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  • What we learned: Troubling trends pop up in Bruins’ loss to Red Wings

    Tim Rosenthal April 5, 2022

    At times the Boston Bruins found themselves playing down to their competition. Tuesday’s contest against the Red Wings provided another example of that development.

    Without David Pastrnak and Trent Frederic, a handful of troubling trends haunted the Bruins even after holding a 2-0 first period lead on Erik Haula’s 13th goal of the season and Brandon Carlo’s shorthanded marker.

    Boston’s power play sputtered for the second time in as many nights. Jeremy Swayman encountered another rough outing amid one of the toughest stretches of his rookie campaign. The issues surrounding the revolving door on the third defensive pair continued, this time with Mike Reilly and Derek Forbort.

    All the troubling trends popped up after Dylan Larkin cut Boston’s lead to 2-1 with under a minute left in the opening frame. The Bruins’ performance spiraled after relinquishing their 23rd goal of the season in the final minute of a period.

    “Well, it shouldn’t affect the whole outcome of the game,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters afterward. “But, we’ve been through it so much, and it’s a problem.”

    Michael Rasmussen evened things up at 5:46 of the second after a failed clear attempt from Reilly.

    Filip Zadina put the Red Wings ahead for good nearly six minutes later on a 2-on-1 rush.

    Vrana struck again 4:08 into the third to extend Detroit’s cushion to 4-2.


    The Bruins nearly pulled off a comeback bid with Patrice Bergeron cutting the deficit to one after tipping Charlie McAvoy’s point shot past Alex Nedelkovec (career-high 47 saves). But the late push went for naught after Nedelkovec delivered a long-distance feed to Sam Gagner for the empty netter.

    Cassidy’s club relinquished a golden opportunity to at least pull within a point of the Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division after Toronto blew a 5-1 lead in their overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

    Here’s what we learned as the Bruins sit three points behind the Leafs following their 5-3 setback at Little Caesars Arena.

    The third defensive pairing remains a sore spot

    The Bruins envisioned a third pairing rotation with Reilly, Forbort, Connor Clifton and Josh Brown during their stretch run. Yet, they’re a ways away from settling on a potential postseason pairing.

    Reilly didn’t make his case to remain a regular in Boston’s defensive lineup. The 28-year-old saw his minutes decrease Tuesday following his second-period blunder on Rasmussen’s equalizer.

    The frustrations continued Forbort put the Bruins in a tough spot after a failed aggressive play at the blue-line zone led directly to a 2-on-1 with Zadina and Vrana for Detroit’s go-ahead marker.

    No NHL team needs their third pair to become significant difference-makers come playoff time. But the fifth and sixth blue-liners on the depth chart can’t become liabilities either. The Bruins are witnessing the latter scenario play out after watching the Red Wings strike three times against the Reilly-Forbort duo.

    Swayman has hit a rough patch

    Aside from an 0-for-4 outing from their sputtering power play, the Bruins put forth a solid offensive effort against Nedeljkovic. They just didn’t get the fortunate bounces after Carlo netted his second career shorthanded goal.

    Nedeljkovic embarked on a career night to help the Red Wings snap their six-game skid. His counterpart on this evening finds himself trending in the opposite direction.

    Indeed, the Bruins could’ve used a few timely stops from Swayman even with his D struggling to support him. His biggest miscue of the night came on a short-side insurance tally from Vrana early in the third period.

    “Their goaltender was excellent, and defensively we had a couple of guys in the second and third period that had a tough time,” Cassidy said to the press. “We expect better, and we expect our goalie to bail us out at times too.”

    Swayman bailed the Bruins out more often than not when they needed him. But the former University of Maine standout finds himself in the middle of one of the toughest three-game stretches of his career.

    Tuesday marked the second time in three starts where Swayman allowed at least four goals in an outing. He entered his 32nd start of the season a week removed from relinquishing a career single-game worst six goals during Boston’s 6-4 loss to the Leafs and struggled to handle the puck — despite only allowing a pair of tallies — during Saturday’s start against the Blue Jackets.

    More often than not, Swayman has bounced back well following a rough outing. Because of that, the shorthanded Bruins could turn to Swayman again for their marquee showdown against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.

    The injuries are piling up

    The Bruins entered Tuesday without their prolific offensive dynamo in Pastrnak and third-line grinder in Frederic. They witnessed another significant exit less than 24 hours later.

    Prized trade deadline acquisition Hampus Lindholm didn’t return Tuesday following a collision with Pius Suter late in the second period. The Bruins confirmed Lindholm’s lower-body injury in a tweet during the third period.

    “It’s a lower-body and he didn’t come back,” Cassidy said of Lindholm’s injury. “Typically, those things require… when you don’t come back, there’s probably going to be an X-ray involved or an MRI. He seemed okay in there, so I don’t think it’s serious. But obviously, when you don’t come back you don’t know better until you get better information.”

    Lindholm, Pastrnak and Frederic will each have a couple of extra days to heal from their respective wounds.

    The Bruins will have their hands full against a Lightning bunch who are 6-7-1 in their last 14 games. They’ll absolutely need all hands on deck — primarily with a healthy Pastrnak, Lindholm and Frederic — in their attempt to secure a four-game series victory against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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