Tuukka Rask was pulled after two periods on Monday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports_

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was pulled after two periods after he allowed three goals on 15 shots Monday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Little made sense in a 4-0 loss to the cellar-dwelling Islanders Monday. One call that did make sense for the Bruins, however, was head coach Claude Julien’s decision to pull Tuukka Rask after the second period.

Rask, like most Bruins, did not have his best game.

And though it wasn’t entirely his fault (perhaps with the exception of the second Islander goal, which was scored off a bad angle shot from Josh Bailey that Rask should have sealed off), Rask didn’t help the Black and Gold with just 12 stops in total before given the hook.

“You’ve got to do something, right? I let in that weak one, the second goal,” Rask said of his early exit. “But the coaches always have to do whatever they can to get the team going and that’s it.”

Of course, the 29-year-old’s worst stretch was also the team’s worst stretch, as the B’s blew assignment after assignment while Rask allowed three goals on six shots in a 5:20 stretch late in the second period. But it wasn’t the only reason that he was replaced by Zane McIntyre for the third period of what became a clear throwaway game.

“Well there’s two things that can happen,” Julien said, “number one, you hope you can spark your team, because of the performance in front of him, and if it doesn’t spark your team, you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

The former didn’t happen for Julien and the Bruins, but the latter could prove invaluable.

If you look at where the league is trending or trended over the last few seasons, the Bruins will likely need at least 95 points to qualify for postseason play. They’re at 51 points through 47 games played, and the simple math tells you that they’re in need of about 44 points over the final 35 games to make the postseason. More simple math tells you that’s about 22 wins. And with the way that the Black and Gold have played this year with backups in net — the Bruins have just one victory in 11 games started by a trio of backups this season — you can expect Rask to have be in net for almost all 22 of those wins.

But it won’t matter who’s in net for the Bruins if the team continues to no-show against bottom of the barrel teams.

“You need to bring that emotion and work ethic every night. Doesn’t matter if it’s road or home. On the road we seem to do that every night,” Rask said of the team’s hot-and-cold nature and struggles at TD Garden. “At home for some reason, we play a good game, an emotional game and then we lack it in the next one and the results are what they were tonight.

“It’s like a broken record; we have to fix it. Or otherwise it won’t be good.”

That would mean a third straight burnout by both the goaltender and team and without a playoff berth to show for their exhausting efforts.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
David Backes knows the Bruins need to be ready for opponents no matter their record. (James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

David Backes knows the Bruins need to be ready for opponents no matter their record. (James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

Bruins forward David Backes plays video games. And from the sounds of his postgame comments after the B’s 4-0 embarrassment at the hands of the Isles, he’s even dabbled in franchise modes along the way.

“I don’t know if we wanted to hit simulate on the old video game today because we figured we had more points than them,” Backes said after the loss, “but the result is certainly not what we’re looking for when we just established ourselves back to .500 at home.”

In what was a disastrous afternoon that really fell apart for the Bruins when they collapsed for three goals against in less than six minutes at the end of the second period, Backes lamented the dreadful effort, and the B’s inability to keep themselves in a game that should have been an easy victory given the Isles’ struggles both on the road and in general.

“It’s just not good enough,” Backes said when asked what head coach Claude Julien’s message was after their 11th loss in 21 home games. “There’s no excuse-making going on. It’s just not good enough from top to bottom, left to right.

“We’re not going to win many games playing like that.”

With the loss, the Bruins dropped to 7-11-4 in 22 games that have followed a victory.

“If we want to play the way we did against St. Louis or Philly in here, then we’re going to win a lot of games,” Backes said. “We just can’t be Jekyll and Hyde and black and white on different days, because that’s as frustrating as it gets. We’ve shown we can do it. It’s imperative we do it every game or we start seeing ourselves fall in the standings and that’s certainly not acceptable as well.”

But now I can’t help but wonder which games Backes has simulated in his franchise modes.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Thomas Greiss made 32 saves for the Isles' first ever shutout against the Bruins. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss made 32 saves for the Isles’ first ever shutout against the Bruins. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

It’s not often you see an Islanders goaltender come to Boston and hold the Bruins to zero in a winning effort.

Actually, strike that — it’s never been done, though Rick DiPietro came close in a 0-0 tie back in Feb. 2004. That was until today, of course (and naturally given the way this season has gone), as Isles netminder Thomas Greiss stopped everything thrown his way en route to the franchise’s first ever road shutout victory over the Bruins.

Hit with seven shots in a sluggish first period, 14 in the middle frame, and then 11 in a third period in which the Bruins by all means conceded the idea of even making a game of it, Greiss rolled with a relatively easy night in the crease, as it was hard to find many quality looks from the B’s offense despite the 32-to-27 shot advantage by the day’s end.

“We had a few good shifts there, we sustained a little bit of pressure in there, but then we just couldn’t keep that for the next lines after going,” Patrice Bergeron said. “We couldn’t sustain that or build from that, so it was really a whole team throughout the lineup that didn’t show up and it’s obviously unacceptable.”

