With efforts like last night, Bruins will be just fine
Arguably, the Boston Bruins put in one of their best efforts of the season in Anaheim on Monday night. But even with their best 60-minute effort of the season, the shorthanded B’s still fell short in a 3-2 loss to the Pacific Division leading Ducks at the start of the team’s four-game west coast trip.
The stats would show that the Bruins had the upper hand in a few categories: shots (34-28), faceoff wins (30-27) and zone time. The hits were even at 24 a piece but boy were they heavy.
There were some areas, though, where the stat sheet can be thrown away. Despite not scoring a goal on special teams, the Bruins had their chances on both the power play and penalty kill. Most notably, the B’s had five shots on their first power play – most of them were quality shots – while the also had quite a few scoring opportunities while shorthanded including a Daniel Paille breakaway and a 2-on-1 with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in the second period.
Yet on a night where they scored first (on Marchand’s tally at 10:20 of the second period, with David Pastrnak’s first NHL assist) and seemed to have everything going for them, they ran into a hot goalie in Frederick Andersen (32 saves), and a few mistakes wound up costly.
Late in the second with Carl Soderberg’s unit, Milan Lucic and Loui Eriksson had opportunities to clear the puck out of the zone after the Ducks’ biggest offensive surge of the night. After a couple of failed attempts, Cam Fowler settled the puck down and wristed a shot from the blue-line. With Tuukka Rask screened, Devante Smith-Pelly got the tip in while holding Matt Bartkowski’s stick in the process to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead.
Surely, the Bruins had every right to gripe over the missed call on Smith-Pelly holding Bartkowski’s stick. But, that doesn’t happen if Eriksson and/or Lucic clear the puck out of the zone.
“A couple of turnovers that you wish you had back,” head coach Claude Julien told reporters after the loss. “It’s just unfortunate that a few of those turnovers ended up in the back of our net.”
“He was holding my stick, but I have to find a way to get him out of there,” Bartkowski said to the media about Smith-Pelly holding his stick in the second period. “That’s just all it is. I got wrapped up after the fact for a second, but I then just forgot about it.”
That wound up to be the turning point as the Ducks earned an insurance goal with Matt Belesky’s tally in the third period – off a faceoff win. Simon Gagne broke an 18-game goal scoring drought and notched his 600th career point in the process, but the 60-minute was eventually overshadowed as the Black and Gold dropped to 14-10-1 on the season.
“The effort was there,” Julien said to the press. “Somewhere along the line, you got to get rewarded with those.”
Since the 2005-06 season, teams who are in the top eight in each conference by the end of Thanksgiving make the playoffs 77 percent of the time according to STATS Inc. Even with all their injuries, the Bruins would be one of the two wild card teams if the season ended today.
Whenever Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and the other injured players heal from their wounds, the Bruins will be more well-rounded from top to bottom. They still may run into some growing pains with some of the call-ups from Providence over the last month who are trying to earn a full-time spot in Boston, but with efforts like they had Monday night against the Ducks, the Black and Gold will be on the right end of the scoreboard more often than not.