Ryan: In a shortened season like this, Bruins can’t afford to have letdown games against East Division opponents

(Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

When it comes to looking at what lies ahead on the docket, the Bruins have to be licking their chops at the final stretches of the 2021 regular-season schedule — with eight of their last 28 matchups set against a cellar-dwelling Sabres team in a complete free fall.

But perhaps such optimism is a bit shortsighted.

After all, if we're gauging talent and expectations when it comes to matchups — then this Bruins roster should be putting away a rebuilding New Jersey team faster than a veal parm at Satriale's.

But such hasn't been the case at all, with Boston going 1-2-1 against the Devils in four tries, scoring just five goals during that stretch.

Sunday was far and away the most frustrating meeting between both clubs, with Kyle Palmieri scoring the lone goal of the evening with 4:37 to go in regulation to cap off a 1-0 victory for the visitors at TD Garden. 

Given the emotional high that the Bruins were running on just a few days prior during a statement win over the Capitals, Sunday's snoozer stood as a major letdown for the a B's club that hasn't posted consecutive victories since stringing together back-to-back W's on Feb. 10 and Feb. 12  — especially against a Devils team that just played the previous afternoon and was stuck in a 1-8-0 rut.

"I don't think we attacked their D enough," Bruce Cassidy said of Boston's offensive woes on Sunday. "We had some guys in our lineup if we look back, they probably didn't have real strong offensive games ... with the Devils this year, we haven't scored. We just haven't scored against them. The first game against them, I thought we had enough offense to score three, four, five goals. I think the next night we lose, one gets called back. For whatever reason, we haven't had a lot of puck luck against them. We need a little more will. And the goaltending's been good against us. At the end of the day, we've defended well against them, just haven't done the part on offense."

Currently, Boston's struggles when it comes to scooping up points against lesser competition is more frustrating than anything. But in another month's time, this irksome habit could become very, very costly.