It getting to be like Groundhog’s Day here in Boston: another game for the Bruins and the same ol’ song and dance. Despite a tremendous effort (for a solid 40 minutes anyways) and outshooting their opponents for the sixth-consecutive game (42-26), the B’s dropped their eighth-straight to the Washington Capitals last night, 4-1.
But the boys in Black-and-Gold aren’t making any excuses; other than needing to find a way to find the back of the net. Over the last six games, the B’s have consecutively out-shot their opponents by a total of 201-146, and have had countless scoring opportunities to bury some pucks home and light the lamp. Unfortunately, the only numbers that really matter are the goals on the scoreboard and the amount points in the standings. During this six-game-span, the Bruins have slipped from fifth-place in the Eastern Conference to 12th – and have been outscored 19-8.
In the 2001-02 NHL season, Jose Theodore – who was playing for the Montreal Canadiens – took home the Vezina and Hart Memorial Trophies as the league’s best goaltender and most valuable player, respectively. Now playing for the Eastern Conference – and NHL – leaders, Washington Capitals, Theodore has taken over the No. 1 job since Seymon Varlamov has been sidelined after his last start on Dec. 7, (26 games) with a groin/lower-body injury. Theodore has played in 10 of the last 14 games, and backstopped the Capitals to a franchise-best 11th consecutive victory last night, stopping 41-of-42 shots that came his way.
Every game, as of late, it seems like there’s another soon-to-be Vezina Trophy winner that shows up against the Bruins.
“Is it that? Is it?” a disgruntled Blake Wheeler said when asked about the stellar goaltending at the other end of the ice.
“There’s one constant here and it’s the guys shooting the puck at the goalies. Every night it seems to be another guy standing on his head against us.” added Wheeler. “Throw 41 shots or whatever it was on net and maybe 21 of those were in right there in front of the crease. Great scoring scoring chances. What are you gonna say? Obviously we know we have guy here who can score and we’re not scoring. We’re not doing enough to win hockey games, and that’s what we’re here to do [is win].”
The Bruins’ line of Michael Ryder, David Krejci, and Wheeler showed an effort and performance similar to last season’s. The trio looked their best all year – accounting for 15 of the Bruins’ 42 shots on goal – and were clearly the best unit out there for the B’s last night. Krejci scored the Bruins lone-goal on a 5-on-3 power play to put the Bruins on the board first, but had plenty of other chances to add to the lead. He, like Wheeler, wasn’t all that impressed with the goaltending of Theodore, as they were more disappointed in themselves.
“I wouldn’t give him credit for as much as he did. We had forty-two shots. I don’t think he was that good to stop us. We got him to make mistakes, and we just couldn’t bury those chances. Those chances, usually we score those, but today we just couldn’t find the back of the net.” the soft-spoken Krejci said in the locker room, post-game. “Personally, I don’t think he was that unbelievable. I think it didn’t matter because we didn’t hit the back of the net.”
Boston’s best player last night, Krejci, was 13-for19 in the face-off circle, had a season-high seven shots on goal, and created a lot of plays to add to their one goal on the scoreboard. However, missed opportunities – including the penalty shot that Krejci wristed wide left of Theodore in the second period – to put the puck home was a problem once again for Boston last night, as it has been basically all season long.
“I think I create lots of chance for myself and a couple for my teammates. But like I said, the problem was we couldn’t score.” Krejci said. “I felt good, I had some chance and that’s what I’m supposed to do. But the second half of my job is to make sure the puck is going to end up in the net. That didn’t happen so I just did half of my job, and that’s not good enough.”
“We’re close. We know we’re not the worst offensive teams’ in the league as the stats show, but, we’re just having a tough time finding the back of the net.” Bruins’ forward Michael Ryder added on the lack of goal support. “We did a lot of good things tonight, we just came up a little short again. But we’ve got to find ways to win here.”
And sometimes a bouncing puck that goes your way from lady-luck is all a team needs to right the ship. Unfortunately, the Bruins haven’t had a taste of that in quite some time. The Bruins had 42 shots plus 12 blocked shots against them, a missed penalty shot, six power play opportunities (1-for-6), and two pucks off the crossbar. Zdeno Chara led the Bruins once again in total time on ice last night, 28:31, and is also looking for a lucky bounce.
“…he [Theodore] got a little help from the iron, but that is the way it is. Sometimes you need a little luck to win the game and right now, just a little bit of that is missing in our game.”