Red Wings-Bruins wrap-up: Bergeron, Bruins school young Wings in search of an identity

The Detroit Red Wings laid an egg in the form of a 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, dropping their 4th straight game (0-3-and-1) and dropping to 4-5-and-2 over their first 11 games of play.

The rested Bruins, who hadn’t played since last Saturday, simply got the better of the Red Wings, and now Boston sits tied in the Atlantic Division standings with Detroit at 5-and-3, despite having played 8 games to Detroit’s 11.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Detroit: Saturday’s opponent, the Buffalo Sabres, are 5-4-and-1 after Thursday’s game vs. Seattle (Buffalo lost 5-2), and will be making a cross-country trip back home on Friday…

But the Vegas Golden Knights, who sit at 5-and-5, will be sitting in Detroit, waiting for Sunday’s match-up after defeating Ottawa 5-1.

Long story long, the Red Wings have played in two completely non-competitive games, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier as Detroit is amidst a stretch of 10 games played over the course of 17 nights.

Reflecting upon Thursday’s loss to Boston, Patrice Bergeron both scored a natural hat trick and added a fourth goal to the mix, and Bergeron was bemused about scoring his first 4 goals of the season in game 7, as he told NESN’s Logan Mullen:

“Honestly, I think it’s one of those things where I’ve been in the league long enough to know that it’s going to come back, right?” Bergeron said after the game. “So, I have the experience that I can rely on. I think it’s about making sure you don’t force plays or try to think about the end result, but really go back to the details and making sure we play the right way, put yourself in a good position and eventually it’s going to come your way.”

For the troubles Bergeron had putting the puck in the back of the net, it’s not as though his line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak had been lifeless. They were getting a lot of attention from other teams’ top units and creating chances, even if they weren’t always rewarded on the scoresheet.

Last week was a tough week for the Bruins in that they played against some really good teams in the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes. That saw the top line get away from their game a little bit, but suffice to say it snapped back on track, with Bergeron reaping the benefits.

“Maybe the last three games it was a little bit more to the outside, we were a little too spread out as a line,” Bergeron said. “Before that I thought we were creating a lot, maybe I wasn’t getting the goals but we were still creating some things and getting some wins as well. You’ve got to remember, that’s why I’m playing the game, you know what I mean? Sometimes, when you take a step back and take a look back at — my game is not just about scoring goals. And I think you always have to go back to what you want to do to help your team win and do those things and worry about details. The rest falls in place.”

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy and teammate Brad Marchand told NESN’s Jenna Ciccotelli that Bergeron’s break-out was inevitable

“He’s too good of a player to keep him down for long,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the win. “I think Bergy’s had some looks that haven’t gone in on as many as we’d all like … Sometimes you get one, it snowballs a little bit. We sort of knew that sooner or later that would happen.”

Marchand, who was credited with assists on all four of Bergeron’s goals, shared a similar assessment.

“It’s a matter of time,” Marchand said. “He’s such a dominant player in the league. He’s had a lot of good looks early on, it’s just sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. Everything he touched tonight went in. So for him, it’s just a matter of time. When he gets on a roll, he really gets on a roll.”

A former Red Wing earned some praise for his role in Mike Reilly’s insurance goal, as NESN’s Mullen noted…

The Bruins were at a potential breaking point in the third period Thursday. They remained on the power play after Detroit Red Wings winger Lucas Raymond’s 5-on-3 goal cut the B’s advantage to 3-1.

But Boston won the puck in the defensive zone, with Tomas Nosek gaining possession. Instead of just getting rid of the puck and launching it to the other end of the ice, he had the presence of mind to know he had a little bit of space. Meanwhile, Curtis Lazar shot out, making a beeline through the neutral zone. Nosek feathered a pass through that found Lazar just before he gained the offensive blue line, and he dashed to the net and tried to bury it past Detroit netminder Thomas Greiss.

