Saturday night delivered a brutal punch to the gut of all Bruins fans. During pregame warm ups we learned that David Krejci wouldn’t take the ice. Krejci was replaced by the definition of useless in Matt Belesky and the night would only get worse for Boston.
The Bruins looked great through the first period and a half, mounting a 3-0 lead. Both Marchand and Pastranak scored two goals apiece, and the Bruins looked sharp on both ends of the ice. The offense had great puck movement, mounting some solid zone time and got in hard on the forecheck. But the Bruins could not come away with two points and fell to a sobering 3-3-1 on the season.
The Bruins showed something that no one ever wants to see out of a hockey team — quit. The Bruins quit in that embarrassing collapse against Buffalo. After Marchand scored a mere 37 seconds into the second period the slow collapse began. The Sabres, an atrocious hockey team this season, upped the physicality and began getting some solid hits up and down the ice. The physicality quickly and noticeable began slowing down the new finesse-looking Bruins team.
Tim Schaller was the victim of some of the mental wear of the physical tempo. This led to an unacceptable turnover that set up O`Reilly for an easy goal that breathed life into the dying Sabres. Schaller casually skated the puck out of the defensive zone and got his pocket picked. This was a glaring example that the Bruins lacked the energy they had earlier in the game.
Pastranak scored off a beautiful touch pass through the neutral zone from Riley Nash to make it 4-1. Then the collapse accelerated. After Pastranak’s second of the night the Bruins became listless. Buffalo hit the Bruins in the nose and Boston had no counter. The Bruins got pushed around in front of Khudobin, especially on Jack Eichels goal that cut the lead down to 4-2 heading into the third.
At home against one of the worst teams in the NHL, holding a two-goal lead should be a guaranteed two points. But not for this team. The Bruins looked drained in the third period. The Sabres came out ready to go in the third taking the game to the Bruins. Buffalo was getting good looks on Khudobin early and often, forcing the Bruins play on their heels.
The Bruins youth was a real problem late in Saturday’s game. The passing became sloppy. Boston started taking bad icings and got hemmed into the defensive zone. They became sluggish in front of the net, and the Sabres started to exploit the passing seams between the dots. The domination of the Sabres led to Pouliots first goal of the season, adding to the meltdown.
This next sequence of events was scary to witness. The lack of mental toughness the Bruins displayed was embarrassing. Carlo took a questionable interference call with four minutes left in the game, continuing the trend of the Bruins taking stupid penalties. The Sabres went to work on the power play getting solid looks on goal. Just as the power play expired Buffalo scored on a floater from Evander Kane. Watching this play unfold was so bad it was hilarious. Khudobin’s slow reaction couldn’t react to the weak shot. Torey Krug decided to just lay on his stomach at the top of the crease instead of actually playing defense.
Now after surrounding both 3-0 and a 4-1 lead, the Bruins still have a chance to scrape out two points. But the Bruins could not refocus mentally, and the Sabres dictated the overtime period. Once again, the Bruins get hemmed in the defensive zone and Buffalo makes them pay with the game winner to seal the deal.
The Bruins prepare for a much harder schedule coming off of the worst loss of the season. What can they do to fix the issues? Nothing. The young talent is the future of the team. If losing games this season is the cost, then that’s what is going happen. Sadly, the season may turn into a bust for hockey fans.