When Bruins coach Claude Julien scripted his game plan for Tuesday night’s showdown against Philadelphia, he did not plan on putting his postseason goaltender into action. He also had no intentions of busting up his most consistent line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Tyler Seguin. Julien wanted to give his power-play units some reps, not rearrange his personnel.
But after his team allowed two goals in a seven-second span, Julien’s only choice was to grab his team by the collar.
Tuukka Rask, who could have benefited from a night off, was in goal. Seguin was off Bergeron’s line. Milan Lucic and Gregory Campbell, usually man-advantage spectators, rolled over the boards for power-play work in place of Marchand and Seguin. The Bruins continued to doze and left Philadelphia with a 5-2 millstone around their necks.
Tuesday’s game was supposed to be an opportunity for the Bruins to check off some things on the action plan they had sketched up for the week.
Rask could have had a 60-minute breather. With Montreal losing to New Jersey, the Bruins could have claimed a 2-point advantage over the Canadiens with a win. They could have properly evaluated Wade Redden and Carl Soderberg, two bubble players clawing for a playoff roster spot. They could have added to their confidence by playing well against a Philadelphia club featuring NHL unknowns such as Brandon Manning and Oliver Lauridsen.
But now they’re left doubting themselves as they close out the regular season with three games in four nights (Tampa Bay on Thursday, Washington on Saturday, Ottawa on Sunday).
“We were making some strides forward,” said defenseman Zdeno Chara, who fought the puck against the Flyers. “Obviously we took a few steps back again.”
The Bruins’ first step will be to repair the damage from Philadelphia. No team wants to enter the playoffs with bad habits stuck in their sticks and heads. Starting against the Lightning, the primary tasks will be to manage the puck, establish the forecheck, and play more efficiently in center ice — all things they failed to execute Tuesday.
The Bruins repeatedly handed the puck over to the Flyers. They didn’t cover the Flyers when they entered the Boston zone with speed. They ceded the neutral zone.
The Flyers may be young on the back end, but they have varsity talent up front in Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek, and Matt Read.
“They’ve got a good offense,” said Julien. “You’ve got to give them credit for that. We talked about it before the game. We had to make sure we took care of their offense.
“If we defended well and if we could spend some time in their own end, we thought they were a little inexperienced back there. If we managed the puck and were strong on it, we had a good chance.
“But their D’s played hard and were more determined than the rest of our team was.”
Bruins seek answers as playoffs approach
Boston Globe | Apr 25