For two periods, the Bruins relentless effort was on full display. That effort didn’t show up in the first 20 minutes, however, and the Kings poached on the opportunity.
Desperate to salvage the road trip with two points, the Bruins, despite several scoring chances, couldn’t solve Jonathan Quick and were ultimately burned by a slow start where they outmatched by a talented Kings squad. That came back to haunt them after a late first period tip-in from Tanner Pearson and an early second period tally from Alec Martinez en route to their 2-1 loss on Saturday night in Los Angeles.
“I wasn’t happy with that first period. As much as it was a 1-0 game, we needed to be a lot better than we had been,” head coach Claude Julien told the press during his postgame media session at the Staples Center. “Had we pushed in the first period the way we did in the second and third period, we might have had a different outcome.”
A different outcome that could’ve had the Bruins sitting in second place in the Atlantic Division. But with the Lightning’s win over the Coyotes, they now sit in third, while the Kings became the second team to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after failing to make the second season in 2014-15.
Here are a few things that we learned as the Bruins dropped to 0-6 versus the California NHL franchises.
Lessons learned on the trip
Prior to their California trip, the Bruins were sitting in first place in the Atlantic. Wins over the Panthers, Lightning, Islanders and the defending champion Blackhawks gave their fans a slight reason for optimism heading into this difficult three-game stretch.
The Bruins didn’t play all that poorly on the trip. They had a decent start against the Sharks only to relinquish a 2-1 lead in San Jose — the most winnable game out west. They got off to a slow start in both of their games in So. Cal and couldn’t overcome their first period woes.
After making a big step forward, the Bruins have taken a couple of steps back. Instead of creating separation and staying in the Atlantic’s top two spots, they find themselves ahead of the fourth place Red Wings (who have a game in hand) by three points. The Flyers, the East’s ninth place team, trail the Black and Gold by six points with three games in hand.
“At the end we came away empty handed, and that’s not what we came here for,” Julien assessed on the road trip.
Perhaps the silver lining in all of this with nine games left in the 2015-16 regular season? The Bruins know that a full 60-minute effort is needed the rest of the way. Otherwise, the TD Garden may have another season without playoff hockey.
“It’s coming to a point where we really have to realize that the way we played the last two periods [against the Kings] is the way we have to play for 60 minutes for every game from here on in,” Tuukka Rask said to the press. “Obviously zero points is disappointing, but we can’t just looking at that, I guess, and put your head down. But we really, really have to focus on a 60-minute game from here on in.”
Tyler Randell providing energy; earning a spot in the lineup
For a guy who hadn’t skated in a Bruins uniform for a month, Tyler Randell is making the most of his latest opportunity on the fourth line. After notching a season-high 11:37 time on ice against Anaheim, Randell followed up 24 hours later with a goal on a great feed from Noel Acciari to give the Black and Gold a much-needed lift just 3:06 after Martinez’s second period tally.
With new found energy, the Bruins carried the momentum for a good chunk of the game following the Randell tally. Despite the relentless puck pursuit and their good physical play, they could not get the equalizer.
“We got back to playing our game and really focused on not turning pucks over and pushing our pace on them, and when we did that, our game came out,” Brad Marchand told reporters about the momentum following Randell’s sixth of the season. “We played great in the second and third, but it’s unfortunate that we lost.”