The Boston Bruins entered their two-game Canadian road trip with a five-game winning streak. They weren’t playing their best hockey by any means in that span, but they kept their head above water thanks to a favorable schedule.
That first game of the road trip saw the Bruins fail their first real test with Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Kevan Miller out of the lineup as Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs skated circles in front of the Black and Gold in their 6-1 victory. The only silver lining, perhaps, was that the B’s had a quick turnaround as they left in the wee hours of the morning for Montreal prior to another contest with the hated Canadiens.
Less than 24 hours after their debacle in Toronto, the Bruins came out with a good response. They skated hard, created some chances and got a 1-0 lead after the first 20 minutes thanks to Dougie Hamilton’s power play goal at 16:04 of the first period.
That’s the only spark the Bruins provided all night. The Canadiens, who have performed well in the second and third periods, got under the skins of their archrivals starting with a three-goal second period.
The avalanche of gloom and doom started with Dale Weise’s penalty shot goal and got worse with Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg having their worst game as a unit. The duo was on the ice for three of the Habs’ five goals, including Lars Eller’s go ahead goal at 13:00 of the second period where both Hamilton and Seidenberg were caught behind the net after the B’s coughed up the puck in their defensive end.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the numbers were pretty telling from the middle 20. The Bruins were outshot 16-5 in that span, lost 15 of 23 draws from the faceoff circle, and couldn’t keep out of the penalty box.
All in all it was part of a frustrating night, in another frustrating game in a Canadian city.
“The most frustrating thing with our hockey club is our inability to sustain our game,” head coach Claude Julien said to NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley after the Bruins’ 5-1 loss. “The first period went exactly the way we wanted. I thought we played smart in outnumbered situations and thought our guys were forechecking well – a lot of good things were happening. And then all of the sudden it takes one mistake in the second period and we just fell apart and we couldn’t sustain our game. It just got worse from then on.”
Thursday’s game was another example of the Bruins failing to overcome adversity. Beyond their performance(s), the Black and Gold simply stopped skating with energy and seemed disinterested after being overwhelmed.
There’s no denying that the Bruins are missing Chara and Krejci’s leadership. And for sure they are sorely missing Johnny Boychuk on the back end. But the team’s poor play over the last two days far trumps any logical excuse put in front of them.
The Black and Gold had a chance to shine without their leader with their biggest test without key players. Instead, they return home for another quick turnaround against a resurgent Carolina Hurricanes squad in a Saturday matinee at TD Garden.
The Bruins won’t have Chara back for Saturday’s game and they may be without Krejci and Miller as well. But even when they all return, the B’s will need to dig deep from within to find their game and perhaps their pride.
Things are certainly not so rosy right now on Causeway Street. But after this weekend, things may be pale when they are faced with tests against more high-profile teams down the road.