Everything you need to know from the Bruins’ 4-1 loss to the Avalanche in quickie form, with BSJ insight and analysis:
TWO THINGS TO KNOW
Boston’s woes against the Avs continue: The Bruins have now only lost four games in regulation so far in 2019-20 — two of which have now been delivered by the Colorado Avalanche.
Saturday’s result, a 4-1 defeat at TD Garden, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given the history between these two clubs. For some reason, the Avs have the Bruins’ number whenever they match up in Boston — with the B’s last regulation home victory against Colorado coming all the way back on March 30, 1998.
For reference, Ted Donato and Mike Sullivan skated in that game for Boston, while Charlie McAvoy was just three months old at the time.
Eventually, it takes some bad puck luck or tough breaks to generate a losing streak of such magnitude, but there weren’t that many flukes for the Bruins on Saturday, with the B’s dealt their first regulation loss at home since back on June 12, 2019 — Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Boston had previously captured at least a point in its first 17 home games this year, along with boasting an overall point streak of 13 games entering Saturday’s matchup.
But for a Bruins club already relying on strong third periods (+20 goal differential) to bail itself out of numerous slow starts for the past couple of weeks, another stretch of lackluster play was eventually going to catch up to it, sooner or later. You might be able to orchestrate comebacks against teams like Chicago and the Rangers. But the Avs? You’re playing with fire — and the B’s got burned.
Avs look like a wagon out west: It was largely a frustrating night for Boston, considering they only managed to land eight shots on goal through the first 40 minutes. Chalk it up to a busy workload (four games in seven days), the fact that Bruce Cassidy noted this morning that multiple players are under the weather or that lack of urgency that has plagued this team for weeks now. But Boston simply didn’t have it for most of the night.
Boston’s struggles when it came to generating sustained pressure in the offensive zone were evident for most of the evening, but a healthy portion of the credit has to go to the Avalanche, who have now won six games in a row.
We don’t get to see the Avs all that often, but they seem an awful lot like the Western Conference’s version of the Washington Capitals — plenty of skill sprinkled throughout the lineup, but with the size to make even the most effective forecheckers want to rip their hair out.
While Boston’s fourth line of Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, and Joakim Nordstrom did an admirable job of containing Nathan MacKinnon and Colorado’s top forward unit, the Bruins labored when it came to creating quality looks in Colorado’s zone. Add in some defensive gaffes from the likes of Charlie McAvoy and Danton Heinen, and an opportunistic Colorado club made Boston pay again and again on Saturday.
Chris Wagner: Make that two goals in as many games for the Walpole native, who opened the scoring for Boston at 13:14 in the first period after tipping a blast from John Moore past Philipp Grubauer.
Sean Kuraly: Kuraly and Boston’s fourth line more than held their own against Colorado’s big guns upfront. During the 9:37 of 5v5 TOI in which Kuraly was primarily matched up against MacKinnon, Boston outscored the Avs, 1-0, while scoring chances were only tilted in the visitors' favor, 6-4. If Boston had managed to somehow scrap together a point out of this one, a ton of credit would have gone to the fourth line’s efforts of slowing down MacKinnon and Co.
Charlie McAvoy: A defensive lapse for McAvoy proved to be costly in the final minutes of the second period. While Boston had tilted the ice back in its favor with some extended O-zone shifts, a defensive breakdown between McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk gave Andre Burakovsky all the time he needed to strike, beating Jaroslav Halak at 18:21 in the middle stanza. That was the backbreaker.
Danton Heinen: After somehow managing to avoid catastrophe in the D-zone for most of the first period of play, the Bruins were finally done in by some turnovers in their own zone, with a miscue by Heinen starting a sequence that led to Ian Cole’s goal at 9:17 in the second. That tally gave the Avalanche a lead that they would not relinquish.
Coyle Line: Cassidy shuffled up his forward lines once again on Saturday, especially with some new combinations struggling to get off the ground. A new-look line of Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk and Heinen didn’t offer much in a top-six role — with Boston out-attempted, 9-2, and outshot, 3-0, in their 8:43 of 5v5 TOI together.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Boston had one glimmer of hope in the final minutes of play, staring at a 6v4 sequence after pulling Halak from net while on a power play. And then … this happened. This about sums it up tonight:
PARTING THOUGHT: At the end of the night, perhaps this was the most riveting matchup from Saturday’s contest.
LOOKING AHEAD: After closing out their five-game homestand, the Bruins will now head out on the road for a four-game road trip, starting on Monday with a matchup against the Ottawa Senators. The road will get tougher from there for Boston, with matchups against the Capitals, Lightning, and Panthers scheduled.