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Bruins were 'easy out' in loss to Devils

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Bruins finished their 5-2 loss to the Devils with a whopping 42 shots on goal.

If that's surprising to you, let me assure you that you're not alone; I honestly can't even remember more than five legitimately solid scoring chances throughout the night, let alone 42 shots actually finding a way to land on net.

This actually felt like your classic 'box score' game, which had been a staple of Claude Julien's Bruins squads in the final few years of his run, but an undeniable rarity under Bruce Cassidy. Blake Coleman's empty-net goal made this a three-goal victory for the Devs, which would lead you to believe that the two-goal game it almost ended as told the story of a close game that saw the Bruins just plain stymied by a hot goaltender (NHL rookie MacKenzie Blackwood, in this case). Nope and nope.

"I think subconsciously we know we’re probably not scoring as much as we’d like, probably not as much as we deserve," Cassidy offered after the loss, later citing posts from Jake DeBrusk and others in defense of the defeat. "Probably actually tonight we generated enough to get more than a goal. Probably deserved a better fate offensively, but that’s not happening right now. So, when that starts to happen guys feel good about themselves, know they’re still in the game."

The Bruins hit a few posts and felt that they deserved a better fate, sure, that's an undeniable fact. But their pressure on a team that entered play in the basement of the Eastern Conference -- and goalie with 107 minutes of NHL experience entering action -- was virtually nonexistent.

Something the B's didn't dodge when their quiet locker room opened up for pressing.

"I think anytime that you go down two or you lose a lead or they score the first goal, I think that New Jersey is a really stingy team in that respect, I think that they kind of a play a fast chip and chase kind of game and once they get two goals, it’s kind of hard to generate some offense," DeBrusk said. "I thought that we did towards the end, end of the second period as well, but I think our starts to our periods were not urgent enough and that includes myself."
"We hit a lot of posts but that’s hockey," Bruins defender John Moore said after the loss. "Sometimes those bounces go in, sometimes they don’t. I also think you work for your luck in this league, a lot of times we were an easy out."

Bingo.

Too often were the Bruins stuck in the mud of their defensive zone, stalled in the neutral zone, and then making a quick exit after what felt like a laborious haul into the attacking zone. And when the goals didn't come, Cassidy's efforts to kickstart his group saw Danton Heinen demoted to the fourth line and Joakim Nordstrom bumped up to the second line. It worked to a point, as Heinen picked up the secondary helper on a Chris Wagner goal, but it didn't impact the B's top six at all, really.

It was a boatload of work for almost no tangible reward. And for the second game in a row, too, as the Bruins have now struck for just five goals on their last 72 shots over the last two games (both losses).

"When you’re not scoring you know you get behind a few you all of sudden – doubt creeps into your mind and we have to erase that," said Cassidy. "It’s our job as coaches to make sure the guys feel good about their game and know they can come back, but until we do it a few times it’s probably going to be a struggle until we get over that first hump."

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. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.