It's not every day that Claude Julien thinks his hockey club played "brain-dead" defense. But that's exactly what the Bruins coach said about a hockey club that had gone into Thursday night ranked fourth in the NHL while allowing a paltry two goals per game, but they were scorched for seven goals in a 7-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. It was the most goals surrendered by a Julien-coached team since they lost an 8-2 decision to the Maple Leafs way back on March 6, 2008 when Phil Kessel was still wearing Black and Gold. Some of the defensive breakdown is certainly attributable to a red-hot Thomas Vanek, who finished with a hat trick and five points that were instrumental in dismantling the B's defense. It's no coincidence that Vanek has 28 career goals and 54 points in 46 games against Boston, and he's formed a dynamite combination with Jason Pominville while becoming the NHL's leading scorer. But, yes, the Bruins were also an abominable mess defensively. Zdeno Chara was on the ice for three of the goals scored by the Sabres, and finished with a minus-3 to go along with zero registered hits and three giveaways in a listless, invisible performance. It was the first time Chara was a minus-3 since a March 11 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last season when Evgeni Malkin and Co. toyed with the Bruins. More than once the 6-foot-9 defenseman was caught up ice or away from the net and Vanek had the puck with ample time and space to make plays, and that's a recipe for B's disaster.
'Brain-dead' defense sinks Bruins in loss
NBC Sports Boston | Feb 1