It doesn't happen often.
One of those 'once in a blue moon' games for Boston happened again on Wednesday night, in a pre-Thanksgiving matchup with the Red Wings in Detroit. Jarome Iginla stopped the shutout bid with 2:25 left in the third period, after the Wings had taken a 6-0 lead.
Did they see this coming?
"No," Patrice Bergeron quickly responded. "It was pretty much everything we didn’t want to see out there."
The alternate captain is always diplomatic, and tells it to you straight. After a loss, there's even more conviction in his voice.
"We didn’t execute. Yeah, they played a good game but we pretty much handed it out to them."
"No disrespect to them but it wasn’t even close to playing our game, it wasn’t even close to executing. We left Tuuks out to dry most of the night and you definitely can’t win playing like that."
The Bruins got off to a slower start, but Detroit didn't necessarily come out firing on all cylinders, either. The shot count was only 3-1, in the Wings' favor, six minutes into the game.
Boston had back-to-back power plays they didn't convert on. The Wings got on the board first off a broken play, just 11 seconds after the second man-advantage had expired. After Johan Franzen's stick snapped streaking towards the goal mouth, the puck deflected right to Justin Abdelkader on the door step.
Trailing 1-0 heading into the second wasn't ideal, but the game hadn't pulled away from them yet.
"We’ve seen that before during previous games that we didn’t get the start that we want, but we still find ways to get back in the game and get a good shift and get momentum back," said Bergeron. "But tonight we didn’t do that."
In a span of 3:56 surrounding the midpoint of the second period, the Wings exploded for three straight goals on four shots.
Tomas Tatar found a seam between Tuukka Rask's skate and the post on a wraparound, Henrik Zetterberg picked the space just about Rask's glove, and Niklas Kronwall found space on the power play. All goals came in close.
"That’s why I called a timeout," said Julien, of the regroup. Those in the Spoked-B usually find a way to stay composed, no matter the game's tempo. But they were obviously frustrated.
"What I saw from our team was all of the sudden we started to really get away from our game and everybody was trying to do everybody else’s job and when you get to that stage, it just gets worse."
"We were flat all game and we did not get results anywhere close to getting us a chance to win," said Bergeron. "So obviously it’s the only thing we could expect out of this game, was to get spanked like that."
The Black & Gold were able to cause turnovers in the natural zone, but "never made them pay," as Julien put it.
Boston couldn't really generate any scoring chances. In the middle frame, they didn't necessarily give up a barrage of shots, but when coverage was lost, Detroit made sure to capitalize.
"Everything we did tonight was just disastrous," said Julien. "We dominated on faceoffs, that’s a positive, but I think the rest, from the back end to the front end…We just didn’t generate much."
"We let them play the game that they wanted to play, which was open and kind of an easy game," said Bergeron. "They have a lot of skill and we let them skate and have those easy passes."
The Wings went up 5-0 midway through the third, with a point-blank score from the top of the crease.
The Bruins hadn't given up more than four goals in a game this season. It had only happened twice, prior to Wednesday night. Nights don't often go this way for the entire team, let alone Rask.
"I try not to think that way," said the netminder, when asked if he even thought a game like this was possible. "As a goalie, I think you just try to be there every day and try to give your team a chance to win."
"But these games obviously happen sometimes and you just have to see what went wrong and try to fix it for the next one."
Julien tried to find a spark by juggling the lines to start the third. The top three combinations became: Reilly Smith-Patrice Bergeron-Jarome Iginla; Carl Soderberg-David Krejci-Loui Eriksson, Milan Lucic-Chris Kelly-Brad Marchand.
Those lines likely won't remain moving forward; the bench boss was using the "kitchen sink" approach.
"One of those things where it couldn’t get any worse," he said. "So you move them around, you hope you get something out of it and that was basically all I could do, because there was nobody that I could say right now that was really good for us tonight; nobody."
"That's something that’s Claude’s always going to do is try to get us going," said Bergeron. "Even with the lines, usually he’s able to get a little spark out of us but we had a couple shifts that we were in their zone but not even close to being good enough."
"Whether it’s for the future or not, tonight was just because it couldn’t get any worse," added Julien.
While the Bruins had won eight of their past 10 games and had put up an 8-2-2 record in November, they weren't feeling fully satisfied with their game.
"We talked about that actually. We said, let’s not kid ourselves here, we have to be better," said Julien, who had summoned his group for lengthy chats at times during their pregame skate that morning in Detroit.
"At the same time, you’re not in first place because you’re playing so bad -- and I just find that right now, every little thing that goes wrong is being criticized. I know we’re not at our best and I want to make sure we’re at our best when you have to be at your best."
"And I always say, the team that peaks at the right time in this league, because of parity, is the team that’s going to get the better chance."
"That’s not to excuse our guys because this is not something that can be excused tonight; this is unacceptable. At the same time, I think it’s just a matter of we’ve got to get back to basics."
Julien is looking for a much better attack, with all-around production, and more determination towards the net. When the Bruins drive the goal, and don't stick to the perimeter or try criss-crossing, they find success.
"Every once in a while during the season you get a game like that, and you always hope that as a coach that it kind of wakes your team up a little bit and maybe a little jolt like that will hopefully help us get better here."
No hope needed. Point already taken by the Bruins.
"It’s frustrating. We didn’t come here to lose 6-1," Reilly Smith remarked postgame. "It’s embarrassing for our team. And we have to come out next game and show that we've got a short memory and bounce back from it."
The good news? With a team that's had only two five-goal losses in a span of three seasons, the odds of a game like this one in Detroit happening again soon are slim.
"It’s obviously a wakeup call and we have enough experience in this room to realize that, and we definitely have to be better," said Bergeron. "That’s too obvious. This is not typical, it’s not us."
The Bruins will have Thanksgiving practice together before Friday's matinee at TD Garden against the New York Rangers.
"We have to get back tomorrow and talk about it and you have to learn from it, but at the same time, you have to make sure you don’t get burned again."