Bruins fall under weight of Avalanche for 12th straight time at the Garden
What was the only thing more predictable than the Bruins laying an egg at home against the Colorado Avalanche? Maybe it was their youth-infused lineup receiving a comeuppance sooner rather than later.
That’s what happened yesterday at the Garden, as the Avalanche, unbeaten on Causeway Street in 12 visits, capitalized on mistakes to beat the B’s, 4-0.
Colorado owns a 11-0-1 record at the Garden since March 30, 1998. The teams will meet again tomorrow night in Denver.
While the kids did have a rough day — forwards Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk were both minus-3 and defenseman Charlie McAvoy was minus-2 — it was an across-the-board failure that was impervious to coach Bruce Cassidy’s line tinkering. Goalie Tuukka Rask did not look sharp on a couple of goals and nothing could ignite the B’s power play, which went 0-for-4 for the matinee.
The Bruins now head out on their first road trip — Colorado, Arizona, Vegas — at 1-1.
Cassidy didn’t single out anybody after the game, aside from himself, but he didn’t hand out attaboys, either.
“I don’t think we were good in any area early,” Cassidy said. “It just wasn’t a good effort, from young, old and in between. I put myself in that category. We’re supposed to be ready to play at home, especially after a couple days off. That was the biggest disappointment to me. Things aren’t going to go your way some nights when you fight the puck, and it looked like it was going to be one of those nights. But to not have the energy and sustain to get yourself back in the game is disappointing.”
The B’s were in chase mode from the get-go, thanks to a goal allowed by Rask that would be emblematic of the game. Mikko Rantenen tracked down a Nikita Zadorov dump-in and from the right corner fed an open Sven Andrighetto in the high slot. Andrighetto’s shot came from a dangerous area, to be sure, but it looked like Rask would glove the bid easily. Instead, the puck bounced off his mitt and floated over the line just 4:41 into the game.
Things wouldn’t get any better the rest of the day.
The Avalanche are no one’s preseason favorites for anything, and they came in looking particularly vulnerable on the penalty kill, having allowed five power-play goals in their first two games. Such an opportunity presented itself to the B’s midway through the first period when Zadorov was called for slashing at 11:23.
With Patrice Bergeron still out with a lower-body injury, Cassidy and the coaching staff had reconfigured the power play over the weekend in an attempt to get their best players on the ice at the same time, putting David Krejci in Bergeron’s bumper spot on the first unit. That left a second unit of the three aforementioned rookies skating with Frank Vatrano and Matt Beleskey, and it got burned for a shorthanded goal.
Carl Soderberg won a puck along the left boards cluttered with Bruins and broke out on a 2-on-1. He dished to J.T. Compher, who sniped a shot over Rask’s shoulder to make it 2-0 at 13:22.
As he usually does, Cassidy scrambled his lines for the second period, moving David Krejci (minus-2) up to play with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak and it almost worked immediately. On their first shift together, Pastrnak made a strong rush to the net, cut to his forehand and nearly scored, but Semyon Varlamov (29 saves) made a great pad save on the line, something that was held up by video review.
After that, the line changes didn’t provide much of a spark at all. Cassidy said he’ll continue to tinker.
“That’s the way we’re going to do things around here until we see what we like,” Cassidy said. “We liked what we saw against Nashville after a short period of time. We seemed to get everyone in their best fit. And tonight I never found the best combination. I think it goes on both the players — it’s their job to play whatever position they’re in — and it’s up to the coach to find the chemistry. And I couldn’t find it (yesterday), so shame on me.”
Then in the third period, Rask tried to thwart a developing breakaway attempt for Nail Yakupov when he came far out of his net to play a puck along the left boards, but Yakupov beat him to it and scored into the wide-open net. Yakupov then finished off the scoring with an empty-netter.
Now, as the B’s head out on the road, we’ll not only see how this team plays away from home, but also how they respond to a stinker.