That was unsuccessful, but Reilly had been trailing Lazar, and was there to nudge the puck home for his first goal with the Bruins — and first tally since Jan. 28, 2020. It was a backbreaker for the Red Wings in the Bruins’ 5-1 win.

“That was a killer,” Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said after the game. “That’s the one you’ve got to find a way — you can go out and make it 3-2, we went from having a chance to make it 3-2 to making it 4-1. That can’t happen.”

Reilly got some deserved fanfare — not many defensemen go charging to the net with a head full of steam while on the penalty kill — but he and Bruce Cassidy alike made sure to note that without Nosek, that play doesn’t happen.

“The shorty was just instinctual,” Cassidy said of Reilly. “That’s not coaching, that’s just him being a good hockey player and a smart player, getting up the ice. Great play by Nosek, first of all, to recognize he had time. Lazar goes to the net, so just guys making a good hockey play on that one.”

“Nosek made the head-man pass there, obviously a heads-up play,” Reilly said. “I think they were just a little bit out of position and we just blew the zone. I think it wasn’t a risky play to blow the zone, it was a pretty clear pass, but great play to start it from Nosek. Obviously, Lazar is a fast guy, drove the net, so a good play all around.”

But Bergeron deservedly got the lion’s share of praise for his game, as noted by the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy

You can take a breath, Bruins fans. It appears both your captain — and your power play — are going to be OK.

Just as folks started to wonder aloud whether his 36-year-old body was finally slowing down after all the hard miles, Patrice Bergeron scored his first, second, third and fourth goals of the year — three on the man-advantage — to lift the B’s to their most complete victory of the season, a 5-1 drubbing of the Detroit Red Wings at the Garden on Thursday. It was easily the B’s most complete win of the season, as they outshot the Wings (missing their captain Dylan Larkin and defenseman Danny DeKeyser) to the tune of 37-15.

While there were plenty of attaboys to go around, the night belonged to Bergeron. Though his game has never been measured by pure goal-scoring, he certainly didn’t want to start the season with a goose egg for the first seven games. But when you’ve won a Stanley Cup, four Selkes and a slew of gold medals in international competition like Bergeron has, you’ve got a pretty good memory bank to draw on to get through any rough patch.

The Boston Globe’s Matt Porter

Like many of his teammates, the Bruins captain started his 18th NHL season a bit slowly. In his first seven games, he had 17 shots on goal, and none went in. Coach Bruce Cassidy was telling reporters this week that No. 37 would be just fine. He was correct.

Four goals from Bergeron, all off smart feeds from Brad Marchand, gave the Bruins a 5-1 win over Detroit at TD Garden. He put up a natural hat trick in the first two periods, then fired one home off the rush in the final frame.

“He’s too good a player to keep him down for long,” Cassidy said. “That whole line, to be honest with you.”

It was Bergeron’s seventh hat trick and second four-goal night of his career, the first coming Jan. 6, 2018, against Carolina. Bergeron also became the first Bruin to connect for four since David Pastrnak on Oct. 14, 2019 against Anaheim. He is vintage Bordeaux.

“I’ve been in the league long enough to know it’s going to come back,” Bergeron said of his mini-drought. “I think it’s about making sure you don’t force plays or think about the end result, but go back to details and put yourself in good positions, and eventually it’s going to come your way. That’s how I was approaching it.”

And Boston Sports Journal’s Conor Ryan:

Granted, a rebuilding and green Detroit club — without captain Dylan Larkin — wasn’t exactly the most daunting opponent, but it was still encouraging that the Bruins put together arguably their most complete effort of the young season after a four-day layoff.

There’s always the risk of rust forming after a long stretch off the ice, but the Bruins took care of business rather handily against one of the first tomato cans on their schedule. 

Bergeron’s offensive outburst will draw most of the headlines, but the Bruins didn’t give the Red Wings a lot of room to breathe in this one — outshooting them by a lopsided 37-15 margin. 

And even though the Bruins (like their fans) aren’t particularly thrilled with this stop-and-go start to the 2021-22 docket, Bergeron did focus on a few silver linings for a roster that does have a number of new faces added to the mix. 

