Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Mar 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Brandon Bussi (70) skates against New York Rangers during the third period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery kept it short and not-so-sweet following Thursday’s setback against the Rangers.

“They checked really well, [and] I don’t think we checked well enough,” Montgomery said following his club’s defeat, which saw them surrender three straight unanswered goals. “I don’t think we competed hard enough on pucks.”

When asked if that lack of jump surprised him given the stakes of this game with the B’s squaring off against one of East’s premier clubs, Montgomery remained rather curt, noting that it was both “surprising and disappointing.”

Montgomery also dispelled any notions of the Bruins being tired. He said the Bruins shouldn’t be tired. Montgomery even went as far to say that this really wasn’t much of anything that the Rangers did, but what his team was unwilling to do.

“I don’t think it’s a reflection of [New York’s] defense,” Montgomery said when discussing his team’s inability to generate much against the Rangers and goaltender Jonathan Quick. “[We] should be able to gain middle ice a lot. We just weren’t attacking it.”

  • Most nights, this is where Montgomery hangs his hat on the fact that the Bruins have built a cushion and that nights like this will happen over the course of an 82-game season. Had he said any of that, it wouldn’t have been the first time. Not this year, or even in the last 30 days for that matter. But this felt… worse.

    Almost everything the Bruins did wrong in this game was a result of their own doing.

    On New York’s first goal, Danton Heinen whiffs on a puck and unintentionally sends a drop back pass to the slot for Artemi Panarin’s squeaker through Jeremy Swayman. And on the Rangers’ second goal of the evening, Kevin Shattenkirk feeds a woeful pass to Hampus Lindholm, where Alex Wennberg pressures him from behind into a turnover behind the Boston net, while Jake DeBrusk comes through with the coup de grace of a sliding block that bounces off him and into the Boston net.

    And even on the Adam Fox goal that made it 3-2 for the Blueshirts a mere 40 seconds after the Bruins had tied things up at 2-2, it was a broken play that had the B’s scrambling while Swayman was probably cheating a bit too much expecting a potential pass.

    “They did a real good job checking and we didn’t do a good job getting through their layers and fighting through it,” said Montgomery.

    Here are some other thoughts, takeaways, and notes from a loss to the Rangers…

  • At least there’s some good news for B’s

    Mar 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing Justin Brazeau (55) skates against New York Rangers defenseman Braden Schneider (4) during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing Justin Brazeau (55) skates against New York Rangers defenseman Braden Schneider (4) during the first period at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

    If you’d like a positive from this one, it’s with the continued success of bottom-six winger Justin Brazeau, who factored in on both of the B’s goals in this one, with a secondary helper on Jake DeBrusk’s first-period power-play goal and a net-front finish on the Black and Gold’s third-period strike that knotted things up at 2-2.

    Overall, it was the 6-foot-5 Brazeau’s third goal and fourth point in his last two outings, and brings him up to four goals and six points through 14 NHL games since his sign-and-recall from Providence in January.

    When it comes to Brazeau, you simply have to appreciate the way he tends to emerge from battles and scrums with the puck on his stick, and how he’s found a way to successfully use his frame to win battles to extend possession time in the attacking zone. This has been especially noticeable on the B’s second power-play unit, which has been undeniably better than the top unit of late, and with big No. 55 playing a massive role in that success.

  • Boston’s run vs. playoff teams comes to end

    Mar 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) checks New York Rangers defenseman Zac Jones (6) into the boards during the third period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) checks New York Rangers defenseman Zac Jones (6) into the boards during the third period at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

    Going back to Montgomery’s disappointment with Thursday’s effort, the ‘surprising’ part of that may have surprised you, but it shouldn’t have. When the Bruins have struggled this season, it’s often been against non-playoff teams.

    And Thursday’s loss by all means confirmed that, as it ended what was a 12-game point streak (8-0-4) against teams currently inside the playoff structure for the Bruins, with Boston’s last regulation loss against a playoff team before last night coming with a Jan. 24 setback against the Hurricanes.

    This is why it’s become just so difficult to forecast what the Bruins can or will do in the postseason. Thursday was a deviation from what’s been the norm of this club getting up for big games.

  • Everything else

    Mar 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) takes a water break during a commercial break in the first period of a game against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) takes a water break during a commercial break in the first period of a game against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

    – A 26-of-29 performance in goal from the Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman dropped Swayman’s post-All-Star break record down to 6-5-1, while his save percentage dipped to .902. The Bruins absolutely did not help their goaltender in this one (on at least two of the three goals, anyway), and perhaps that’s why Montgomery did not have an issue with Swayman’s play postgame, noting that he was fine with Swayman’s performance in the losing effort.

    – The fact that Swayman is trending down while Linus Ullmark is surging is also an example of what’s separating the Bruins from a team like the Rangers right now. Since the All-Star break, the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin has been the best goalies in hockey, with 10 wins and a .938 save percentage in 14 games. Jonathan Quick, meanwhile, has been more than solid behind him, with five wins and a .910 save percentage in six outings. I don’t think Quick was dramatically better than Swayman in this game (he didn’t have to be), but when you can rely on either goaltender without a worry in the world, it does a whole lot for your team and their ability to simply play their game. Right now, it just feels like the Bruins don’t have that with Swayman, which is dangerous when the team in front of him is treating the puck like a grenade.

    – Make that five goals and 11 points in the last nine games for Jake DeBrusk.

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