3 takeaways as Red Wings continue to have the Bruins’ number


“They played fast and we didn’t.”

Jeremy Swayman’s 24 saves weren’t enough in the Bruins’ 5-2 loss to the Red Wings on Friday. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

The Boston Bruins couldn’t shake off the tryptophan for their annual Black Friday matchup against the Detroit Red Wings.

With one regular-season win over the Bruins under their belt, the Red Wings came out flying from the get-go. Jim Montgomery’s squad, meanwhile, committed several self-inflicted mishaps ranging from structural defensive breakdowns to unforced turnovers and untimely penalties.

“They played fast and we didn’t,” Montgomery explained following Boston’s 5-2 loss.

The Bruins fought an uphill battle from the start, succumbing to a 2-0 first-period deficit on J.T. Compher’s power-play tip and Alex DeBrincat’s theft of Matthew Poitras for his breakaway tally.

Amid their sloppy play, the Bruins looked prime for a breakthrough in a pair of sequences during the final 40.

Serving in a net-front role on the top power-play unit in place of James van Riemsdyk, Jake DeBrusk notched his second goal in as many games to cut Detroit’s lead in half just three minutes into the second period.

After establishing better habits in the middle frame, the Bruins looked like they’d at least remain in striking distance heading into intermission. But an ill-timed high-sticking infraction on Mason Lohrei allowed Detroit to regain their two-goal edge after an uncovered Robby Fabbri fired a shot from the faceoff dot past Jeremy Swayman shortly after its third power play opportunity expired.

Danton Heinen put the Bruins back within striking distance 04:12 into the third, taking advantage of a bounce off the boards shortly after a faceoff in Boston’s attacking end for his second goal of the season.

But the Bruins unraveled – again – after Brandon Carlo committed a hook at 05:02. Dylan Larkin cashed in for Detroit’s second tally with the man advantage a mere six seconds after Carlo’s infraction.

David Perron secured Detroit’s 5-2 victory with his empty-net tally. Here’s what we learned after the Red Wings earned their second regulation win over the Bruins.

Boston’s shorthanded unit struggled as the penalties piled up.

Perhaps the Bruins got the short end of some borderline calls on Friday. But they hardly did themselves any favors during their flattest outing of the season.

The Bruins committed six penalties, giving the skilled Red Wings ample chances on the power play. Their top-ranked penalty kill hardly broke down in front of Swayman’s crease, leading to a pair of quick goals in the slot from Compher’s first-period tip and Larkin’s tally early in the third.

“They did a great job executing and finding the middle of the ice on us,” Montgomery said. “And they had more 2-on-1’s down low because of it.”

Of all the contributing factors to Boston’s first-quarter run, the penalty kill ranks near the top of the list. That’s quite an impressive feat, given the quantity of penalties they’ve compiled over the first 19 games.

The Bruins have committed 73 penalties, averaging nearly four per game. Friday marked the fourth instance where they had to kill at least six penalties in a game. That stretch also includes the eight infractions they committed in their first regulation loss to the Red Wings on Nov. 4.

Boston’s stout shorthanded unit encountered a blip after allowing another pair of power play markers against Detroit. Even with the hiccup, the Bruins will need to start limiting the amount of trips to the box and provide a breather for an overworked penalty kill.

“That’s a strength of ours that we take pride in,” forward Charlie Coyle said. “We don’t want to take penalties, and when we do take pride in getting ourselves out of jams and killing those. We didn’t do nearly a good enough job today doing that.”

Lohrei will need more seasoning in Providence.

All indications point to Matt Grzelcyk returning to Boston’s lineup ahead of Saturday’s matinee in New York.

Albeit in a red no-contact sweater, Grzelcyk rejoined the team for practice a week ago following his rehab from a lower-body injury. The Charlestown native last appeared in the lineup on Oct. 30, exiting early in Boston’s overtime win over Florida.

With Grzelcyk on the mend, Lohrei will likely return to Providence for further seasoning.

In his first call-up, the 2020 second-round selection showcased his keen offensive awareness in multiple situations, providing a scoring threat off the rush and in their attacking zone setup.

Despite notching a goal and three assists through 10 games, Lorhei encountered some growing pains defensively. Aside from helping the Bruins in their transitional breakouts, the former Ohio State Buckeye remains a raw product in his own end, particularly struggling against speedier squads like Detroit.

With Grzelcyk’s reliability in a top-four role, Lohrei becomes the odd man out. Even so, he’ll likely take some constructive feedback from his first NHL experience.

“We’ve been communicating and showing video to Mason after every game,” Montgomery said of Lohrei. “I think [assistant coaches] Joe Sacco and John McLean have done a really good job of showing him where he’s really good and where his game needs to evolve … those things are reading rushes and being firm on pucks, and also, in the D-zone, taking away time and space.”

Lohrei’s impending return trip to Providence shouldn’t be viewed as a demotion. Instead of hovering in a bottom-pair role in Boston, he’ll continue to log heavy even strength, special teams, and shutdown minutes down at the AHL.

“He’s a tremendous hockey player,” Montgomery added. “We’re so excited that we have him, right? But there’s growing pains with young players. There just is.”

The Bruins are looking forward to a quick turnaround.

When it comes to the regular season, the Bruins developed quite the winning habit under Montgomery. Yet, aside from last year’s bitter first-round exit and the roster turnover over the summer, they’ve hardly faced significant moments of adversity.

So it didn’t come as a surprise when the Bruins admitted to welcoming a quick opportunity for a bounce back before departing for the bright lights of New York City.

“It’s good to get in a game again and try to adjust things,” DeBrusk said. “We didn’t do a lot to win tonight. It’s one of those things that hasn’t happened as much this year, so it always feels weird and it sucks. But you have to move on, and sometimes it’s good to face an opponent the next day.”

Saturday marks one of their toughest challenges yet.

Coming off their Black Friday win over the Flyers, the Rangers moved to within two points of the Bruins in the Eastern Conference standings. Like the Bruins, the Blueshirts relied on their goaltending for their early success, with Igor Shesterkin remaining in Vezina Trophy form and two-time Cup winner Jonathan Quick providing rather surprising results in a backup role.

The Bruins struggled with speedier teams like the Red Wings. They were also overmatched when facing heavier squads like the Panthers over the past few years. The Rangers provide a mix of both among their forwards and defensemen.

Indeed, the Bruins will have their hands full as they look to avoid their first two-game skid of the season.