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Saturday, October 11, 2014

We're Still Waiting for the Real Bruins to Show Up This Season

In three games so far this season, the Bruins have scored a grand total of three goals (for non-math majors, that's one per game). We can complain about new lines or other aspects of the team but with that simple stat, it's surprising that Boston (1-2-0) has already won a game. Tonight, they flatlined with a 4-0 no-show against the Capitals (1-0-1) at TD Garden. What made it so disappointing was that they kind of did the same thing, with less gross results, in Thursday's 2-1 loss at Detroit.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burkovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had two assists and Braden Holtby recorded his 12th career shutout with 29 mostly soft serve saves. It was the first time that Holtby had ever blanked the B's. Ironically, the last time that Boston had been shut out in regular season was basically a year ago (Oct. 10, 2013) vs. Colorado (2-0) which was also the third game of the season.

The disturbing part about this slow start is that the Bruins haven't exactly played the iron of the NHL: Philadelphia, Detroit and Washington are all teams that figure to be battling for some of the last playoff spots in the weak Eastern Conference right down to the wire.

Bobby Robins got into his second fight of the season (both at home) but this one wasn't particularly smart since it was preceded by a kneeing penalty. Ovechkin cashed that in with a patented one-timer from the faceoff dot at 11:26 of the first period on assists from John Carlson and Backstrom. If that wasn't easy enough, Ovi doubled Washington's lead at 18:39 after a simple cycle down low by Backstrom and Karl Alzner left him wide open as he went to the net.

You hate to write them off too soon but with the way they've struggled to put the puck in the net, or even create dangerous chances, it felt like it was over when Mike Green netted Washington's second power play tally at 10:34 of the second period. He was assisted by Kuznetsov and Backstrom on another one-timer that beat Tuukka Rask (17 saves).

Playing with Ryan Spooner and Mark Fraser, Milan Lucic has been a ghost so you know that he's frustrated. Green hit him from behind so Lucic took exception to it and was called for cross checking and a 10-minute misconduct. He might as well have gone after him harder and gotten some more frustration out because that was pointless.

Carlson added the final goal in garbage time, one last one-timer that Rask said was deflected, at 18:46 from Burakovsky and Kuznetsov. Woof. The Bruins were rightfully booed off the ice by the few remaining fans after the game ended.

There is only one way to go from here: up. The B's will try to find their game on Monday afternoon (1, NESN) in their customary Columbus Day matinee-this time against former Bruins great Jarome Iginla and Colorado (0-1-0). Since Rask has started all three games thus far and played every minute, I would expect his backup Niklas Svedberg to make his 2014-15 Bruins debut. Rask isn't the issue by any means but head coach Claude Julien has to be prudent about giving him a break when he can, especially in this busy stretch to start the year (four games in six days).

Boston hadn't lost two straight in regulation since January 7 & January 9 last season. The last time that they dropped three straight in regulation was March 10-15, 2012. Eventually, David Krejci and Gregory Campbell will return (but Johnny Boychuk won't) and the Bruins are bound to start looking like themselves again, right? Even if they don't have those guys on Monday, there is no reason that they can't put these three forgettable contests behind them as they try to play like the team that many picked to win the Eastern Conference.

UPDATE 10/12: The B's made a minor move this morning: sending Craig Cunningham down to Providence and recalling Seth Griffith. This new fourth line changes everything!

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