I wish I could muster the rage to truly get worked up about Thursday’s loss in Carolina. But as always, context reigns supreme around these parts. And I can’t ignore what the Bruins were up against Thursday.
In case the B’s latest setback did not confirm it for you, allow me: This Hurricanes team is better than the one the Bruins faced in the 2019 postseason and again in 2020. Their top players are older (in the good way!) and wiser, they’ve fully grasped the idea of the nastiness needed to beat veteran teams, and you could argue that their goaltending situation is the best it’s ever been under Rod Brind’Amour, with Freddie Andersen looking more like Anaheim Andersen than Toronto Andersen.
The Bruins, meanwhile, were coming off a close-but-not-enough loss in Florida less than 24 hours taking the ice at PNC Arena. They’re also missing their two middle-six wingers, outright admitting that they are experimenting on their second line with Jack Studnicka, and their defense both next to and behind Charlie McAvoy remains a complete question mark through the opening weeks of the season.
Oh, and this is Game 6 of 82.
We’ll have plenty of time to get worked up about the Bruins, but if we do it at the 7.3 percent mark of the season, our brains will simply explode and right before Halloween. And I, for one, am not missing out on those Reese’s pumpkins.
The manner in which the Bruins lost certainly helped me live another day in the name of chocolate peanut butter pumpkins, too, and it should do the same for you.
Ask yourself, were the Bruins outworked in this game? At times, maybe. But this felt like a punch-for-punch contest for the most part. I can’t recall a scenario where you had your second period in Sunrise moment where you went, “Wow, they can’t hang with this team.” The closest brush with that came with an always-aggressive Carolina penalty kill doing always-aggressive things.
And were the Bruins guilty of lazy, sloppy plays that ended up in the back of their net? Unless you consider the friendly fire goals off Brandon Carlo’s body and off Derek Forbort’s skate as lazy and/or sloppy, no, not really.
“When you look back on these games, you like your compete, your physicality,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I think we kept coming against a good, rested team. A little different luck around the net and I think it’s a different outcome.”
You can say that again.
As noted, Andersen was a brick wall. He turned aside all 33 shots faced. The defense in front of him was excellent when they needed to be, too, with some big blocks and closeouts. It doesn’t make the fact that the only Bruins goal scored in the last 120 minutes has come off the Panthers’ Owen Tippett any easier to swallow, but there are nights where you simply tip your cap and say that the other team (or goalie alone) was on their game. It’s just that you’ve seen that for 105 minutes straight.
But that luck should and will turn at some point.
Knowing that, the focus shifts to the ability to hang, and the Bruins did that.
“I loved our compete today,” Cassidy said. “We were ready to play. We were in for a good solid hockey game, and we got one, but I don’t think we shied away from any of that. We just didn’t finish well.”
Which, against the 2021 Panthers and Hurricanes and in a span of 27 hours, is not worth losing your head over.
Not yet, anyway.
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 3-0 loss in Raleigh…
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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.