MONTREAL – Having four days off between games, one would think the Boston Bruins would come into Thursday’s contest against the Montreal Canadiens as a well-rested team. Moreover, their opponent was playing their second of a back to back and third game in four nights, so the opportunity was there for the taking.
Unfortunately for the Black and Gold, it was not meant to be as they fell 2-1 and relinquished first place in the Atlantic Division to their hated rivals. Here are three takeaways from the loss.
Just 4:28 into the first, Johnny Boychuk was an unfortunate victim of a hit by Max Pacioretty. The Habs forward was called for cross-checking, but Boychuk laid motionless for several minutes before leaving the game on a stretcher.
Before arriving at Montreal General Hospital, General Manager Peter Chiarelli released a statement about Boychuk’s condition. And Bruins fans, at that moment breathed a sigh of relief.
“Johnny Boychuk has been taken to Montreal General Hospital for observation, after being injured in Thursday’s game against the Canadiens,” the statement read. “Before he was transported to the hospital, he was able to demonstrate movement in all of his extremities.”
While further details haven’t been released regarding Boychuk’s severity (likely a back injury), head coach Claude Julien confirmed that the 6-foot-2 defenseman will travel back with the Black and Gold.
Bruins skate with five defensemen, again
Boychuk’s absence meant that the team had to skate shorthanded on the back end for the remaining 55-plus minute. But that has been something the Bruins are quite used to. It was their third time in less than a month where Julien had to juggle his defensive pairings, in-game.
Immediately, that did not come back to haunt the Bruins as they outplayed Montreal for the first 20 minutes and took a 1-0 lead late in the first on Gregory Campbell’s second of the year. But several defensive breakdowns in the second period came back to bite them hard, and they fell short in the third, despite having several attempts to tie things up.
“Johnny is a big part of our team and a big part of our ‘D’ core,” Jarome Iginla said. “We still finished strong in the first period, but we didn’t follow that up in the second and we gave them life and they played very well in the second and held on in the third.”
With Adam McQuaid’s status uncertain for Saturday, and Boychuk’s severity yet to be revealed, Kevan Miller – called up on an emergency basis earlier this week – could very well see more action.
Second period miscues cost B’s
When Julien describes the second period as embarrassing, atrocious and unacceptable as he did in his postgame press conference, it becomes a good sound bite for the 11 pm news and the morning radio shows. When he says it in both english and french, that message is pretty clear.
That message was also echoed in the B’s locker room. And they aren’t pointing the finger, either.
“There’s no excuse for that,” Iginla said. “At that point, we’ve had a break and we should be energized and ready to go into it. It was definitely more mental [miscues] there in the second and we can’t play like that.”
With the Bruins scrambling around in their own zone, the Habs countered with a relentless attack with a 17-7 shots on goal advantage in the middle twenty. Eventually, the breakdowns caught up to the B’s.
Smelling blood, the Habs took advantage. Tomas Plekanec tied the game beating Tuukka Rask short side for his 10th of the season at 9:16 of the middle stanza. More than eight minutes later, a bad pinch by Dennis Seidenberg in the offensive end proved costly and Pacioretty took advantage with his 11th of the season firing through a shot through traffic and past Tuukka, who is now 2-9-2 lifetime against Montreal.
The Bruins had to play catch up for the last 22:18 of the contest. And now that they’ve fell to second place in the Atlantic, they’ll get to play catch up again starting with Saturday’s contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins.