Bruins notes: Top line's an offensive no-show

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Bruins notes: Top line's an offensive no-show

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

TAMPA Milan Lucic and David Krejci did the big damage on Thursday night in Game Three with a nifty play in the opening minutes, but they couldnt follow it up strongly.

Instead they were the ones taking on damage Saturday afternoon in a forgettable performance as Bostons top forward group that looked as listless, disinterested and defeated as theyve appeared since the Montreal series.

Krejci was slammed hard by Marc-Andre Bergeron in Game Two, and that seemed to have long-lasting effects for the Czech Republic playmaker as he attempted to push his team to a 3-1 advantage in the series.

Instead Lucic, Krejci and Nathan Horton combined for two shots on net and a minus-5 on the night with the center taking it on the chin via the stat sheet rather than a literal hit on the ice. The line's best threat of the day came in the third period when Lucic had a good portion of open net to work with, but instead found Tampa goalieMike Smith's pads as the Bruins often did over the final 40 minutes of play.To say Bostons top there forwards were non-factors would be tremendously accurate in a game that could have so much more had any of them been able to get offensive work done either on the power play (0-for-2) or five-on-five.

The offensive no show from those three was one of the biggest head scratchers in a day full of them as the Bruins collapsed on a three goal first period lead, and limp back to Boston after losing a 5-3 decision in Game Four at the St. Pete Times Forum.

On top of that, David Krejci won only three out of his 12 face-offs in another lackluster game on the draw and showed little of the combination flairtenacity that usually emerges when hes at the top of his game.

Instead Krejci was largely invisible while finishing with a team-worst minus-3 and was one of the culprits among a team-wide breakdown over the final 40 minutes that looked all too familiar.

David had a tough night in the face-off circle, and I think that kind if identified the type of game he had tonight, said Claude Julien. That wasnt the type of game were used to seeing David play. I didnt feel our players a lot of our players did not play their best gamer tonight.

His line after two periods had no shots on net. But theres more than David on that line. I think it was a tough night for their line tonight. We know what impact they have for a hockey club when theyre on. Tonight was a tough night for that line.

So much for Tomas Kaberle turning the corner with the Bruins.

After showing something in a pair of wins against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman was right back in the Bs hamper with possibly the worst 11 minute performance in the playoffs to date.

Two amazing things stand out about Kaberles tough night in 11:35 of ice time during the 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum in Game Four: the Bs defenseman managed to finish at only a minus-1 and he could be in danger of becoming a healthy scratch in favor of Steve Kampfer if things continue along at their current rate.

Of course, there were plenty more bad plays to go around. Milan Lucic had a cringe-worthy turnover near the blue line that led to Simon Gagnes game-winner in the third period, and that capped off a totally absent game from Bostons top line of Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton.

But it was Kaberle that was completely manhandled by Sean Bergenheim behind the Boston net for Tampas game-tying goal in the second period at the end of the 3:38 barrage that saw the Lightning tie the game.

I saw Bergenheim coming and I lost it between my legs. I have to be a bit sharper on that play. Its one of those games you have to learn from. We all have to pretty much forget about the second period, said Kaberle. We have to worry about playing a full 60 minutes and then we wont have any problems.

And it was Kaberle again in the third period that couldnt get on the same page with Tim Thomas when Ryan Malone and Simon Gagne rushed in for the game-winner while the Bs struggled to hang on for dear life.

Kaberle was suffering from the same malady that seemed to be infecting the rest of the team so acutely from the second period moving forward.

We had to continue playing the same way, said Julien. Somehow we started getting stretched out again. They started getting speed. They started getting momentum.

Kaberle certainly did nothing to stem the momentum, and the question becomes what to do with Kaberle and defenseman partner Adam McQuaid -- a tandem struggled to hold the fort in the final 40 minutes of Saturday afternoons collapse job in Tampa Bay.

The conventional wisdom is that the Bruins would never scratch Kaberle given that they surrendered two first round picks (Joe Colborne and an actual first round pick) to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the defenseman. But when it comes to winning and losing, the former Leafs D-man didnt do anything but hurt on Saturday.

The Bruins dropped their first game of the playoffs after scoring first, and now sit 7-1 in the postseason when scoring the first goal against their opponents.

Dennis Seidenberg blocked a game-high seven shots in 24:58 of ice time, but was also on the ice for a pair of Tampas goals including the Simon Gagne game-winner that came just moments after his final blocked shot of the game.

Patrice Bergeron potted a pair of goals to give him a team-high 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in the 12 playoff games hes appeared in, and his second goal was his first career short-handed goal in the playoffs.

The Bruins went 0-for-2 on the power play and are now 4-for-52 in the playoffs on the man advantage a 7.7 percent success rate. It is simply amazing that they stand two wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals given that horrendous statistic.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold. 

Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

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Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

BOSTON – The Bruins are starting to run out of adjectives and descriptors for these “no-show” performances on home ice.

The Bruins made it twice in two months that they’ve dropped a disappointing dud to one of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams when they came out flat, and never showed any signs of life in a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. The lack of effort and pitiful results were particularly disappointing coming off a solid five game stretch where they’d engineered high effort wins over Florida, St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Patrice Bergeron finished a minus-3 on the afternoon, and said in quasi-disgust that he knew five minutes into the game that his team didn’t have “it” on Monday.

“Something that we talked [headed into Monday was] about building from the last few weeks, and how good it felt around the room, I guess, with winning games basically,” said Bergeron. “[The shutout loss] just shows that you have to show up every night and not take things for granted. I think we did [take things for granted] this afternoon.

“It was about finding someone to get us a shift to get us going basically. We had a few good shifts there, and we sustained a little bit of pressure there. But then we just couldn’t keep that for the next lines after going, we couldn’t sustain that or build from that. It was really the whole team throughout the lineup that didn’t show up and, you know, it’s obviously inexcusable, unacceptable.”

Claude Julien mentioned the compacted schedule and potential fatigue playing into the Bruins looking “flat” on Monday against the Islanders, and perhaps that is partially to blame for an uncharacteristically lifeless performance from the Black and Gold. But the B’s essentially did nothing for 60 minutes after not having played for 48 hours dating back to a Saturday afternoon matinee win over the Flyers, so the fatigue excuse is difficult to swallow.

Instead it looked like a Bruins team that thought they were going to roll out the pucks and beat the worst team in the Metro Division that had lost four-of-five games. Instead a defensive zone breakdown led to a Nikolay Kulemin goal midway through the second period, and the Bruins collapsed after that. Josh Bailey tucked a short side goal past a late-reacting Tuukka Rask for a soft serve special allowed by Boston’s ace goaltender, and Kulemin scored again in the second period once the Bruins began cheating at the offensive end of the ice.

To make matters worse, the Bruins showed zero fight or willingness to scratch and claw their way back into the game in the third period. Instead it looked like they quit on two points that could end up being extremely important at the end of the season.

It also looked like the Bruins weren’t ready to play, and that they overlooked the downtrodden Islanders for the second time in as many months.

“Maybe we took them a little lightly, but we just weren’t ready [to play],” said Brad Marchand. “We have to look ourselves in the mirror and all be a little bit better. We all have to be prepared for every game. You can’t look at the guy besides us and think he’s going to do the job. We have to take a little onus on ourselves and all be a little bit better. As a team, again, we have to play the system together and we have to back each other up. We have to play as one unit and we didn’t do that.”

It’s long past the point where the words even matter that the Bruins are uttering after games like Monday afternoon. Instead it’s about results and nothing else, and the B’s were nothing short of putrid in that category against the Islanders with points at a premium this time of year.