The Bruins continue to do their best to not make the playoffs by putting forth a largely underwhelming performance tonight.  The Carolina Hurricanes/AHL Checkers just came into Boston and won 2-1 in a shootout on local boy Noah Hanifin’s beautiful backhand goal.  Brad Marchand, who’s tied for 5th in goals in the entire NHL, was not selected by coach Julien to shoot in the shootout.

It just felt like this was going to happen.  I was just too scared to say it.  My gut felt the Bruins wouldn’t show up tonight but my heart was just too into them finishing off this playoff push.  Now the damn thing is out of their hands.

But this Bruins team has stunk up the joint against some of the NHL’s worst all season long.  It never should have gotten to that point to begin with.  With the pressure at it’s highest it appears this is who this team really is.

Loui Eriksson had the lone regulation goal for the Bruins.

Here is 3 Thoughts from the game:

1) Energy and Desperation Were Not There

Not being ready to go is probably the most frustrating part of tonight’s game.  How can you come out flat against a non-playoff team, at home, when your playoff lives are on the line?  It was a huge disappointment.  The Garden was dead, the play on the ice was dead, and Cam Ward’s chest protector got a fantastic workout because every shot on net appeared to be dead center body.  Going the extra mile was not on the agenda tonight, no sir.  Until the third period….

Thanks to what was arguably the worst line change I’ve seen since my pee-wee hockey days, Loui Eriksson was gifted a breakaway on Cam Ward and finished with a sweet forehand tuck.  That sparked life into the Bruins as they carried a lot of the third period play and found confidence.  But it was too late after chasing the lead for 40+ minutes.

It’s really too bad too because after the trade deadline the Bruins came out guns blazing against high end teams and looked brilliant in what is a completely wide open Eastern Conference.  They ripped off a 5-0-2 run and threw themselves into 1st place in the Atlantic Division.  Yes, that team you saw tonight was a division leader just a few short weeks ago.  Now it’s a distant memory and who knows if they have the effort in them to get into the post season.

2) The Extra Point is on Claude

Why was Brad Marchand not part of the shootout?  I don’t get it.  I guess I kinda get the thinking behind the first three choices.  Spooner and Pastrnak are two of Boston’s more offensively skilled players, but Brad Marchand IS the Bruins leading goal scorer.  Also, Marchand is probably their most crafty player and has scored piles of goals on breakaways (including an overtime penalty shot against Pittsburgh earlier this season).

I get that they keep track of the shootouts in practice, and which players are the best at it, but time and time again Marchand comes through in the clutch for this team regardless of the period, score, or scenario.  And not just this season.  During Marchand’s career he has been clutch.  Just look at moments like game 7 in the 2011 Stanley Cup final.  The guy posted 3 points in that 4-0 Cup clincher.  So when the season is on the line and Claude chooses Torey Krug instead of Marchand in the 5th round of the shootout instead of the guy tied for 5th in the league in goals scored, it’s a head scratcher.  It just makes no sense and it borders on stupidity.

3) Bruins Need Help To Make Playoffs

Well it went from the Bruins having control of their playoff destiny to now needing help.  With Boston picking up just a single point tonight they now have 91 on the season.  That ties them with Philadelphia for a wild card spot, and ties them with Detroit in the Atlantic Division.

The dream scenario is the Flyers, who play Detroit tomorrow night, beat the Red Wings in regulation.  Then Thursday night the Bruins beat Detroit as well to nearly finish them off.

But as we all know, who the hell knows?

Philadelphia has 4 games left and are in the most comfortable position of the three teams.  Boston only has 2 games left and Detroit has 3 games left.  That is why a severe gang beating of Detroit by the Flyers and B’s is the best path to the playoffs.  And we can all thank shootout losses like tonight (and an overtime loss last month) to Carolina, and a bad loss in regulation to New Jersey last week, for the reason this worst case scenario even exists.

Time for another whisky.

See you all Thursday.