Boston Bruins

Mar 7, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) handles the puck while Los Angeles Kings right wing Carl Grundstrom (91) defends during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

In a span of about six seconds late Monday night, Los Angeles forward Andreas Athanasiou helped turned the Bruins’ two best players to that point, center Charlie Coyle and goaltender Linus Ullmark, into the goats of the evening.

“He beat me fair and square,” Ullmark, who has taken a loss in four of his last five outings, said of the overtime dagger. “And sometimes you gotta tip your hat and give the guy credit for beating you clean. It came at an unfortunate time, obviously, because it’s overtime and there’s no way we can get it back now.”

Unfortunate is selling it short. Just moments before Coyle opened all of I-93 up to Athanasiou, Ullmark came through with a dazzling glove save on an Anze Kopitar chance from a high-danger area, and his regulation featured 24 saves in total, including a sweet glove stop on Adrian Kempe in the middle frame, and what felt like an atonement for a first-period squeaker. And when the Kings tied it up, it was tough to fault Ullmark, as the initial shot was blocked down by Charlie McAvoy and put right on a platter for Trevor Moore for the game-tying marker.

“[Ullmark] got much better as the game went along,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Came out and made the stops. Good stops, athletic stops. All in all, it was a good outing for him, and he made some key saves when we needed them.”

All of that failed to matter much by the night’s end, however, and the goal given up to Athanasiou wasn’t exactly Ullmark’s best work. But it also shouldn’t have come down to that moment.

“You gotta value the puck,” Cassidy said of Coyle’s backhand to no man’s land. “The play at the end is just not a good hockey play, let’s face it. We got what we deserved on that play, that’s for sure.”

It was all that was needed to turn a fantastic performance from Coyle into a forgettable night.

Slotted between Trent Frederic and Craig Smith as the center on a line that’s only getting better, both of Boston’s goals in the losing effort came from sweet feeds from Coyle.

On Boston’s first goal, scored by Trent Frederic for his fourth goal of the year, Coyle displayed some tremendous vision and awareness when he decided to dish it to Frederic versus taking what would’ve been a low-percentage look with every single King in Coyle’s way throwing themselves to the left. And on the second goal, scored by Craig Smith, Coyle simply outworked and outmuscled Kopitar, one of the best two-way forwards in hockey, for possession and the setup to Smith.

Nobody’s going to tell you that Coyle didn’t royally fudge it up when it came to the overtime. Or that the 6-foot-4 Ullmark stole the show when he made himself smaller on the Athanasiou breakaway. But the sour ending shouldn’t take away from the much more important — at least if we take a look at the big picture — strides they made prior to the game-ending gaffes.

“Some unlucky bounces, and that’s what it comes down to in this league sometimes,” Ullmark offered. “That’s it.”

Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 3-2 loss to the Kings

  • Mar 7, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) skates with the puck while Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) defends during the second period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    A rare off night at the dot for Patrice Bergeron

    Hey, need another sign that it just wasn’t the B’s night? Monday featured what was one of Patrice Bergeron’s worst nights at the faceoff dot this season. The league’s top faceoff threat this year, Bergeron finished Monday’s loss with wins in just 10 of his 24 battles at the dot, ‘good’ for a 42 winning percentage at the circle.

    That was Bergeron’s second-worst figure of the year, trailing only a 33.3 percent success rate in a Nov. 14 meeting with the Canadiens. It was an especially difficult faceoff night in the attacking zone for No. 37, as he lost eight of his 13 offensive-zone faceoffs, with his 38.5 percent success rate on that front tied for his lowest single-game percentage of the season. The Kings went with a power-on-power approach with Bergeron at the dot, with Bergeron squared off against the Kings’ Anze Kopitar in 18 of his 24 faceoffs, and Kopitar emerged victorious in 11 of those 18 drops.

    But Bergeron’s most devastating loss at the dot came against Phillip Danault and with 31 seconds left in regulation, as Danault won the faceoff, and the Kings tied the game five seconds later on Trevor Moore’s net-front putaway.

  • Mar 7, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Carl Grundstrom (91) and Boston Bruins defenseman Jack Ahcan (54) battle for the puck in front of goaltender Linus Ullmark (35). (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    Ullmark gives glimpse into mindset with Jeremy Swayman surging

    It’s been over a month and counting since Linus Ullmark last made consecutive starts for the Bruins.

    Now, the elevated, white-hot play of Jeremy Swayman has a ton to do with that. Since his first start since returning from Providence, Swayman has posted a ridiculous 7-1-1 record and even more ridiculous .946 save percentage. (Only the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin, who will absolutely win the Vezina this year and perhaps even the Hart Trophy, has been better since then, with a .957 save percentage for the Rangers.) It was enough to earn the 23-year-old Swayman rookie of the month honors for February, and completely shift the goaltending discussion in Boston when it comes to the team’s projected No. 1.

    But Ullmark, who noted that he’s ‘super happy’ for Swayman, isn’t letting it stress him out of rhythm.

    “For me myself, nothing changes,” Ullmark said. “I still come to work every day with a smile on my face. And try to improve myself and improve the guys as well, try to push them to be better, and they push me to be a better version [of myself] and a better goaltender. And I’m going to do that tomorrow as well. And I’m going to keep doing that for all of my career.”

  • Mar 1, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) looks on during the second period against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. (Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports)

    Bruins don’t think Grzelcyk injury is anything major

    The Bruins were forced to play this contest without defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, who began the day as a game-time decision with an upper-body injury but ultimately didn’t even make it onto the ice for the pregame warm-up.

    So, what’s the word on No. 48?

    “I’ll give you a better idea Wednesday [as for] how it’ll look for Thursday,” Cassidy, who will give his team Tuesday off after playing seven games in 12 days, said of Grzelcyk’s status. “But right now, I don’t think it’s long term or anything too serious.”

    With Grzelcyk out, the Bruins turned to Jack Ahcan as Brandon Carlo’s left-side partner on the second pairing. Deployed for 14:17 of time on ice, Ahcan finished with one shot, one hit, one blocked shot, and two giveaways, and struggled to find his footing out of the gate and on top of some rough Garden ice, according to Cassidy.

    “Didn’t move his feet early on [and] got himself in trouble against a good forechecking team,” Cassidy said about Ahcan’s fill-in performance. “Once he got into the game and the rhythm of it, he was better. He’s a puck handler, and with ice like tonight, it wasn’t going to be his best friend when your’e trying to make tight-area plays. It’s probably a night for more direct play.

    “His ability to transition is one of his assets, and he was a little too static.”