By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In this weird, strange 2021 NHL season, the Boston Bruins are doing all right. More than all right, actually.READ MORE: 'George Floyd’s Life Mattered': Local Politicians React To Derek Chauvin Verdict
They’re 11-4-2, sitting in first place in the highly competitive East Division despite playing two fewer games than the two teams behind them in the standings. Overall, they’re doing well.
With that being established, though, it must be noted that the Bruins have themselves an Islanders problem.
If that wasn’t clear prior to Thursday night’s 7-2 loss at Nassau Coliseum, it’s as clear as day now. The Islanders improved to 3-0-0 against Boston on the season, now accounting for three of the Bruins’ four regulation losses. After Thursday’s lopsided final, the Islanders have now outscored the Bruins 12-4 in those three games; the Bruins have outscored opponents 49-31 in their other 14 games.
New York beat Tuukka Rask twice, with five goals in two games, before pouring seven goals in past Jaroslav Halak.
In a season where the Bruins will face each divisional opponent eight times, it’s a problem they’re going to have to fix.READ MORE: Gov. Baker Makes National Guard Available After Chauvin Guilty Verdict
Despite the results, head coach Bruce Cassidy still sees it as more of a Bruins problem than an Islanders problem.
“Well, we’ve been tied every time going into the third. I thought we did our best work the first time in here, it was a 1-0 [loss], they got a fortunate deflection where we stayed patient. It’s how they play. It’s how they play and I’d like to think when we’re on our game, we’re pretty structured and responsible in how we can put teams away,” Cassidy said. “So they beat us at our own game a little bit in terms of not being yourself, and I thought tonight was a real good example. We beat ourselves in the third period, clearly. Give them credit, they capitalized on the opportunities. But like I said, I think those goals three, four and five that sort of put us behind, a little bit is on us trying to force things or not executing.”
The first loss at Nassau Coliseum came by a 1-0 final score. The second was a 4-2 loss. And Thursday’s game was tied at 2-2 entering the final period, before the wheels fell off for Boston.
“The similarity is they stick with their game the last few times in here. The last time we were in here was our third [game] in four nights, the last period could have just been a simple issue of they had more juice in the tank,” Cassidy said. “But at the end of the day they found a way every time.”
The Bruins will play one more game on Long Island, on Tuesday, March 9. After that, the teams will meet in back-to-back sets in Boston, first in late March and again in mid-April.MORE NEWS: Breaking: Derek Chauvin Found Guilty On All 3 Counts In Death Of George Floyd
The Bruins may well end up being fine on the season even if they never quite solve Barry Trotz’s system during the regular season. But with the temporary format pitting divisional opponents against each other in the first two rounds of the playoffs, a potential playoff series could be a stiff challenge that has the potential to derail the entire Bruins season.