van Riemsdyk avoiding a diving Colin Miller and easing his way to his first of the season 1:17 later.
With little to show, the Bruins fell to 1-1 with a 4-1 loss to a Leafs team that celebrated its centennial season with legends from years past taking part in a pregame ceremony.
“I think the biggest thing right now [to learn] is that we dug ourselves a hole at the beginning of the game with some poor choices and some bad penalties that gave them some momentum and we had to battle back,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said postgame. “Overall not a good enough effort on our part, and at the end of the night
“Overall not a good enough effort on our part, and at the end of the night you don’t deserve that win.”
Untimely penalties came in the form of Brad Marchand, who sat for a pair of minor penalties moments after David Backes engaged in a spirited fight with Nazem Kadri just two seconds after Brown’s tally. They also came in the form of Khudobin, who took a tripping penalty just when the Bruins were looking to generate a little momentum in an attempt to pull within a goal.
Aside from Backes’ fight and Zdeno Chara standing up for Torey Krug after the 5-9 defenseman got dropped by Matt Martin, the Bruins only real bright spot came late in the first when David Pastrnak notched his third of the season on a beautiful feed from John-Michael Liles on the power play.
Here are a couple of other things that we learned from the B’s first loss of the season.
Khudobin struggles in first start
Making his first start in a Bruins uniform since April 23, 2013, in a loss to the Flyers, Khudobin had a night to forget with four goals allowed and a penalty.
Like the rest of his teammates, Khudobin just couldn’t get into a flow allowing three goals on nine first period shots.
“I felt alright, but my start wasn’t good at all,” said the Russian goalie. “Nine shots and three goals, you know, it was frustration I would say.”
Khudobin did bounce back a little bit in the second stopping all nine shots he faced in that span. But that big save to give his team a lift was missing for the most part as the young Leafs speed was too much to handle.
Julien went with Khudobin over Tuukka Rask, who was sore following the win in Columbus. The plan all along was to give the Bruins backup goalie one of the starts on the three-game road trip, but it just so happened that it came in Toronto instead of their next stop in Winnipeg on Monday.
Rask was given a maintenance day at yesterday’s practice by Julien.
“I knew that pregame skate I was going to play,” Khudobin said. “I didn’t know yesterday [at practice], but I was preparing my game in the pregame skate, so I was fine.”
Faceoffs another sore spot
No doubt, the Bruins miss Patrice Bergeron — still day to day with a lower body injury — in many areas. One of those areas they missed him on Saturday was the faceoff circle.
In another example of chasing the play against the Leafs, the B’s were just 20 of 52 from the faceoff dot — a success rate of 38 percent. Instead of establishing offensive zone time or trying to speed up their transition game, the Bruins found themselves having to start their shifts defending the opposition more often than not.
“It really decides whether you’re going to be starting with the puck, or you’re going to be chasing,” said Chara. “Obviously it’s not just a centerman’s job. It’s kind of everybody’s job to [help] and that’s a major difference whether you’re going to be starting the play or you’re going to be spending time chasing the puck.”
Come Monday in Winnipeg; the Bruins hope to go from chasing the game to playing with the lead before jetting back to Boston.