Bruins Hope Growing Pains on Defense Stops Here

Jan 30, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (55), Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21), Washington Capitals right wing Richard Panik (14), and Capitals defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (57) battle for the puck in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 30, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (55), Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21), Washington Capitals right wing Richard Panik (14), and Capitals defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (57) battle for the puck in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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When the Boston Bruins let Torey Krug leave in free agency in the fall to the St. Louis Blues and then when former captain Zdeno Chara followed right before the season started by going to the Washington Capitals, it was clear the Boston’s front office wanted to go younger on defense.

By going younger, it was known that the Bruins were going to go through some growing pains and have some tough nights. Tuesday night, the Bruins defense went through one of their toughest nights of the season and they hope the growing pains end there.

In a 5-4 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils, the Black and Gold’s defense left goalie Jaroslav Halak alone by himself on an island. Literally. From bad giveaways to flat-footed defensemen, it was a night that coach Bruce Cassidy would like to forget.

An issue that the Bruins have been having lately is the breakout from their zone. The forwards are to blame as well, but against the Devils, the issues started early in the game. A failed clearing attempt at the blue line led to a turnover and New Jersey capitalized just 2021 Bruins killer Miles Wood scored when he collected a pass behind the B’s defense near the net and beat Halak four his fourth goal this season against Boston.

That was just the beginning. Several times the New Jersey forwards got good speed through the neutral zone and went by Boston defensemen like they weren’t even there. It led to golden chances for Wood, who could have had a hat trick in just two periods, and Jack Hughes, only to have Halak stop them.

The issues hit rock bottom for the Bruins at the end of the second period after a power play goal from Brad Marchand cut the deficit to 3-2. Jeremy Lauzon collected a loose puck off of a defensive zone faceoff win and tried an outlet pass in front of his net. Devils’ veteran forward Kyle Palmieri stole the pass and quickly ripped a wrist shot by Halak to restore NJ’s two-goal lead.

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The Bruins played a better third period and overtime defensively and even tied the game with two goals in the final period from defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk. Boston hopes that the growing pains stop there ahead of a big two-game home set beginning tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.