The Bruins took another day off skates Thursday, their second break in five days, their season underwater (3-4-0) for the first time this season after a dispiriting 5-2 loss to the Rangers Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Only a couple of weeks into a new season, they need help in net, on offense, and in overall puck management, three striking areas of concern for a team attempting to rise from the ashes after missing the playoffs each of the past two seasons.
“We need every break we can get here with this hockey club,’’ said coach Claude Julien, frustrated over a steady stream of penalties that spelled ruin for his club Wednesday.
The biggest break would be the return of Tuukka Rask, their No. 1 goaltender, who hasn’t been seen since slogging his way through a win last Thursday over New Jersey. Hindered by what is believed to be a hamstring pull, Rask could be back for Saturday’s game vs. Detroit, Julien said Wednesday, but that may have been simply a coach’s wishful thinking.
Rask, Julien noted, had not skated since the game against the Devils, and goalies typically need a few days to tune up their stamina and timing before returning from injury.
In the three games Rask has missed, Julien turned to three different goalies to start in his place. All of them lost, something that happens roughly once a season in the NHL, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last time it occurred in Boston was late in the 2006-07 season when Joey MacDonald, Tim Thomas, and Hannu Toivonen all started and lost during Dave Lewis’s one wild and wacky season behind the Boston bench.
Anton Khudobin lasted the full 60 minutes in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Canadiens. Malcolm Subban made it halfway through Tuesday’s 5-0 shellacking by the Wild. And Zane McIntyre, Subban’s reliever vs. Minnesota, went the distance in the loss at Madison Square Garden.
The Bruins lost the three games by an aggregate 14-4 and were outscored, 9-0, in the second period.
“The second period is becoming an issue — it already is an issue for the team,’’ said defenseman Torey Krug, one of many who’ve contributed nothing, or next to nothing, on offense. “The last two [games], we played well in the first and we haven’t been able to continue that.
“I think we started well [in New York], then the penalties just got away, and our discipline wasn’t there. You give a skilled team like that so many power plays, they’re going to score. It’s not acceptable.’’
Asked about the strong start in New York, Julien said, “You’re certainly not happy with the outcome. We’re here to win hockey games here, not to pat ourselves on the back when we think we deserve it.’’
McIntyre had a few good moments vs. the Rangers and would be the obvious starter if, as expected, Rask can’t answer the bell Saturday. He made a couple of sparkling stops on the Rangers’ first power play, with the Bruins holding what has become a rare lead, but he also needed to be better on the Ranger goal that tied it at 2-2, and then the 4-2 jawbreaker in the third.
The tying goal, by Kevin Hayes, came after Hayes skated by the net and goal line, still in possession of the puck. McIntyre held position near the left post, but let his right skate pop out at the bottom of the iron. The alert Hayes, brother of struggling Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes, promptly popped a shot from behind the goal line and watched it ricochet into the net for the equalizer.
“Kind of fell off my post, lost my net a little bit,’’ said McIntyre. “In this league, that’s going to come back to bite you in the butt.
“I think that’s where sharpening up those little areas of my game, and seeing how guys just whip pucks toward the net from behind the goal line . . . until you actually experience it, see it . . . you can practice all you want and stuff, but the speed and stuff was certainly something I needed to acclimate to.’’
Equally hard on the eyes was Brandon Pirri’s goal, his second of the night, that put it out of reach, 4-2, with only 2:23 gone in the second. A Marc Staal attempt from left wing sailed behind the net, came off the back wall, and Pirri zipped into the front for the easy pot at the open right post.
“To see that carom off the boards . . .” said McIntrye. “That’s one I store in my file cabinet and make sure I recall it.”
Only 43 seconds later, Jimmy Vesey spiked his fourth of the season — with David Pastrnak out of position — and the hammering was complete.
It’s possible the Bruins won’t have Pastrnak available for duty Saturday night when they face the Red Wings in Detroit.
According to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, it will hold a disciplinary hearing with Pastrnak on Friday, following his hit to the head of the Rangers’ Dan Girardi midway through the second period on Wednesday.
With Pastrnak closing on him in open ice, Girardi reached up for an airborne puck, and while still erect, dropped down into Pastrnak’s skating track just as the Bruins winger came across and nailed him with a stiff shoulder check. The point of contact was Girardi’s head, which appeared to daze the Blueshirt blue liner. Girardi went to the room for attention (later to return), and Pastrnak went to the penalty box to serve his minor penalty.
The hearing, part of the standard supplemental discipline process, will help determine whether Pastrnak will be suspended. He will likely claim the hit was unintentional and that he could not anticipate that Girardi would be positioned, his head vulnerable, when Pastrnak caught up with him. Yet given the league’s increasing vigilance about such hits, it would not be a surprise if Pastrnak were told to sit out a game or two.
Running on empty
With David Backes sidelined following elbow surgery Monday, Julien will be hard-pressed to wring more than a couple of goals out of his lineup each night. Pastrnak and Austin Czarnik, shifted from center to wing, scored in New York. Hayes and Matt Beleskey have gone Full Thornton (0-0—0) through the first seven games. Krug also remains stuck at zero, leaving him in arrears of rookie Brandon Carlo (1-1—2), whose main role is to pair with Zdeno Chara in the shutdown role . . . Czarnik likely will remain at right wing on a No. 2 line with David Krejci and Ryan Spooner. Krejci still needs time to build back his strength after offseason hip surgery. He was particularly weak on the draw in New York, winning only 5 of 14 faceoffs (36 percent) . . . The Bruins are scheduled to skate Friday morning in Brighton before boarding their charter flight to Detroit.