(Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)
Bruce Cassidy returned to TD Garden for the first time tonight after the Bruins fired him in the off-season. The new coach of the Vegas Golden Knights took on his former team in a tilt that was one of the most electric games of the season so far.
Cassidy got the last laugh however, as the Bruins earned their first home loss of the season after dropping the game in a shoot-out, 4-3. There are a few points of emphasis that the Bruins and their fans should takeaway from the game tonight.
They Need to Start Being a Three-Period Team
One of the first things that should be noted about this game is that the Bruins need to start being a three-period team. Even though the Bruins are sitting comfortably in the standings, if they want to be a team that does the dang thing, then they should have a little higher sense of urgency throughout the whole game.
The first period of tonight was absolutely atrocious. It’s debatable that it was their worst period of hockey so far this season. Something that the Bruins seem to lack in their game this year is the switch of that urgency in their heads in the first period.
There have been several games this year when they cannot seem to get their offense going in the first, and don’t get the gears turning until the second. Tonight, they made a plethora of lazy passes, allowed too many slot passes, and had too many slow backchecks that left Jeremy Swayman out to dry.
The Bruins jumped down to a 3-0 deficit early in the second period. They then scored the next three goals to make an amazing comeback. It proved to be futile in the end, as the Bruins suffered their first home loss of the season in the shootout.
One of the positives that can be taken from this game is that they do earn a point in the standings. However, come playoff time (assuming they make it), that point isn’t going to matter. If they want to be a Cup contending team, they can’t be playing on the back of their heels for half of the entire game. They need to hammer their opponent for all three periods.
They Can’t Be So Hesitant To Shoot The Puck
Another thing that needs to be addressed is their hesitancy to shoot the puck. The Bruins have had so many blown opportunities this season because of the way some of the players try to be too cute with the puck.
We all know that it’s exciting when your team gets a nice tic-tac-toe goal. However, it seems like the Bruins tendency to try to force that to happen has lead more to their demise, rather than to glory. There were several occasions tonight when the Bruins had 2-on-1 breaks in the offensive zone.
Instead of shooting to score or at least generate a rebound for a follow up by another player, many times they tried to jam the puck across the slot to a pursuing player which either lead to the a Golden Knights defenseman tipping the pass, or it being completely offline.
This isn’t something new to the Bruins either. They are notorious for doing this for a number of years in the past, which costs them crucial moments in the game.
They Need to Fix Weak Links In Their Personnel
One last thing that needs to be addressed in their game is working out the kinks in their fourth line. The line has been much better than they were last year, but it still needs a lot of work. Hockey is a team sport, which means if they want to be serious threats come playoff time, they cannot have any weak links in their lineup. This includes the line that doesn’t see as much playoff time.
Tomas Nosek is a huge example of what I am referring to. Lately, it seems like he is just lost offensively. It doesn’t seem like he wants to shoot the puck, makes one too many extra passes, and isn’t feeding it to the net. The Bruins haven’t brought up too many of their players from Providence this season yet, but it may be time to be looking in that direction. If Nosek doesn’t refine his play, it may be time to give one of the younger players a shot.
The Bruins return to action in Colorado on Wednesday, December 7th. They handled them pretty well in their most recent game against them, beating them 5-1. The players need to shift their focus on this next game and not let the first loss at home of the season sting too much. Even though they have beat them in the past, the Avalanche are still a very tough team to beat. If they don’t batten the hatches down after tonight, they can be in for a very bumpy road trip.