We all procrastinate. Every single one of us. We stare at the lawn hoping it cuts itself. We check the sun through the window hoping it’ll melt that snow we don’t want to shovel. We wait to fill our gas tank by riding the fumes on E until the last quarter mile. So don’t lie and try to convince me otherwise. Even the Bruins wait around until the third period and beyond to do what was needed so far this week.
Before they faced off against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday I outlined a few concerns I had going into the game. Like David Backes, Jimmy Hayes (duh), the lack of a backup goalie win, the D without Big Z, and of course an offense that belongs on a milk carton. And Tuesday in Philly, just like against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, it looked like I might not get any answers to my concerns. But just when I thought the Bruins couldn’t get any dumber, they go and do something like this:
And totally redeem themselves.
So now looking back at those two games and the progress the Bruins made on my list of concerns I’ll quote Bon Jovi and say they’re not living on a prayer, but they are halfway there.
Both games were almost near disasters. Against the Flyers the Bruins played inspired. They fought, they clawed, they competed, and stuck up for each other. And they did it all through a complete shit storm of horrendous officiating. If you had told me ex-NFL replacement refs were officiating that game I would have believed you. It was atrocious. But the B’s persevered. They threw everything at the Flyers in battling back from a 2-0 deficit with two third period goals to tie it, doing just enough late work to get the game to overtime to grab a point.
And as good as the Flyer’s Steve Mason was in net in regulation and overtime, to me he looked like a man overboard in the shootout. Unfortunately the Bruins gripped their sticks even tighter than Mason did his own, and bailed him out. The B’s had him completely dead to rights multiple times and let him off the hook.
Like here. If you look close enough you’ll see Mason’s jockstrap about ten rows up:
And here, where he bites on Jimmy Hayes and is lost by the hash marks:
Oh, and also here. Mason loses his angle badly and Krug sees it. But even Danny Boy is still hearing that pipe calling from the glen to glen and down the mountainside:
It just wasn’t meant to be.
Fast forward to Thursday and you wondered if the hangover from missed opportunities in Philadelphia was biting the Bruins against Carolina because it was a terrible showing early on for the Black n’ Gold. Watching it you would have thought they were participating in a leisurely skate with season ticket holders rather than engaged in an actual NHL game. Fortunately Claude went with the classic “ripped them a new one” locker room speech after a sleepy second period. And by the grace of Teuvo Terravainen-Pele’s own goal the Bruins took advantage and grabbed a shootout victory on a filthy move by David Pastrnak. In fact, it was the exact same move he put on Steve Mason two nights earlier:
What should have been two games resulting in only getting 1 out of 4 possible points turned into the Bruins showing up very late and snatching 3 out of 4 points. Yes, we all procrastinate until the last minute. Even our favorite hockey team.
And here’s how they polished my list of concerns in the process:
- David Backes. I was worried about his production. Even though he got the game saving goal against the Canes in the waning seconds, I’m still a bit concerned. But calling that tying goal huge is an understatement. No one gets that timely goal on last years edition of the Bruins. He can temper some of my concerns with his offensive production if that limited production is timely. And that certainly was.
- Jimmy Hayes. I know. He is what he is. But when he had the game on his stick in the shootout against the Flyers with an opportunity for heroics, I actually thought he was going to end it. I really did. In an isolated situation like a shootout attempt he does have a dangerously long reach for breakaways and his mitts got Mason to bite. But, he flubbed the finish. Go ahead and laugh at me for believing in him in that moment. I did. Some say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.
- Can a goalie not named “Tuukka Rask” get a win? Yes. Anton Khudobin was money against the Canes while the B’s were sleepwalking in front of him. He was money after they woke up too. He had multiple breakaway stops, not counting his fantastic shootout performance, and deserved the win. Kudos to Khudo for answering the bell.
- The D without Z. They were solid for a Chara-less group. They had a few super scaries during the Flyers game, especially in the first period with some Pee-Wee-esque giveaways and bad breakouts but they settled into it. Again, without a Chara or any other top tier guy you have to live with what it is. Overall, they were just good enough.
- The lack of offense. It’s still missing. The Bruins as a team have 57 goals through 24 games this season. Last year they had 79 goals through 24 games. That’s a huge difference. And I won’t begin to analyze why the Marchand’s, Bergy’s, and Krejci’s are bone dry. I certainly wasn’t an NHL caliber player with the pressure of obnoxious fans and six-figure paychecks. But I was a goal scorer at every level I played through college. It was my role. And I can say when you’re on, you’re on. When you’re not, who knows why. It’s a rhythm, groove, or feel that can be as highly contagious to a team as losing is. Sometimes that bug just goes away. It’ll come back at some point but for now the Bruins have to grind through it. Fortunately this week their current low output was still just enough at times.
Today, Jack Eichel looks to pour his offensive nightmare fuel on the Bruins dreams at 1pm in Buffalo. Personally it wouldn’t shock me if the B’s broke through today and lit the Sabres lamp for 4 or 5 g’s. I know Buffalo has been playing well as of late, going 4-1-1 in their last 6, but Tuukka will be going in net and a divisional Saturday matinee is the perfect trap scneario for a Sabre defense and Robin Lehner to be a little leaky.
So I’ll put Marchand and Czarnik down for goals today. You guys can pick the other scorers and let’s all enjoy a few pre-sunset cocktails while watching the game.