What We Learned: Don’t overthink Bruins’ loss to Lightning
Analyzing things — even overanalyzing things — is just human nature. It’s natural to try to pinpoint where, exactly, the Bruins went wrong in their 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. So no worries if you find yourself doing that.
Sometimes it does take that play-by-play dismantling to figure out what really happened, but Tuukka Rask summed up this one nicely:
“They came to play playoff hockey,” he said postgame. “We didn’t.”
Good thing this isn’t the actual Stanley Cup Playoffs, also known as the event the Bruins have already more than punched their ticket to.
The Lightning had 30 shots on goal through the first 31 minutes of this game. Meanwhile, the Bruins looked like they were trudging through molasses the whole duration. Tampa Bay was quicker, hungrier, better in every aspect. And honestly…there’s not much reason to worry about that.
They needed this win for so many reasons. 1) Morale: They couldn’t let the Bruins sweep them in the regular reason. 2) A possibility of tangible post-season benefit: The Bruins still control their own fate, but pretty much need to win the rest of their games to clinch first place in the Atlantic. 3) Morale, again: the Lightning had to prove they weren’t a one-and-done in front of their fans.
So they did — and it was a huge, well-deserved win for them. But it still means almost nothing for the Bruins. Seeing Charlie McAvoy’s sunburnt cheeks is a reason for celebration, not worry. They know they’ve got this where it actually counts.
Combination of wear-and-tear and rust (obviously) problematic
If there’s one person who doesn’t let the Bruins off the hook, it’s head coach Bruce Cassidy. Even he said “things will take care of themselves” after this game.
The schedule isn’t doing the Bruins any favors with four games in six days, but Cassidy was probably thinking about the strange dynamic the team has to deal with right now. His top defensive pairing in Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy has finally returned, and the starting lineup looked like itself for the first time in recent memory. Still, McAvoy missed the last 15 games — it’s going to take a few reps to get him in playoff form.
That, coupled with the beating the rest of the team has had to take to scrape out these wins, is obviously taking a toll.
Torey Krug didn’t ask for this job, but he had to carry the Bruins’ banged up defense through the latest stretch of injuries. Until he got injured himself, the power play spark plug pretty much did. He had help from Brandon Carlo, who was playing some of his best hockey in the past two weeks. But now Krug is back, and Carlo’s out for the rest of the season with a fractured left ankle he sustained in the Bruins’ routing of the Panthers.
Krug needs a breather, and pairing him with Nick Holden is the opposite of a breather.
The Bruins continue their Florida road trip on Thursday against the Panthers. They’ll close out the regular season with a home back-to-back against the Senators on Saturday and the Panthers on Sunday.