“You have to remember we only played seven games before tonight’s game and the three games before that — we were playing some pretty good teams,” Bergeron said. “I thought there were some hard battles and I think it’s good for us to learn early in the year that it’s hard to win in this league and you’re gonna have some challenges, and you got to stick with it and keep improving as a team. 

“I think there’s a lot of guys that are new to the locker room. I think we’re trying to gel and I think it’s been good, I guess, in a way — less games and more practice time and time to get together and really bond. So keep that going. But I thought tonight was a great effort.”

As NESN’s Mullen noted, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill wasn’t thrilled with his team’s inability to cover #37 in black

Bergeron is a dynamic player, to be sure. However, the Red Wings were giving him so much time and space in the slot on the power play — a place where he’s known to torture teams — that it was reaching the level of being silly.

To make the kick in the pants worse, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill admitted that covering Bergeron in the slot was not a concept that had been neglected in their game prep.

“(Covering) Bergeron in the slot is a job that we missed an assignment on twice,” Blashill said after the game. “We went over it lots before — I know (we) went over it pretty heavy about making sure what the assignments were — and we missed the assignment twice.”

And the Red Wings had to give credit where credit was due while speaking with the Associated Press:

”Boston came out ready to go and playing with a lot of pace and tempo,” Detroit defenseman Marc Staal said. ”We just caught ourselves defending a lot and then found ourselves in the box. It’s tough to climb out of a hole like that.”

Bergeron, the Boston captain who has played his entire career with the Bruins, had his seventh career hat trick secured before the end of the second period, beating Greiss on a wrist shot with 1:15 remaining.

It was also the third power-play goal of the night for the Bruins, who entered the game with three goals in 19 power-play opportunities.

”In the end, the game comes down to specialty teams,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. ”You’ve got to stay out of the box, but you’ve also got to kill the penalty. Their power play hadn’t been clicking a whole lot. Obviously, it clicked tonight. We’ve got to do a better job killing.”

Blashill surprisingly told’s Patrick Donnelly that he was not dissatisfied with the Wings’ play overall…

“I was satisfied with our effort and compete,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I didn’t think our effort and compete were poor, even to the end there. … There were moments of execution where we’ve just got to be better. … In the end, you’ve got to find a way to score, so we’re going to have to do a better job of that.”

Bergeron scored his first of the season to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 11:03 of the first, converting on a one-timer from the right circle after winning the face-off. He then made it 2-0 at 10:52 of the second when he beat Greiss blocker side off a pass by Marchand from behind the net.

“Everything [Bergeron] touched tonight went in,” Marchand said. “When he gets on a roll, he really gets on a roll. … Just because he goes through a stretch where maybe he doesn’t score as much as he used to, he’s still so effective for our team and he’s the heart and soul of our team. It was a matter of time before he had a night like he did tonight.”

And Staal told Donnelly that the Red Wings are far too busy right now to dwell on Thursday’s loss:

“We’ve got to keep staying positive and come to the rink tomorrow with good energy,” Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal said. “There aren’t really any moral victories tonight. We’ve just got to wake up tomorrow, get better and go into Buffalo (on Saturday) and try to get a win.”

Again, the Red Wings felt that they simply lost the special teams battle, as they told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan…

“The game came down to special teams,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “You have to stay out of the box. You have to kill a penalty. Their power play hadn’t been clicking a whole lot, but obviously it clicked tonight. We have to do a better job (penalty killing).”

Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman stopped 14 shots, as Boston outshot the Wings 37-15 a somewhat-indicator of how this game went. Thomas Greiss had 31 saves for the Wings, who’ve gone winless in four games (0-3-1).

“We just haven’t been able to generate much and getting much off the rush, either,” defenseman Marc Staal said. “It starts with playing better in our end, and not be tired at the end of a shift and dump it in, execute better, make better plays to give ourselves a chance to create some offense.”

