The Boston Bruins were up 4-1 over the Buffalo Sabres nearing the halfway point of their Saturday night matchup before three unanswered goals, including two in the last seven minutes of the game, sent them into overtime. The Bruins, who have goals to return to the playoffs again this season, eventually lost to a struggling Sabres team coming off back-to-back games. While it was an early season game, the showing exposed some potential downfalls in this Bruins team.
Yes, a majority of the core was missing in Saturday’s game, including starting goaltender Tuukka Rask, who suffered a concussion earlier in the week. But there is absolutely no excuse to squander a 4-1 lead to a low-caliber team, nonetheless roll over in overtime and lose. The one point from the overtime loss should in no way be considered a consolation, but a tragic loss that exposed the biggest holes Boston has to offer.
The Bruins have come nowhere close to improving their goaltending situation. Anton Khudobin looked awful late in the game. A shot that hit him right in the glove bounced out into a dangerous area, eventually leading to the Sabres’ overtime goal by Ryan O’Reilly. Boston limited themselves at the beginning of seasoning by allowing Malcolm Subban to be added from waivers by the Las Vegas Golden Knights. In his three games for the team before succumbing to injury, one of which was a 3-1 win over the Bruins, Subban posted a 2.06 Goals Against Average. If the club would have been able to find a way to keep Subban, they would be able to pit Khudobin against him for starts while Rask is injured. Khudobin’s lackluster performances so far have proven the Bruins will be forced to lean heavily on Rask when he is healthy. If/when Boston makes a playoff run, Rask’s late season fatigue will be a serious concern.
On defense, the unit showed its inexperience as Carlo failed to jump into a play offensively after coming out of the penalty box. Instead Carlo went straight to the bench, something head coach Bruce Cassidy pointed out after the game is the opposite of what is instructed. Another, more surprising, mistake by a young defenseman was the shove of a Sabres forward by Torrey Krug into Anton Khudobi. Perhaps directly responsible for the overtime winner, the contact prevented Khudobin from re-centering himself in the goal for a bid at the rebound save.
The mistake by Krug is the most concerning. Despite his age, he is looked at as a leader of the defense. It’s very possible that goalie interference would have been called if Krug did not shove the forward. Regardless, the young team must bounce back in their return to the ice on Thursday against the San Jose Sharks. After an embarrassing showing against the Sabres, Boston needs to re-establish their home ice and prove to fans that the previous game was a fluke. If the Bruins don’t respond with a win, more questions will be raised about the development of the team and if this year’s iteration is anywhere near a playoff contender. I’m inclined to believe they can tighten their play, but the first month of the season has been thus far inconsistent.