BOSTON — Bruce Cassidy hopes his team can count when the Boston Bruins host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.
The Bruins, a franchise known for too-many-men penalties (think 1979 Stanley Cup semifinals), were twice guilty of the same infraction in Saturday’s loss to the New York Rangers.
The second time turned out to be a killer — Boston actually with five men on the ice when they were supposed to have three. Mats Zuccarello scored on the power play and the Bruins sustained their second straight loss.
“That’s a lousy way to lose,” Cassidy said after the game.
This three-game homestand was a test to see where the Bruins line up with some good teams. Last Thursday, they lost their 11th straight game to the Washington Capitals and Saturday’s setback was the seventh in a row to the Rangers.
Two games, one point.
Now it’s a back-to-back with Columbus (20-12-1) on Monday and then at lowly Buffalo Tuesday.
Cassidy said Sunday his two goalies — Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin — will each get a game but wouldn’t tell the media who will play which game. Rask is 7-3-1 with a 2.25 goals-against average and .918 save percentage against the Blue Jackets, dropping a 4-3 shootout decision in Columbus on Oct. 30.
Khudobin is 3-1-1 lifetime against the Blue Jackets.
Whoever starts Monday likely will face Sergei Bobrovsky, who will make his eighth straight start for the Jackets. The goalie and the team have struggled some, going 5-4-0 in their last nine. Bobrovsky and .886 save percentage in those seven straight starts.
He has a shutout in that span and was sharp in a 2-1 loss at Carolina Saturday night.
Bobrovsky is just 2-4-2 with a 3.28 goals-against average and .904 save percentage lifetime against the Bruins, but is 1-0-0 this season.
The Blue Jackets had 36 shots on goal Saturday but there weren’t enough rebounds to produce more than one goal.
“I don’t care how many shots are on the board,” coach John Tortorella said. “There’s probably one or two second chances. It’s a winnable game if we get some run support, and we don’t. We don’t generate enough, as far as rebounds.”
The Bruins, who got Ryan Spooner back from injury Saturday, are close to having defenseman Adam McQuaid, out with a broken leg, return. How close?
“I don’t know if Monday will be when he’ll be cleared, but he is close,” Cassidy said. “He is getting close. He has practiced with us, so it is imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact date.”
He hinted at a possible move to seven defensemen in some games when McQuaid returns.
“It will create competition — good competition,” the coach said.
McQuaid has been out almost two months.
“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously,” he said Sunday. “I’ve missed a lot of time, but it’s a process. I just try to approach it like I’m not getting my hopes up too much. We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. The more and more game-like situations you get in (can help).
“We haven’t gone too far down the road so I don’t know exactly (when I’ll return). I’m just out there trying to get closer, but I’m excited about where I’m at and the possibility of moving forward. It’s been fun watching the guys, but I can’t wait to get back in there and be part of a winning hockey team again.”
The Jackets, who will play their third straight game since losing veteran Brandon Dubinsky to a broken orbital bone in a fight, made roster moves Sunday. They summoned Sonny Milano and defenseman Cameron Gaunce from the minors and shipped out defenseman Gabriel Carlsson and Jordan Schroeder.