By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — There’s nothing quite as exciting as the anticipation of a season starting anew.
There’s also nothing quite as deflating as an opening night dud.
And the Boston Bruins? They went ahead and authored the dud to end all duds on Wednesday night in Washington.
Technically, the game lasted 60 minutes. But this one was over just 24 seconds after the puck dropped. That was when T.J. Oshie one-timed a feed from Nicklas Backstrom at the bottom of the left faceoff circle, and fit it between the near-side post and Tuukka Rask to send an already-raucous Washington crowd into a frenzy.
The energy surge — which began when the home team and the home crowd celebrated the raising of their 2018 Stanley Cup champions banner — only intensified when the Capitals went on a power play 81 seconds later. Patrice Bergeron won the defensive zone faceoff, but the puck tumbled toward Rask, who struggled to play the puck at all. Evgeny Kuznetsov swooped in to score a much-too-easy goal, and the Capitals led 2-0.
The rout was on.
That sold-out Capital One Center crowd was there to celebrate a banner-raising. They ended up getting to witness an old-fashioned butt-kicking as well.
Things only snowballed from there for the Bruins, some of whom were part of the 2011-12 team that had its banner-raising celebration spoiled by the Flyers many moons ago. But these Bruins looked helpless from the jump, and the night proceeded to get worse.
Jake DeBrusk rung iron with the Bruins trailing by two in the opening period, but that would be as close as the Bruins would get to making any sort of positive headway on the scoreboard. Alex Ovechkin ripped a one-time slapper on the power play from (where else?) the top of the left faceoff circle just 4:17 into the second period to up the lead to 3-0.
Less than two minutes later, in a sequence that was perfectly indicative of the Bruins’ night, defenseman Matt Grzelcyk turned over the puck right in front of the Boston net. Nic Dowd went into a spin-o-rama move, and neither Kevan Miller or Tuukka Rask could react.
The Capitals led 4-0.
To that point, Rask had stopped 14 of the 18 shots he had faced. On a night when none of his teammates contributed much of anything, the goaltender certainly was not entirely to blame. But he also wasn’t helping matters.
Nevertheless, Bruce Cassidy kept Rask in the game, likely figuring his star goaltender would eventually stabilize. Instead, a little over a minute later, with the Caps on the power play, Rask let in one of the worst goals of his career.
The score stood at 5-0, less than 30 minutes into the game, so the night ended there for Rask.
The Bruins’ problems, though, lived on.
The Capitals headed to a 5-on-3 after Kevan Miller went off for cross-checking and David Backes was sent to the box for slashing. And, of course, they capitalized. This time it was John Carlson teeing up a one-timer from the left faceoff circle to beat Jaroslav Halak and put a six-spot on the board for the Caps.
And for good measure, Lars Eller sprung free on a partial breakaway and beat Halak to make it a neat 7-0 lead for the Capitals.
With that, the beatdown was complete. At least, the beatdown on the scoreboard was complete. One more beatdown remained, though that was more of the physical variety, when Brad Marchand let Eller know that the seventh goal celebration wasn’t appreciated by the Boston bench.
That fight would be the only thing the Bruins would win on this night, though, as the Capitals rolled to a 7-0 victory on opening night.
Knowing for months now that they’d have the chance to spoil the Stanley Cup party in D.C., the Bruins instead served as a piñata.
This being the sport of hockey — and this being the city of Boston — Rask is sure to take most of the heat after the loss. That’s just the simplified way which things to work.
And, obviously, Rask was bad. Rask was much worse than he’s capable of playing. This much is evident.
But, well, Rask was hardly alone. Spotlighting a Bruins player who can feel good about his work in the 2018-19 season opener would be a difficult chore.
The top line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak was on the goal for two even-strength goals. So was captain Zdeno Chara.
Every D-man except for John Moore managed to be on the ice for at least one even-strength goal.
Sean Kuraly took an early tripping penalty. The Capitals scored just seconds into their power play.
Marchand took a tripping penalty three minutes into the second period, when the Capitals led 2-0 and the game was very much still up for grabs. The Capitals scored on the power play to stretch their lead to 3-0.
Sean Kuraly headed to the box for holding and fighting later in the second. The Capitals scored on the power play.
Miller and Backes committed their penalties later in the second, and sure enough, the Capitals scored again.
The Bruins’ power play went 0-for-2. The Bruins’ penalty kill went 2-for-6. Nothing went right.
(The Bruins did dominate at the faceoff dot, winning 68 percent of all draws. That didn’t help much.)
Just about the only positive coming out of this opening night fiasco for the Bruins is that it only counts as a single loss in the standings, and there’s another game to play on Thursday night in Buffalo.
“It’s [expletive] one game,” Marchand told reporters afterwards. “It’s nothing. We’ll let it go and worry about tomorrow.”
If the Bruins are fortunate, Wednesday night will just be a rather rude, embarrassing wake-up call, one that reminded them that they didn’t quite have the requisite pep to play a real, live professional hockey game.
They’re going to need to at least come out on Thursday night and prove that they have the proper focus and energy required to compete. After the opening night flop, they’ve left themselves no choice.