The shutout also continued personal success against the B’s for Greiss, who made a career-high 48 saves in his last head-to-head with the Bruins, a 4-2 win on Dec. 20, and gives him saves on all but two of 82 Bruins shots against (.976 save percentage).

“It’s been treating me pretty well, fun games,” Greiss said of his success in Boston this season. “But, you know, they are a good team. You’ve always got to respect them. They always come at you pretty hard.”

Overall, it was the Isles’ fourth lifetime shutout against the Bruins.

With the Isles finally on the board with a road shutout win over the Bruins, only the Coyotes, Blue Jackets, Predators, and Thrashers-turned-Jets remain as franchises without a road shutout over the Bruins.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
The Bruins dropped to 10-11-0 at home today. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Claude Julien’s Bruins dropped to 10-11-0 at home this season thanks to today’s ugly 4-0 loss to the Islanders. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The 315th straight sellout crowd at TD Garden had absolutely nothing to cheer about in a 4-0 drubbing of the hometown Bruins courtesy of the East-worst Islanders. So they instead tuned their throats to a different sing-song of vocal expression, as the Black and Gold were viciously booed off the ice before the final horn sounded.

“We were flat tonight, obviously,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of the team’s woeful effort. “Flat from the get-go.”

Blaming a result on coming out ‘flat’ is something that’s been said entirely too often in regards to the Bruins this year, especially on home ice. And that actually goes beyond just this season, too. After a 2015-16 season in which the Bruins won just 17 games at home (only the Sabres and tanking Maple Leafs won fewer games among Eastern Conference clubs), the Bruins have struggled with just 10 wins in 21 home games.

“It’s disappointing,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of their Garden struggles. “We should have a better home record.”

In total, the Bruins have wins in just 27 of their last 62 home games. It’s the fourth-fewest home wins in the NHL over that stretch and does not fit the mold of a team that is expected to contend come spring. It’s the record of a time on the complete other end of the spectrum if you look, as only the Sabres, Leafs, and Avalanche have won fewer home games over that span, and two out of three of those teams are and have been lottery teams (and the Leafs are just now leaving that realm).

“I can criticize [the players] internally because that’s part of my job, but at the same time I think we owe it to our fans to be better than we were,” Julien said of the loss. “Whether there’s fatigue in our team or not, I don’t know, but you think your team is ready to go, I think that we were ready to go, but we were flat. We’ll leave it at that.”

On the boo-birds delivered from the Garden crowd, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara knew they were deserved.

“We let them down by our effort.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Maybe it would have been wise to have seen this one coming.

The Bruins struggled to get any high-quality looks against the Islanders. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins struggled to get any high-quality looks against the Islanders, dropping their record at home back under .500. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Maybe it would have been wise to have seen this one coming.

The Bruins, two days removed from shooting the lights out against the Flyers and grabbing their sixth and seventh of a possible 10 points over their last five games, no-showed and allowed a straight-up dreadful Islanders club to come into TD Garden and thrash Tuukka Rask and the B’s woeful team defense for three goals in a 5:20 span in the middle period to escape Boston with a 4-0 victory over the Black and Gold.

And when it happened, it was anything but expected.

The Bruins had done their part of shutting the Islanders down through the opening 30 minutes of action. Held to just six shot at the halfway mark of the game, it was on just their ninth shot of the game that the Islanders broke through for their first goal behind Nikolay Kulemin’s sixth goal of the season. It was a goal that caught both Adam McQuaid and David Krejci in a frantic chase to keep pace with the play — which they did not. On their 11th shot, the Islanders made it 2-0 on a soft goal allowed by Rask. That is a save he has to make — which he did not. And on the third goal of the night, the second from Kulemin, Joe Morrow was caught looking while Patrice Bergeron was supposed to provide support — which he did not.

Even when the Bruins were gifted with a third period power play that could have given the club a life — or at the very least made the box score look like this was a closer game than it really was — the Bruins instead whiffed and allowed Jason Chimera to storm down on Zane McIntyre (who replaced Rask after the second peri0d) for a shorthanded goal to make it 4-zip. Their power play, with a revamped look and balance through their lines, should have been better against the league’s 22nd-ranked PK. It was not.

It was just another maddening afternoon of almosts and should-have-beens for the Bruins, who looked beyond dead for the full 60 minutes of action against Islanders netminder Thomas Greiss, and it’s quickly become an exhausting theme of a season in which the club has proved completely unable to gain any positive traction when it’s become a dire need.

In their 22nd game following a win this season, the Bruins fell flat once again, giving them a total of 15 losses in such situations.

It’s almost impossible to imagine such inconsistencies plaguing a team for as long as they’ve plagued the Bruins — the team has as many three-game losing streaks as they do three-game winning streaks, and their record coming into today’s game was a cool .500 if you counted overtime losses as true losses — but this was a week that was supposed to allow the Bruins to generate some stream and make up for the points that have been left on the table again and again this year.

And this game, against the Eastern Conference’s worst team and a team with just five wins in 18 games away from their home rink, should have been the perfect roll-starter for a club that had shown plenty of signs that these days were finally behind them.

Instead, it was another surprising no show.

