Boston Bruins

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

It appears that not even history is on the side of Boston Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask these days.

In what has emerged as another sluggish October start, the 31-year-old Rask saw his six-game, two-season winning streak against the Montreal Canadiens come to an end behind 20-save performance in a 3-0 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.

And while the Bruins failed to provide with the offensive support needed to hang with Carey Price and the Canadiens (winners in five of their last seven games), Rask’s struggles were more of the same, as he failed to stop the bleeding for the Bruins.

Surrendering the first goal of the game at the 9:18 mark on what was an undeniably stoppable shot from the Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher, a multi-layered breakdown just 1:21 later allowed Max Domi to score his fifth goal of the season.

Excluding first goals (because those obviously can’t have a goal come before them), Rask has now surrendered a follow-up goal within two minutes of a goal against five times this season. Or, 41.7 percent of the time to date this season. This was the problem for the Bruins in their 7-0 Opening Night beatdown in D.C., and it was the problem in Calgary just last week.

Given the top-heavy nature of Boston’s offensive game right now — they’ve kept the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak line together and they’ve put their two best defenseman together with the reunion of the Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo pairing — this is a situation that Rask simply cannot put his team in on a consistent basis.

And yet, it’s been the most consistent element of his game this season.

The Bruins appeared to finally get on the board in the second period behind a snipe from winger Ryan Donato. But a successful challenge from Canadiens coach Claude Julien called the goal back as Anders Bjork was indeed a stride offside, and the Bruins never quite recovered — at least not before the second period’s conclusion, which left them still down by a pair of goals.

In search of their first goal of the night with 14:50, a trip drawn by Donato against Montreal’s Joel Armia put the vaunted Boston power play back to work. But even then, Rask’s troublesome night continued, as he was whistled for a trip against Paul Byron when playing the puck behind the Black and Gold’s net, which put an end to the B’s power play after just one real look.

What truly made Boston’s third period effort truly unbearable, though, was the seemingly obvious communication issues this group seemed to go through for reasons beyond explanation. Breakouts became painful, and zone entries were one and done.

Actually, by the end of it, those entries were lucky if they even led to a single real chance for the Bruins.

To make matter worse for the Bruins on a night that drew countless boos from the Garden crowd, Julien’s Worker CH squad really stifled the Bergeron Line in check (as much as one can), be it with physical play in the attacking zone or Jonathan Drouin successfully goading Marchand into a costly third-period penalty. That left the majority of the scoring opportunities to be handled by the bottom nine of the Boston forward corps, and they simply failed to deliver for B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Even when the Bruins were given another chance later in the third period with a full, two-minute power-play opportunity, the Bruins failed to create, and were limited to shots from the outside and just one Pastrnak chance between the circles.

Price finished the game with a 32-save shutout, good for his first win against the Bruins since Nov. 8, 2016.

Cassidy’s squad will get back to work Tuesday night in Carolina against the Hurricanes.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.