For all of the Bruins miscues and lack of execution, things could have gone differently for them over the last two games.
On Wednesday night, Lee Stempniak was robbed of what would have been his second goal of the game after appearing to cut a Rangers lead to 3-2 after just narrowly beating Henrik Lundqvist. The Swede made the stop but not before the puck just narrowly crossed the line with Lundqvist’s glove covering the puck. The review up in Toronto deemed the play inconclusive. J.T. Miller scored minutes later to give his team a three-goal cushion in the third period.
One night later, Stempniak’s fellow linemate, Patrice Bergeron, got the short end of his review. From replay and still images, it looked evident enough that the puck crossed the line as Roberto Luongo was hugging the post. The review up in Toronto, however, relayed a similar result from Wednesday. In other words, in their mind, there was inconclusive evidence.
Claude Julien disagrees. He even had a text from another coach in the league afterwards that expressed the same opinion.
“I got another coach that texted me and it said ‘WTF, how can that not be a goal?'” Julien said after a night where he was honored with a pregame ceremony as the Bruins’ all-time winningest coach. “That’s coming from somebody who is neutral.”
Of all the 17,565 in attendance at TD Garden, Bergeron was the closest person to the action. In real time, it was anyone’s guess. Upon review, it was clear in his mind that he should’ve been credited with his 29th of the season to tie the game at 2-2 midway through the third period.
“Yeah, I mean it happened fast so I wasn’t a 100 percent sure that the puck completely passed the line [in real time],” said Bergeron, who was more upset than usual after the original no-goal call stood. “I mean, I think we all saw the replay, but at the same time they have rules [in Toronto], and I guess they went by it.”
The tide quickly turned against the Bruins. Instead of tying things after allowing two unanswered goals, the B’s crumbled. First, they got called for too many men. Shortly after the Panthers’ power play expired, Jussi Jokinen scored his 16th of the season at 10:56 of the third — nearly two minutes after Bergeron’s non-goal — to give his team a 3-1 lead.
“I think we tried to stay into it, you know, and then we take a too many men penalty, and they score,” Julien said.
“Like, we were determined to try and come back and tie it up again and… but there’s no doubt, you know, when you’ve got an opportunity here to get some life, some momentum, and you look at it and what you’re getting is feedback from you’re people it’s a goal and you’re just waiting for them to call it, and then they call it no goal. So it’s baffling, like I said, to say the least, and if they have a better system than we do and can see something different, we certainly don’t.”
Instead of thinking about how things could have been different, the Bruins have more adversity staring them in the face. For the first time since the 2009-10 season, they have lost five consecutive regulation games. With seven games left, they need to find a way to right the ship quickly. Otherwise, Boston will have another spring without postseason hockey.