BOSTON, MA - Following Boston's 8-2 preseason loss to the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden on Thursday night, a slew of Bruins around the room were feeling like they left Malcolm Subban out "high and dry."
Eight goals off 28 shots against the 19-year-old, who was starting his first game between the pipes in the spoked-B. The young netminder had stopped all 12 shots he faced in Montreal in Monday night's 6-3 win over the Habs.
He admitted he didn't face too much pressure in that game; he got that tonight, and not just in the form of four shots each from Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. Subban stayed in the entire game, powering through a tough outing.
"We didn’t help him out, that’s for sure and you can’t blame him for tonight’s loss," Captain Zdeno Chara was pretty quick to say postgame in the B's locker room.
"We made some mistakes out there and you have to expect that, but as far as the coaching staff, the demands that they have on us as players are pretty simple and they want us to compete," said Gregory Campbell, playing in his first game since breaking his leg on June 5 during the Eastern Conference Final.
"Malcolm, he made some good saves tonight. He's a young kid and that's a really good team over there with some young players and I think the onus is on us to help him out a little bit more."
"It's a tough atmosphere; they had a pretty good lineup dressed and a lot of power plays, and he made some good saves," added Campbell. "He made a lot of good first saves and he competed til the end. I know that I'm sure he's disappointed but us players have to do a lot better job in front of him and support him."
"He's a young kid, a competitive kid, and extremely talented so, I look at ourselves and what we could have done better to help him out."
The B's skaters felt they could have had better positioning, less hesitation and more urgency to their game. When the Bruins were passive for even a second, the Wings took advantage, jumping out to a 4-0 lead and scoring a majority of their goals from banging at rebounds in front, two on the power play and one breakaway from Datsyuk to cap it off.
"We were just a little hesitant reacting to what they were doing, passing, or tight gaps or anything like that and they’re pretty good with the puck so they move it quickly, so if we’re hesitant getting to our spots they capitalize on it," said blueliner Matt Bartkowski, whose offensive-minded setup on Jarome Iginla's third goal of the preseason was obviously overshadowed by the wide-open loss.
"Just identifying your guy and then picking him up and playing him hard; we’ve just got to bare down on those guys. You can’t fault [Malcolm] for anything tonight," added Bartkowski. "If it was his first game or his 50th, it really doesn’t matter. We left him out to dry."
With just about a week gone in training game and four preseason games on tap, the varied lineups from game to game serve as an evaluation tool for coaches. And sometimes, the lineups don't necessarily match up.
"This is preseason and with all those things we saw tonight we chose to put that lineup together and obviously the lineups, and even talking to Mike Babcock there after the game, it wasn’t that great for him either because the lineups weren’t the same," B's Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters following the game.
"You [want to] look at the experienced players versus the experienced players. But he has to do what he has to do and we have to do what we have to do. We have to see some players, we have to be able to evaluate, make some decisions."
"So it’s okay, these games don’t count. When the season starts, that’s when you start worrying about these kind of games," added Julien. "But, right now, we have to see players and we’re going to continue to do that and that’s the way we evaluate around here."
Even if the situations and opponents vary from game to game during the preseason, the B's still hold themselves to a much better effort than the one displayed Thursday night.
"There was just too much hesitation in our game and not enough excitement and the competing level was not there," said Chara. "We ended up being out of position and just forcing plays."
"And as a veteran player, no matter if it's a preseason game or a regular season game, I think that standard has to be a bit higher," added Campbell.
"Having said that, it was the third game as a team and there's plenty to build on."
Subban Fights Through It
It was 4-0 after the first, but Coach Julien only felt Subban had let in one "bad goal," the fourth one, which happened with an extremely tired five-man unit in front of him that had been on for an extended shift. Danny DeKeyser found his way down through the left faceoff circle, and cut in near the goal line, throwing an off-angle shot towards Subban that beat the netimder short side, between his right arm and the post.
It was only 4-1 after the second, after Iginla scored his third of the preseason. The Red Wings then broke it open in the third, scoring four goals, including three in about a 1:30 span.
"We’ve talked to him already. I think it was a decision that was made after the second period; he had only given up one bad goal at that point. I thought the fourth goal was one that he could have had. And after that, the fifth and probably the seventh one are three of the goals, the seventh one he gave up with about six minutes left," said Julien, of his decision making.
"So, although he had given up a bad goal in the second, we wanted him to fight through it."
"This is a good learning thing for a goaltender to see this is what he’s going to be facing, he has to fight through those situations but at the same time, by the time I would have pulled him out with six minutes left I didn’t think it was necessarily the right time to put a real cold goaltender in that’s due to play the next game and get him injured," Coach added of his likely plan to put Chad Johnson in on Saturday in Detroit.
"So it was one of those nights that, unfortunately, I think our guys in front of him certainly left him out to dry a little bit. I thought we made some real bad mistakes. Even some of those goals in screens and tip-ins and loose pucks around the net, and a breakaway on that last goal. So it’s easy to point the finger at him but, if anything, I think we all have to take the blame for that and that’s for leaving him out to dry."
For the young netminder, the "learning experience" will mean that his expectations will only be higher of himself, and a platform to raise his game.
"He competes; he works hard at practice and he’s got a lot of quickness in obviously his arms and legs," said Chara, of what he's noticed development-wise from Subban during training camp. (His quick reflexes were pretty apparent on numerous occasions throughout the game.)
"They’re a good team and it can only get better from here," said Subban. "I’m not looking at it that way, I’m looking at it in a positive way. It’s probably a good thing now I can be more focused, obviously and start the game better."
"I've got to be better the next opportunity I get."
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