The Wings (4-5-2) were without forward Dylan Larkin for a second consecutive game (personal reasons), but did get back Tyler Bertuzzi, who had missed the last two games in Canada (unvaccinated). Blashill also took defenseman Danny DeKeyser out of the lineup, sitting DeKeyser in favor of Jordan Oesterle, in an effort to find a winning lineup.

The Wings have only won once in their last 14 games in Boston (5-3-0) including the playoffs. Blashill said the character of the Bruins’ leadership group has been a key reason for the organization’s success in the last decade.

“The character they’ve had in the locker room has led to lots of winning,” Blashill said after the morning skate. “They’ve certainly been one of the most consistent organizations over the last 10 years or so and deserve to be considered for that.  Their coaching staff does a great job preparing, and they get things done right to be a tough opponent on a nightly basis.”

As Kulfan suggests, that’s a telling quote, as is this one, noted by Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen:

The Red Wings have lost six of their last eight games. They scored two or fewer regulation goals in six of those games. Their goal differential is -13 in those games. It hasn’t helped that top line players Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin have missed a total of six games.

Nobody seems sure when Larkin is coming back. He’s out because of “personal” reasons.

The Red Wings only managed to register 15 shots on goal against the Bruins. The No. 2 line of Filip Zadina, Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri managed a grand total of one shot on net. Suter’s season production — one goal and one assist — has been a disappointment.

“I think a lot of times we don’t get a lot of shots,” Blashill said. “That’s where this is a lack of offensive push. Against this (Bruins) team, they are really structured. You’re not going to break them down a whole bunch. You have to shoot to create chaos. And I just thought we passed up tons of shots.”

If you look down below at the stats, the Red Wings had 15 shots and 22 more attempts, for a total of 37 attempts, while Boston had 37 shots and 26 more blocked or wide attempts, for a total of 63 pucks fired at or near Detroit’s net.

For me, there is no reason to question Dylan Larkin for being absent from the team for a personal reason that the team won’t reveal–who knows what that might mean, so we might as well reserve judgment–but the play of the Red Wings’ players in the lineup, with perhaps the exceptions of Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider and Joe Veleno, hasn’t been good enough, and that’s an indictment upon both the players and coaching staff.

After 4 losing games, going into Saturday’s tilt vs. Buffalo and Sunday’s back-to-back against a Vegas team that’s won 4 of 5, we’re going to learn a lot about Detroit’s real identity in short order.

Here’s hoping we find out some positive things.


Highlights: Sportsnet posted an 8:17 highlight clip: posted a 9:08 highlight clip:

Post-game: The Bruins posted coach Bruce Cassidy’s post-game comments…

“He is too good of a player to keep him down for long, and that whole line to be honest with you.” — Coach Cassidy on Patrice Bergeron’s four-goal night— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 5, 2021

As well as comments from Mike Reilly…

“I feel like it was coming ever since I got to Boston. I feel like there’s been a lot of chances…shots, tips, so a little frustrated but good to get it out of the way.” — @mreilly93 on potting his first goal with the #NHLBruins— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 5, 2021

Brad Marchand…

“[He’s] the heart and soul of our team.” – @Bmarch63 on Patrice Bergeron— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 5, 2021

And Patrice Bergeron:

“Honestly, I think it’s one of those things where I have been in the league long enough to know it’s going to come back, right? So I think I have the experience that I can rely on.” — Patrice Bergeron on being witout a goal before tonight— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 5, 2021

Bally Sports Detroit posted Trevor Thompson’s post-game interview with coach Jeff Blashill:

WXYZ’s Brad Galli posted Marc Staal’s 5:24 post-game presser…

And coach Blashill’s 3:21 post-game presser:

The Red Wings posted a 1:08 clip of Staal and coach Blashill’s post-game remarks:

Photos: The Free Press posted a 9-image gallery;

The Detroit News embedded a 14-image gallery in Ted Kulfan’s recap; posted an 84-image gallery.

Statistics: Here are the Game Summary and Event Summary:

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.