Ryan: Slumping Bruins have far more issues than just an inexperienced D corps

(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

When it comes to doling out blame following Friday's debacle in New York, it's tough to ignore the damning optics displayed on the Madison Square Garden scoreboard.

After getting trounced by the Islanders, 7-2,  on Thursday night, a decimated — and inexperienced — Bruins D corps managed to tighten things up in the second leg of their back-to-back slate with the Rangers.

Well, tighten things up might be a bit misleading, given the Bruins only relinquished SIX goals on Friday night against a Rangers team also missing key cogs like Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba.

With Boston forced to soldier on without a pair of hard-nosed defenders that shore up Grade-A ice in Jeremy Lauzon and Kevan Miller — coupled with the loss of a transition ace in Matt Grzelcyk that often helps counter against even the stingiest forechecking efforts — the results have been disheartening, to say the least.

Whether it be rookies like Urho Vaakanainen getting pushed around by skaters in high-danger areas, depth options like John Moore getting exposed under heavier workloads or even veteran stalwarts like Brandon Carlo getting burned with poor reads and careless turnovers, what was a stout blue line to open this season has quickly devolved into a sieve — with the Bruins surrendering 11 goals in just their last four periods of action.

A feel-good victory down at Lake Tahoe feels like a distant memory at this point for the B's – who have now dropped three of their last four games in regulation and continue to be thinned out at just about every part of their lineup due to injuries.

Of course, if there's one flaw that stands above all others right now, it's the state of Boston's D corps. Not only have the volume of goals against Boston spiked as of late — but the manner in which opponents have been able to land punches against the B's is cause for concern, with far too many easy looks, odd-man rushes and soft netfront play manifesting in front of both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak.

"This doesn't happen here," Brandon Carlo said postgame. "And it can't go on any further than this. There's been times in my first couple years where we've had one game like that, but we've always bounced back. So this is definitely unacceptable. And we got to look in the mirror and move forward but recognize and learn from the past two days."

With half of Boston's starters on defense currently on the shelf, some stumbles were going to be inevitable on the blue line — albeit not this extent.

But when it comes to identifying the culprits of Boston's recent skid, Bruce Cassidy acknowledged that not all of the blame can be handed to the youngsters pressed into service in top-four roles.

It is to be expected for there to be some hiccups for those rookies logging 20+ minutes a night. What isn't expected, however, is for a number of established cogs in this B's lineup to continue to not pull on the rope to carry the Bruins through this downturn.

And speaking postgame, Cassidy made sure that this growing pool of underachieving regulars weren't going to escape criticism for this sordid stretch of hockey.