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  • What We Learned: Bruins facing adversity for the first time this season

    Matthew Castle November 11, 2019

    The Boston Bruins found a way to tally a point, yet they still couldn’t snap their early-November slump. Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden extended Boston’s losing streak to a season-long three straight games.

    The Flyers, who had a 29-28 shots on goal advantage, flew into Boston early Sunday morning following their shootout win in Toronto. Yet, despite its second game in as many nights, Philadelphia looked like the fresher team.

    Travis Konecny opened the scoring in the first period after he hammered home a rebound to cap off a 4-on-1 rush. Philippe Meyers found the back of the net four minutes later with a beautiful wrist shot to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

    “Poor. That’s about it,” a blunt Bruce Cassidy said about Boston’s slow start. “To sum it up it was poor.”

    Yet, despite trailing by two for most of the night, the Bruins answered in the third. Danton Heinen netted his fourth goal of the season on a spinorama rebound. Brad Marchand brought the score even with a beautiful wrist shot from the top of the left circle with just over seven minutes remaining in the period.

    Even with the third-period offensive onslaught that included a David Pastrnak penalty shot, the Bruins couldn’t seize the lead and had to settle for extra time. Joel Farabee’s first-round shootout tally sealed their fate as Philly earned its fourth straight victory.

    “Well, [the Flyers] played the right way. So, give them credit for playing a good game and managing the puck. [They] kept it simple, protected the front of their net when we did get through. They forechecked well, I thought, with good structure, so we had a hard time getting going,” Cassidy added. “Why was it poor? I don’t think we had enough urgency, would be the simple answer.”

    Here’s what after Boston’s second home loss of the season.

    Charlie Coyle needs to stay on the third line

    Coyle’s versatility benefitted the Bruins ever since the Weymouth native came home from Minnesota at last year’s trade deadline. So, in search of a little more firepower, Cassidy slotted the former Boston University product on the second line with Heinen and David Krejci.

    One thing really stood out after Coyle’s first assignment at wing this season; the Bruins need him as their third-line center.

    It’s not because of poor play by Coyle either. In fact, he fills that role nicely. It’s more to do with how he makes the bottom-six a more well-rounded group.

    The third line missed Coyle’s creativity against Philadelphia. The makeshift trio of Bjork, Senyshyn and Par Lindholm didn’t generate many quality scoring chances aside from their second-period goal that was waved off.

    The top line rarely has an off night. The Bruins need to rely on their secondary scoring to get the job done when Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak don’t show up on the scoresheet. They compromise their scoring depth when Coyle has to move up to the second line.

    Replay strikes again

    They didn’t lose because of this, but, for the fifth time this season, instant replay overturned another Bruins goal.

    In the early stages of the second period, Connor Clifton fired a shot at Philadelphia netminder Carter Hart during an odd-man rush. An opportunistic Lindholm pounced on Hart’s juicy rebound and appeared to have put the puck past the goal line.

    Lindholm went through the customary high-five line as the Bruins celebrated what should have been their first goal of the game. But the refs deemed differently as they waved off the tally.

    The perplexing thing here: no one inside TD Garden really knew what the original call was. Not the crowd, not the players and certainly not Cassidy.

    “Well, the part I don’t like is nobody in the building know’s what’s going on originally. There’s no call,” Cassidy said. “We’re all standing around waiting while they huddle up. Like, I’ve always felt like, can you call something? Originally? And there was no whistle, so to me, the puck crosses the line so then, what is it?”

    Well, we know that the replay isn’t the Bruins friend after overturned calls against the Avalanche, Canadiens and Flyers — all coming during losing efforts.

    The Bruins are facing adversity for the first time this year

    The Bruins took the league by storm during the first month of the season. Things have changed over the last few weeks as they carry a three-game losing streak for the first time in 2019-20.

    Cassidy’s squad had every reason to come out flying following their horrendous outing in Detroit on Friday night. That wasn’t the case at all. Boston started flat in the opening 20 minutes against Philadelphia — where they were outshot 14-5 — and carried a 2-0 deficit until Heinen’s third-period tally.

    They just didn’t have that same level of energy and execution. Some of that is due to injuries — namely to Jake DeBrusk — and some are due to the frequent lineup changes.

    The Bruins showed signs of what made them so successful early this season with their third-period effort. Cassidy scraped his offensive-minded defensive pairing in Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy and went to his usual bread and butter. It made a difference as McAvoy reunited with Zdeno Chara on the top defensive pair while Grzelcyk and Clifton returned as Boston’s third defensive duo.

    The defensive discipline that led to Boston’s 11-1-1 start has gone out the window over the last four games. The Bruins allowed an eye-opening 15 goals during that stretch. That simply shouldn’t happen given their depth on the back end.

    Cassidy’s squad did some things well to earn one point, but they have plenty of work ahead of them. Sunday provided a checklist of what not to do moving forward.

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    Matthew Castle

    Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com


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