Brad Marchand and the Bruins were beaten and beaten up in a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday in Boston. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

BOSTON — Coach Jim Montgomery didn’t sugarcoat it or blame the nine-game layoff.

The Bruins were bad Tuesday night in a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames at home, and he said so.

“We weren’t good enough,” Montgomery said. “I don’t think it was us looking past the opponent, I just didn’t think we were good. Our effort was poor.”

Boston bore very little resemblance to the team that drubbed Philadelphia to close the first half of the season.

Bruins captain Brad Marchand, sporting a gash on his nose and a puffy lip courtesy of two sticks to the face, was even more blunt.

“We weren’t good in any area. Their compete level was a lot higher than ours. We figured we’d be a little bit rusty. We didn’t have the effort, unfortunately,” he said. “We never got to our game. They play hard. They were getting into a lot after whistles. They were running around and we didn’t push back enough to elevate to their level.”


Montgomery was hoping the first hit Marchand took, a cross-check to the bridge of his nose that led to a Calgary major penalty and Martin Pospisil being ejected, would anger his team into action.

“It didn’t happen,” Montgomery said.

Neither the coach nor the captain expectecd a dud after two solid practice days.

“A little surprised. We had two really good days of practice. I don’t know what happened tonight,” Marchand said. “We have to learn from it. We have a really good team coming here next game. We need to be prepared for it. We have to regroup and be better Thursday.”

Montgomery agreed.

“As a coach you always think your preparation was good but obviously it wasn’t good enough,” he said. “A lot of mental mistakes and a lot of physical mistakes. It was a lack of real good preparation, individually and collectively.”


Charlie McAvoy, whose frustration bubbled over into a roughing penalty and a misconduct in the third period, said he thought the Bruins didn’t compete enough when the game was in reach.

“First game out of break, we’ve got to be better,” he said. “They were extremely physical after the whistle tonight. I don’t think we tried to match that enough. Physical, mental, both. We weren’t good enough tonight. Practice didn’t translate. They outplayed us.”

McAvoy also stressed that the team can use this as a motivator and learn from it.

“Every single night in this league can be a humbling experience, so I don’t think I’m going to look too far into it, to be honest,” he said. “We’re back to playing games. We’re the first-place team in our conference. We’re going to get everyone’s best even more so than we did before.

“This is good. This is good for us to know what to expect from everybody. This is gone. First game out of break, I’m not going to dwell on it. There’s a lot of stuff we can work on. We know we’re nowhere close to a finished product. There’s always room for improvement. We’ll get better because of this.”

THE BRUINS GET tested quickly after Tuesday’s loss. Thursday night’s game pits the top team in each conference against each other as Boston (31-10-9) faces Vancouver (34-11-5), which has had a breakout season and boasts the NHL’s best record.

“It’s a good challenge,” Pavel Zacha said after the loss Tuesday night. “It’s another game we have to think about and be 100 percent ready. They’re a really good team, so I think we have to get excited for the challenge.”

The Canucks arrive on a 10-0-2 run. Their last regulation loss was over a month ago, to St. Louis on Jan. 4. They lead the league in goal differential (plus-60) and in goals (3.78 per game), and are second in goals against (2.54).

The Canucks have every right to feel good about themselves. Quinn Hughes is in the Norris Trophy hunt, Thatcher Demko is at the top of the Vezina conversation, Brock Boeser (30 goals) is rejuvenated, and the leading scorer, J.T. Miller (22 goals, 46 assists), might be playing some of his best hockey. In charge of it all is Rick Tocchet, the front-runner for the Jack Adams award as the coach of the year.

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