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  • Bruins breakdown again in New York to complete nightmare weekend

    James Garrison November 25, 2023

    NEW YORK — Just like their loss to Detroit the day before, the Boston Bruins came out flat, surrendering two early goals to the Rangers and falling behind 2-0. It wasn’t until 12:37 of the opening stanza that Boston recorded its first shot on goal. 

    After they registered their first shot, the Bruins caught fire briefly. Boston dominated the next few minutes and scored two goals in 24 seconds to even the contest. 

    Standing net front, Charlie Coyle potted stout feed from Trent Frederic to cut the deficit in half. The fourth line followed up the Coyle line’s productive shift, with Morgan Geekie blasting home the temporary equalizer. 

    “We responded well,” Boston captain Brad Marchand said. “We’re usually pretty good at that. In the last couple of games, when we get ourselves back in it, we kind of shoot ourselves in the foot a bit. When a player makes a big play or gets a big goal, we’ve got to bear down.”

    But the Bruins fell asleep during a power play opportunity late in the first. A speedy Chris Kreider snuck past Charlie McAvoy and buried the breakaway attempt for his second goal of the opening period. 


    Kreider’s tally didn’t rattle the Bruins as they went right back to work to start the second. With some power play time carrying over into the opening minute of the middle frame, David Pastrnak buried his 13th of the year on Jonathan Quick just 26 seconds in. 

    The Bruins followed up the Pastrnak goal with a strong start to the middle frame. But Boston lost all of its momentum late in the second, as the Rangers closed out the second period with two goals in the final 3:23 to regain a two-goal lead. 

    The Rangers continued to hang goals on Boston’s defense in the third period, as breakdowns continued to crush the Bruins’ comeback hopes. Coyle potted his second of the afternoon early in the third, but it was not nearly enough to make up for Boston’s defensive shortcomings. 

    The Bruins fell by a final of 7-4, ending an overall ugly week for them, save for Wednesday’s 3-1 win over the Panthers. 

    “A little too loose in the D-zone, not backchecking, stuff like that,” Marchand said. “Turning pucks over in bad areas, that’s not where we have success.”

    Here’s what we learned as the Bruins dropped back-to-back regulation losses for the first time this season.

    Boston’s recent slippage starts in the defensive zone

    Saturday may have been one of Boston’s worst defensive performances of the Jim Montgomery era.

    The Bruins’ recent defensive slippage hit a new low after the Rangers hung seven goals on Linus Ullmark and could have had a few more. Boston’s struggles to defend the rush continued, yet that wasn’t the only area where they struggled on Saturday.

    “I think gaps were an issue and F3 not being on the strong side,” Montgomery said. “I thought they killed a lot of plays on us. That’s us not winning battles, not having secondhand support.”

    Against a Rangers squad who also played their second game of a back-to-back, Boston’s defense failed to pick up sticks in front of the net, left the middle of the ice open and gave up way too many breakaways. Of all the seven goals allowed by Ullmark, none were primarily his fault. 


    “It’s unacceptable,” Coyle said. “That team played a back-to-back. It looked like we did way more than they did and that’s not fair to our goalies who’ve been so great for us. We left them out to dry the last couple.”

    The Bruins struggled to take on a gauntlet of a week

    With matchups against Tampa, Florida, Detroit, and New York, this week was poised to be a litmus test on the NHL-leading Boston Bruins. 

    Already with many quality wins this season, Boston was ready to take on a gauntlet of a week: four matchups all against teams occupying a playoff spot in the East. With the week now over, the Bruins picked an inopportune time for their defensive slide.

    “There’s a lot of things where our habits and details are kind of eroding on us defensively here,” Montgomery said. 

    Although clearly unhappy with the recent results, Montgomery, as well as Marchand, understand the situation for what it is: a two-game slide.

    With a much larger sample size of success, Boston will look to build on their previous run and improve on the mistakes they made during this week’s daunting slate.

    “Losing two games in the NHL, it happens,” Montgomery said. “We’ve been spoiled by what we’ve been able to accomplish here for a while in the regular season…that comes down to all of us – our coaching staff, players – being better prepared.”

    Coyle continues to produce

    If there’s a silver lining from Saturday’s ugly outing, it’s Coyle’s point-per-game production at the quarter pole of the season.

    Returning with James van Riemsdyk and Trent Frederic, Coyle’s two goals stood as a rare positive for the Black and Gold Saturday. 

    “You could see us starting to play the right way after [the timeout],” Coyle said. “We get a goal and another goal. It sometimes shouldn’t come to that but a good play by [Montgomery] to do that and try to change momentum.”

    Coyle’s production is a welcome sign in the Bruins’ collective effort to replenish the on and off-ice gaps left by Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. So far, he’s provided a spark through the early-season highs that have now turned into lows.

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