There’s a lot to blame to go around for a brutal, season-ending Game 6 loss on Long Island.
But one man Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t going to throw under the bus was netminder Tuukka Rask.
“Well, listen, it wasn’t good enough to win, but neither were we, so this isn’t on Tuukka,” Cassidy said when asked about Rask’s performance. “This is a team loss to me all the way down the line.”
It was a night where anything that could go wrong did for everyone in Boston colors.
After he was lifted from Game 5 after surrendering four goals on just 16 shots, Rask rebounded to the tune of four goals on 27 shots. He also had a brutal puck-playing gaffe to make it a 3-1 game for the Islanders when he threw a puck to absolutely no one and scattered helplessly as Brock Nelson potted his second of the evening.
But the undermanned Bruins also helped crush their netminder with some downright inexcusable turnovers, and failed to correct the defensive mistakes that plagued them in Game 4, and for a large chunk of this series.
They also failed to provide much of anything when it came to their five-on-five offense. In fact, both of Boston’s goals came on the man advantage (and off the stick of Brad Marchand) while the B’s were held to just 21 shots at five-on-five, including an unfathomably low three five-on-five shots in a desperation third period.
This was a bit of the Bruins’ old habits dying hard, too, as the Bruins shot under six percent at five-on-five in this series, a mere one percentage point higher than they did in their second-round bubble series with the Lightning in 2020.
“Certainly could have used some more scoring out of certain people in this series,” Cassidy remarked. “You can do the math on that. I thought our power play was good, gave us some opportunities, the top line generated well. But some of the other people needed to score more if we’re going to allow that many goals. So that’s a bit of the formula: Keep it out of your net [and] win 2-1, but if you’re going to give up three or four goals, then you better be scoring five. And we weren’t able to do that.”
It was quite simply a night where nobody could deliver that lift, be it in net or in the attacking zone, against the Isles.
“Of course [Rask] could have been better, and there were some rebounds that we could have, as a whole, cleared or controlled better,” Cassidy acknowledged. “We could have started there, but we mismanaged some pucks and put ’em in bad spots as well.
“You lose [Kevan] Miller and [Brandon] Carlo, guys that play minutes for you, and other D come in. Other people in the lineup have to pick them up. They have to do their job, whether it’s the forward scoring more goals or the goalie keeping the puck out of the net better or we defend better. And it’s a mix of all those things.”
And it the worst kind of mix — and at the worst possible time — for Cassidy’s squad.
Bruins Postgame Podcast: What Went Wrong?
Well, that sucked. The Bruins’ season is over after losing 6-2 to the New York Islanders in Game 6, and Matt Dolloff and Ty Anderson of 98.5 The Sports Hub are here to break it all down in their final Bruins postgame podcast of 2020-21.
Among the topics discussed: a near-total no-show for the Bruins, outside of a pair of goals by Brad Marchand; Boston’s continued lack of size and depth on defense killing them in the end; a lack of finish and reliability in the forward group; Tuukka Rask’s bad performance and whether it’s the final game of his career; and the kinds of changes that the Bruins need to make on the roster in what will be a huge offseason.
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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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.