As the old adage says: a win is a win. And a win is what the Boston Bruins needed.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, either. As a matter of fact, it was pretty much a snoozefest for the majority of the 60 minutes.
Nonetheless, with Sunday’s 3-0 victory over the Florida Panthers at the TD Garden, the Black and Gold accomplished three things: they snapped their four-game losing streak (0-3-1), earned a little momentum heading into the last four games of the 2013 season, and for the time being regained the Northeast Division lead.
“It’s good to get back into the win column here,” said goaltender Tuukka Rask, who made 28 saves for his fourth shutout of the season. “It was a pretty good game for us, so it’s good thing to build on that.”
Like Saturday’s loss, the chances were there for the Bruins as they outshot the Panthers 39-28 that included a second period barrage where they tallied 21 shots towards Jacob Markstrom (36 saves). Despite the domination, they only found the back of the net three times. Jaromir Jagr opened the scoring with his second goal as a Bruin – and 16th of the season – 3:03 into the contest on a nice wrister, while Dougie Hamilton scored his fifth at 13:33 and Brad Marchand added his 18th of the year on an empty netter later in the third.
The execution isn’t perfect still, but the B’s will take it as they slowly try to find their groove again.
Today was another example of the Bruins being in a tale of two seasons. Everything seemed to have clicked during the first two months of the shortened campaign from the physicality to the execution and the goaltending. It was one of the reasons why some pundits pegged them as one of the favorites to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.
But that all seemed to go wayside during the last two months as they lost their identity. Some of that could potentially be attributed to the injury bug they encountered and the new pieces that were added, including Jagr and Carl Soderberg, over that span.
Still, despite the ugly win, Claude Julien is seeing some positives.
“It’s always nice to see you come out of a game where it’s 5-0, 6-0 or 7-0, but at the end of the day, it’s how hard you play and what you get and what you give them,” said the Bruins bench boss. “I thought we were again a physical team, we won a lot of battles, we had a lot of great chances.
“We did a pretty good job and controlled our shifts and changes, all the little things we have to do, those little things that have to get better.”
With four games left in the last seven days of the season, including a back-to-back against the Southeast Division leading Washington Capitals and a potential playoff opponent in the Ottawa Senators, the Bruins hope to keep the identity. They’ll still need to work on the little things, but they can certainly build off Sunday’s result, and even Saturday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s been a lot better for sure, and I think that’s the focus,” said defenseman Andrew Ference. “I don’t know where exactly we did, but we really turned a corner when you start not just focusing on the results, but you focus on the product and how we’re playing and working towards things and kind of have a bigger picture in mind of what we’re gearing up for, so it’s going in the right direction for sure.”