One month in, Bruins make 12 look like an uneven number

Tuukka Rask‘s numbers appear slightlydown, but he has been backed by only 12 goals in his last seven starts — again underscoring how challenged the Bruins are to score.

A few thoughts, reflections, recollections, and shots high off the glass following the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals Saturday night at TD Garden:

  The Bruins have too much AHL Providence in their varsity lineup at the moment, particularly on offense, to overcome a Caps roster dotted with the stick skill and firepower of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, et al.

So in that sense, competing effectively, particularly after falling into an early 2-0 hole, was a decent effort for the banged-up Bruins. Even had David Krejci and David Backes been in the lineup, they still would have been challenged, albeit against a club that was a mediocre 6-6-1.


Yet all in all, being 5-4-3 after a month isn’t bad for a club that entered the season trying to force-feed a bunch of kids into significant offensive roles and now hindered by injuries to valuable vets.

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Washington’s puck prowess was on full display when Ovechkin drilled in the 2-0 lead at 13:06 of the first. Kuznetsov, parked halfway down the right wing wall at even strength, exploited a passing lane the width of the entire northbound side of Route 128. You know the rest. Ovie the Great one-timed it by Tuukka Rask like only he can, all but summoning a lightning bolt from the hockey heavens. It came only 40 seconds after Rask thwarted Ovechkin’s breakaway, snuffing out his doorstep mash at the right post.

“I picked it up late,” said Rask, who figured he might have been too deep in his net. “He can shoot it so quickly, and, you know, he did it twice [during the night]. The second time was in the second period. He kind of whips his blade at the last second, and you can’t really get a read on it.”

“The second one, I had my stick there. But you have to respect him. He’s a great goal scorer, and if he gets those opportunities — I think he had three similar ones today — most likely he’s going to get one in.”

  It was the second tepid start in three games for the Bruins, coming only five days after a dreadful first period in Columbus. Reminiscent of poor starts at the start of the season in back-to-back games against Colorado.


Some of it, opined Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, has been a maturity issue.

“I’m not blaming it on young guys,” he said. “We have a young, inexperienced group to a certain extent. So I think some of these games, they wait to see what happens, instead of initiating. Once it gets going, and they get the temperature of the game, we’re OK. But they need to have a better understanding of being on time, getting going right away. It’s a bit of a product our personality right now.”

A line like that of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak doesn’t need a tutorial on the need for hot starts, but overall it’s a young group, which underscores again the absences of Backes, Krejci, Adam McQuaid, and to a lesser extent Ryan Spooner.

“Some the guys don’t know what to expect,” Cassidy said. “All of a sudden, two, three, four, five shifts go by, and it takes a while. So we have to impart that on them better. But they have to understand, it’s the National Hockey League, and you have to be on time, have to be able to dig in early.

  Rask faced three breakaways, including Ovechkin’s in the first, then a pair by Tom Wilson and Lars Eller in the opening five minutes of the third. So although the Bruins had a 33-27 edge in shots, it easily could have been a blowout if not for Rask’s stout work, especially on the walk-in chances.


The 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound Wilson was a beast, finishing with two goals and five shots in a relatively modest 14:12 ice time. He barreled by a flat-footed Charlie McAvoy along the right wing wall for his break-in, then failed to lift a backhander by Rask for what would have been a hat trick.

  No one shot more than Pastrnak, who fired 10 times, putting six on net and scoring twice. He noted the day before, following practice, that he needed to return to a shoot-first mentality. In his previous four games, he landed only eight shots on net.

Call to the bullpen

Rask’s numbers are down: 2-4-2, 2.70 goals against, .905 save percentage. But he has been backed by only 12 goals in his last seven starts, again underscoring how challenged the Bruins are to score thus far in the season. Krejci is expected to be out again Monday with the Wild in town. In his six games sidelined with a bad back, the Bruins have scored just 14 goals.

Backup goalie Zane McIntyre returned to Providence on Sunday, but don’t be surprised if he is summoned back Monday to be Rask’s backup. Anton Khudobin (3-0-1) still wasn’t ready as of Saturday.

Rask will not play both ends of the upcoming back-to-backs with Toronto (Friday, Saturday), which means McIntyre or Khudobin will be the pick for one of them.

Grand reception

Great to see Southie’s Chris Rooney on the ice prior to faceoff, receiving deserved laurels and backslaps for working his 1,000th game as an NHL referee. Rooney in the summer of 2016 had to skip a World Cup assignment when he ripped up his Achilles’ while training . . . Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, longtime head of the NHL’s Board of Governors, will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame next Monday night in Toronto. Two of his former Black-and-Gold stick carriers, Mark Recchi and Dave Andreychuk, also will pick up their rings and blue blazers. Could be worth Jacobs trying to coach one or both out of retirement to help his 2017-18 edition score a little. They combined to dent the back of the net 1,217 times.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at