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  • Takeaways: Potential trades won’t solve Bruins’ shutdown issues alone

    Tim Rosenthal February 25, 2024

    It will take more than addressing needs at the trade deadline for the Boston Bruins to rectify their ongoing shutdown issues.

    For the second time during this recent four-game road trip, the Bruins blew a multi-goal lead in the third period. The Oilers couldn’t secure their come-from-behind effort Wednesday night after overcoming a three-goal deficit for one of their three equalizers.

    Charlie McAvoy’s game-winner stopped the proverbial bleeding in Edmonton. On Saturday, they completely unraveled in the final 20 and the extra session.

    Jesper Boqvist and Danton Heinen paced the Bruins to a 2-0 lead in the second period. 

    Through the first 40 minutes, the B’s sustained healthy habits in front of Jeremy Swayman and provided plenty of puck support in the attacking end. By the third, the Bruins generated little to no attacking zone time and failed to match Vancouver’s desperation. 

    The defensive coverage near the front of the net became beyond too loose for comfort. Attempts to clear the puck out of harm and create any form of transition kept failing. The faceoff losses piled up.

    Alas, a Vancouver bunch that entered Saturday losers of four straight and dropped a 4-0 decision in Boston over two weeks ago, pounced.

    Brock Boeser took advantage of multiple miscommunications off a faceoff — and a late arriving Derek Forbort — to pull the Canucks within one at 12:49 of the final frame.


    With Boeser setting a screen during a net-front battle with Brandon Carlo, Filip Hronek fired a seeing-eye shot through traffic to notch the tying marker with 1:11 remaining in regulation.

    “I don’t think we played the right hockey in the third period,” Carlo told reporters. “From getting pucks north out of the D zone to getting pucks behind them and playing the right style of game to kind of limit their chances. I don’t think we did a good enough job of that.”

    Another error in judgment resulted in the Bruins committing too many men in a fraction just 1:09 into overtime. The Canucks completed their 3-2 come-from-behind win after Boeser tipped J.T. Miller’s shot past Swayman just 23 seconds later. 


    Here’s what we learned following Boston’s fifth consecutive overtime appearance.

    Potential trades won’t solve shutdown issues alone.


    Saturday marked the 10th time the Bruins went to overtime this season after relinquishing a lead in the final 20. Within the last two minutes of regulation, the Bruins allowed a tying goal a whopping seven times.

    Standings-wise, the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins continue to bank points with their overtime appearances. Their lead over the Panthers is down to a single point, yet they’ve taken advantage of the NHL’s flawed point system to remain near the top of the East.

    Frankly, the Bruins aren’t performing like a team worthy of potential Stanley Cup contention. Perhaps they can escape a round or two with a favorable matchup. But that’s IF Don Sweeney can land the necessary defensive and center upgrades at the trade deadline with limited cap space, draft capital, prospects and other potential internal assets to work with.

    One way or another, their potential playoff outlook will look a tad clearer after March 8. But addressing their defensive and physical deficiencies around the net with external options won’t solve their shutdown woes overnight.

    “We haven’t been good enough, right?” Montgomery told reporters. “A lot of points squandered. I have to look at player usage and who’s on the ice. We know it already, but I’m probably going to the well all too often with the same players.”

    Swayman tried to maintain a positive spin.

    The killer instinct displayed throughout their record-breaking regular season in 2022-23 evaded the Bruins at the worst possible time last season.

    This year, they’ve turned that ugly trend into a habit.

    On the ice, they’ve struggled to meet the moment in shutdown situations. But perhaps their lack of urgency also resonates off the ice.

    Granted, Montgomery, Swayman, Heinen, Boqvist, and Carlo didn’t dodge the latest round of questions from the press. And as Swayman took to his stall, the third-year Boston netminder took a moment to highlight some silver linings.

    “I think there’s a lot of positives tonight, and something we can grow on,” Swayman said after his 35-save performance in Vancouver. “We definitely lost a point tonight, and we’re not happy with that. But a lot of good things came from it, so I think we’re going to move on as a team and learn from it.”

    What were those positives, exactly?

    “Getting the job done early and making sure we have an on-time start,” Swayman added. “That’s something, especially on the road trip, that we wanted to do, and I think we did a good job of that.”

    Swayman also mentioned a Charlie McAvoy hit and the defensive coverage through the first two periods as other positive developments.

    He’s not wrong. For two of their three games in Western Canada, the Bruins arrived with an on-time start. In Saturday’s instance, they didn’t reap those benefits until the second period.

    Anyone who followed Swayman knows about his positive and even-keeled demeanor. But as Boston’s lack of urgency continues to show through the on-ice product, Swayman’s optimistic tone following another bail-out effort may not sit well with a disgruntled Bruins fanbase.

    Boston’s sputtering power play got lost in the shuffle.

    In an effort to snap out of a 3-for-30 rut since the All-Star break, the Bruins promoted Morgan Geekie and Jake DeBrusk alongside the three pillars of their top man-advantage unit in McAvoy, Marchand and Pastrnak. 

    Montgomery’s latest attempt fizzled. The primary and secondary units generated little to no traction during their four attempts.

    In the rare instances where they established entries, the Bruins struggled to connect with tape-to-tape passes and remained stagnant within their setup, firing a paltry four shots on Thatcher Demko.

    A timely kill early in the third provided the Canucks with a building block. They used that to hem the Bruins deep with a relentless pushback.

    The latest man-advantage woes may have gotten lost in the shuffle amid Boston’s latest third-period downfall. But it doesn’t negate that the league’s seventh-ranked power play has been anything but powerful since returning from their bye week.

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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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