This has not been the most auspicious start to the season for the Boston Bruins, has it?
The question may be rhetorical, but the answer is obvious.
The struggling Bruins have opened up the 2015-16 campaign to somewhat high expectations, considering the three-game homestand to begin the year and the changes to the roster that will resonate both on and off the ice. With that being said, the B’s first three opponents were all playoff teams from last season. To a man, the players knew this was going to be a daunting task.
The team dropped the opening night matchup in embarrassing fashion to the Winnipeg Jets. Although Boston got on the board first in the opening period, the B’s eventually fell by a final score of 6-2. Ugly.
Up next for the B’s were the Montreal Canadiens, a team that has owned the Black and Gold over the last few seasons. After the Bruins endured a controversial disallowed goal and a game misconduct from a boarding penalty on Ryan Spooner, they dropped this one to the Habs by a final score of 4-2.
Things went from disappointing to woeful on Monday afternoon when the Bruins fell by a final score of 6-3 to the defending Eastern Conference champs, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boston did net three power-play goals, which makes that four-straight tallies with the man advantage. Unfortunately, that was the only bright spot for Boston on that day.
They are now 0-3-0 to begin the year, the first time since the 1999-2000 season and the eighth time in franchise history. Also, the Bruins have allowed 16 goals in the first three games, the most they have allowed in the opening three games in 50 years.
The Bruins suffered a blow on Saturday night against Montreal when Brad Marchand took an inadvertent elbow to the head. He suffered a concussion as a result and there is no timetable for his return. He has yet to record a point this season.
There have been some bright spots that could provide a glimmer of hope for the fans. The top line of Matt Beleskey, David Krejci, and David Pastrnak has looked great from an offensive standpoint, combining for 10 points in three games. Also, Chris Kelly and Zac Rinaldo are providing a workhorse-like mentality on the fourth line, playing physical and finishing their checks.
Of course, the big issue with this team thus far has been the defense. Matt Irwin was a minus-five rating during the first two games of the season and was very careless with the puck. He has since been placed on waivers by the team. Also, Joe Morrow has been caught up ice countless times and has not been tight behind the blue line. At this point, it is hard to pinpoint just exactly what the coaching staff will do with the lineup going forward. Trial and error may be the best option, but they cannot allow themselves to fall too far behind.
Colin Miller got to see some action in games against the Canadiens and the Lightning. With him having the least amount of NHL experience of any player on the roster, it is important that the team sticks with him for the long haul. He will indeed be the most productive offensive defenseman in the organization. It must be killing the B’s when it comes to the current situation on the blue line, especially watching Dougie Hamilton net his first goal as a member of the Calgary Flames over the weekend.
The Bruins were without Zdeno Chara for the first two games of the homestand due to an upper-body injury that he sustained in the preseason. He did, however, make his season debut against the Lightning on Monday. The defensive woes should absolutely not be fully attributed to his absence. The mistakes made in the back end have been inexcusable.
With the defense being so shaky, Tuukka Rask needed to come through with some key stops and perhaps steal a victory for his team. Rask has allowed 14 goals with a .846 save percentage and a 4.72 goals against average in first three games. Sure, some of the goals he would have loved to have back, but there were a handful where they were not solely on him.
The Bruins will be on the road this week for a brief two-game stint in the Midwest. They will take on the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, followed by a game with the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. You would like to think that goaltender Jonas Gustavsson will see action in one of those above-mentioned games.
The ample time off in between games should benefit Boston, as that will present a chance to get some extra practice time in and clean up any mistakes. Things are not going to get any easier, so getting back on the right track will be crucial.