'Loose' defense sinks Bruins against Red Wings

'Loose' defense sinks Bruins against Red Wings
October 14, 2013, 7:45 pm
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BOSTON - The Bruins didn’t have a lot of things working in synch against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday afternoon, and that ranged from the obvious (the power play) to the surprising defensive meltdowns in their own end.

Following the loss Claude Julien basically said the Bruins lost the 3-2 decision because of self-inflicted gun shot wounds in the defensive zone rather than anything exotic executed by the Red Wings.

The mere fact Zdeno Chara was on the ice for two of the three goals against underscores something seriously amiss in the D-zone for the Black and Gold. It was obvious in the first period when Pavel Datsyuk blew by him to set up Henrik Zetterberg, and even more so when the Bruins came up short in the game’s final seconds.

It wasn’t just Chara’s fault, of course.

Reilly Smith was also lax in back-checking to slow down the dynamic Detroit duo or stop the pass directly in front of the net. That’s something the young winger will need to improve if he’s wants to keep playing with Loui Eriksson and Patrice Bergeron against the other team’s best players.

“You take those three goals away – which I thought were goals that we could have easily defended against – we were there, but we didn’t react,” said Claude Julien. “That kind of tarnished the outcome of the game. We were a little loose in our coverage today, and it resulted in those three goals.

“Every game you look at things and you try and rectify those things with practice, and bring it to the players’ attention. That’s what we have to do…especially on the back check; we need to come back a little harder and a little better. Just because you’re a couple of feet away from that guy doesn’t mean you have him. There wasn’t full commitment in that. When you play a team like Detroit, they don’t need that many chances.”

For the initial go-ahead score, Brad Marchand was caught chasing after Stephen Weiss as he crashed the backdoor with Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski scrambling to keep order in the D-zone. It looked more like an elaborate elementary school fire drill than the B’s finely crafted box-plus-one defensive system.

On the third goal, the Bruins were very much guilty of standing around in their own zone while the Wings rushed the net. Chara didn’t step up enough when Cleary swooped into the front of the net, and none of Milan Lucic, Jarome Iginla or David Krejci covered up in the slot area. One beat later Daniel Alfredsson had the puck on Cleary’s stick, and the Wings had their insurance goal while taking advantage of Boston defense’s gaffes in front.

None if it was good enough for a team that prides themselves on refusing to allow opponents the slot area for offensive chances.

“We kind of just fell asleep for a second there, and the guy had an extra second. All of the sudden the puck is in the net,” said Tuukka Rask, who hadn’t allowed more than a single goal in a game until Monday’s defeat. “I’m not blaming myself really, but it’s a letdown game when you don’t really get that many scoring chances.

“Once they get [scoring chances] you’d like to be there and stop the puck, but they’re also a good team. They’ve scored a lot of goals…tough loss. It’s not good enough that you’re almost there. You’ve got to get there and have the gas.  It’s little mental mistakes, but today it was more costly than the other night.”

As Rask alluded to, both goals happened in a quick burst less than three minutes after Jarome Iginla and Torey Krug had three or four legit shots to score the go-ahead goal. It revealed an obvious lack of concentration in Boston’s game, which made the defensive shifts all the more disappointing from players that are usually as sound defensively as you could possibly hope for.

Julien and his coaching staff will certainly have plenty of things to point out on video as the Bruins prepare for three straight games on the road – including a swing through Florida this week.