Which I suppose by now should be anything but surprising.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Last Saturday was a sign of progress from the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron knows this week is a big one for the Bruins. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Patrice Bergeron knows this week is a big one for the Bruins. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Last Saturday was a sign of progress from the Bruins.

Not only did the Bruins pummel six into the net for a big win over the Flyers, but it came just two nights after the Bruins were stymied on all but one of their 36 shots on net in yet another one-goal loss, this time to the Preds by a 2-1 final. That loss really brought about the same old-same old vibes that the Black and Gold have struggled with this season in the sense that their shots were there, but the finish was not. That loss in the Music City turned what would could have been a six or seven point road trip into a five out of eight possible points trip.

The frustration was as understandable as it was obvious when the Bruins arrived back in Boston the next day, and came at the expense of the Flyers the following day. In other words, the Bruins did not let return to the struggles of old fester into a multi-game slide. In fact, the six-goal outburst against the Flyers gave the B’s their first six-game segment with at least 20 goals scored this season.

“I think we have to sustain it if we want to have success,” Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said of the team’s offensive surge over the last two weeks. “We have to find the consistency where we’re close to have to having that every night.”

Now comes a week where the Bruins can and should keep it rolling if they’re to be taken seriously this season.

Up first, a hapless Islanders club that’s racked up the third-fewest points in the NHL and have just five wins in 18 road games this season. Then a Red Wings club that sits nine points behind the Bruins in the Atlantic and are already on death’s doorstep. Then comes a Friday night head-to-head with the Blackhawks which has always served as a where-are-you-really kind of game.

“You have to take it one game at a time, but at the same time the first two teams are teams we’re trying to either push down or they’re in our division,” Bergeron said. “It’s about making sure these are points you can’t let slip by, and we’re aware of that.”

But the Bruins will be without one of their go-to defenders for today’s Monday matinee head-to-head with the Islanders, as Kevan Miller will sit with a concussion sustained on a board from Jakub Voracek in Saturday’s win. Puck-moving defenseman Colin Miller (lower-body) will also miss his third straight game for the B’s, too. That will draw Joe Morrow, a healthy scratch for the last 16 games in total, back into action for his first game since Dec. 12 against the Canadiens.

This isn’t the first time that the Bruins have been down a defenseman or two and they know it probably won’t be the last. And it won’t change what a defense that’s allowed the second-fewest shots per game does or expects out of one another.

“More than ever we’re a unit that way that we’re all working together,” B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid said.

“It doesn’t really matter a whole lot who’s in and out, we just try to stick to the same focus.”

Tuukka Rask gets the call in net for the Bruins. Rask made stops on 21-of-24 shots against in Saturday’s win over the Flyers, and has a 22-9-3 record and .925 save percentage on the year. The Islanders counter with Thomas Greiss. Greiss made a career-high 48 saves in his last game against the Bruins and has 10 wins and a .921 save percentage in 19 starts this season

This is the second of three meetings between the B’s and Isles this season.

The Islanders took the last one by a 4-2 final at TD Garden back on Dec. 20.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Frank Vatrano – David Krejci – David Backes

Tim Schaller – Ryan Spooner – Riley Nash

Austin Czarnik – Dominic Moore – Anton Blidh

Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Joe Morrow – John-Michael Liles

Tuukka Rask

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Kevan Miller suffered a concussion in Saturday's win over the Flyers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Kevan Miller suffered a concussion in Saturday’s win over the Flyers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Down in a heap and knocked out of the game on a boarding major from Flyers forward Jakub Voracek in the second period, Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller was labeled with a vague ‘upper-body syndrome’ ailment from head coach Claude Julien on Saturday.

A day later, and without Miller on the ice for a Sunday practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Julien specified the nature of that upper-body injury and confirmed that Miller has suffered a concussion and will be out indefinitely as part of the NHL’s concussion protocol.

With Miller out and Colin Miller still out with a lower-body injury (Miller has missed the last two games but was on the ice long before practice began and did some skating by himself), Joe Morrow will draw back into action for the B’s matinee head-to-head with the Islanders at TD Garden on Monday. It’s depth that the B’s are thankful for given what’s become a year-long bout with injuries and sometimes inconsistencies.

“We’re fortunate we have eight guys and all are capable,” B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid said of the club’s defensive depth. “All are capable and have experience have a little bit of experiencing playing with one another, and we’re fortunate that way.”

And though Morrow has sat as a healthy scratch for the last 16 games, McQuaid knows that Morrow’s experience and familiarity will help a Bruins defense that’s allowed just 26.7 shots against per game (the second-lowest mark in the NHL) stay afloat.

“I think more than ever we’re a unit that way in that we’re working together,” said McQuaid.

Out for 20 games this season (19 because of hand surgery and one for an illness), the B’s are 11-9-0 without Miller.

The 6-foot-2 Miller has three assists to go with 51 hits and 36 blocked shots in 26 games this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Ken, Rear and Ty get into a very solid week for the B's beating St Louis and the Flyers and losing a hard-fought game against the Predators. Is this team turning things around? Krug and Marchand are kicking things up a notch. The guys also talk about Claude and Sweeney's job security before getting into some big hits around the league this week.