I could call in sick tomorrow after reading the box score of that one. The Boston Bruins out-shot the New Jersey Devils by 40-15 margin tonight and still lost 2-1. Not enough Crown Royal was in my house tonight to stomach that. It was tough to watch go down. Most of the game featured the Bruins dominating the offensive zone and generating plenty of scoring chances but career backup Keith Kinkaid set his own personal best with a 39 save performance to spoil the B’s night. Brad Marchand did score a highlight reel goal to notch his 35th of the season. So we can now expect the streaky winger to bury 5-in-5 to finish the season with 40 bangers.
Here are BostonPucks.com 3 Thoughts from the game:
1) Playoff Hockey Is Already Here
There was definitely a playoff atmosphere tonight in this one. And it had nothing to do with the partially full, half asleep arena in New Jersey. It was all on the ice. The hitting was full tilt, the pace was fantastic, and you could see the Bruins playing with an urgency that was needed. The Bruins had 5 odd-man rushes in the first period alone (without success) and the Krejci line was buzzing early as well. It was a engaged back and forth style of play that lasted throughout the game.
What made it a battle was although New Jersey looked like they were hanging on most of the game, they never seemed disengaged or just sitting there taking it. They too, when the opportunity arose, had jump in their step and by all the physicality in their game (23 team hits, including a couple big ones by Bobby Farnham) were enjoying being the spoiler.
Everything about this game oozed playoff energy. But I’m not convinced the Bruins had enough desperation to really test Kinkaid enough. Too many times their point shots didn’t get through or went well wide. Chances in tight never really seemed to pull you off your seat as the sticks were gripped pretty tight up and down the lineup. Even on the multiple odd-man rushes mentioned before the Bruins never really looked fluid or locked in. They had the energy, it looked good, but it wasn’t enough. And now they’re in trouble.
2) Bruins Goal Scoring Drought Came At The Wrong Time
No other way to put it, the Bruins current goal scoring drought couldn’t have come at a worse time. After the trade deadline the team went on a tear. They ripped off an impressive 5-0-2 stretch against some really high end, premiere teams. In that stretch they put up 18 goals. In their recent 1-6-0 run? They’ve only scored 10 goals. It goes hand in hand with my previous thought that even though the energy and urgency was there tonight, it also felt like a team that’s having trouble scoring. There was a look of tightness in their scoring chances (see Matt Beleskey’s 3rd period tap-in opportunity) that prevented the finish. And it’s created a scary situation that they’ve put themselves in.
So now they’re in the same situation AGAIN as last year where they are allowing other teams the opportunity to determine whether they make the playoffs or not. The Flyers are firing on all cylinders. The Detroit Red Wings want to screw up as bad as the Bruins by pissing away tonight’s game against the Habs but they may actually still find a way in. And at this point who knows what the hell the Islanders are doing. It’s a shitty situation the Bruins have created for themselves. Just winning two more games during this last horrible stretch would put them at 92 points and much further out of harms way.
Some one better start finding the back of the net soon.
3) It Doesn’t Get Any Easier
Next up, the St. Louis Blues. Yes, that’s the team that up until tonight hadn’t allowed a goal in 258 straight minutes going back to March 16th. Then the Bruins will face-off against the Chicago Blackhawks. Ever hear of them? They’ve been in the league awhile now and win hockey games every so often too. Follow that up with Carolina, Detroit, and Ottawa and the Bruins could easily go 2-3 or 1-4 and completely be out of it by this time next week. The final 5 games all fall within 9 days. It’s that kind of tough scheduling that make all those wasted points (tonight, and Buffalo, Edmonton, and Vancouver earlier in the year) so damn frustrating.
This stretch will also complete the script on the Loui Eriksson, Lee Stempniak, and John-Michael Liles trade deadline day. At that time the brass felt the Eastern Conference was (and is) wide open and that the playoffs were going to happen. Aging players came in, draft picks went out, and the biggest tradable asset available to any team went nowhere. The Bruins were going to be participants.
These remaining 5 games will put Don Sweeney and Cam Neely’s Foxwoods mentality to the test.
See you animals Friday night against the Blues. All hands on deck.