Opportunity missed, but not lost for Bruins
Whether it’s Game No. 1 or Game No. 82, opportunities will come and go for chances to climb further in the standings. The Bruins entered Game No. 33 with a chance to jump the Montreal Canadiens in the standings with a win over the Blues and a Habs loss to the Wild.
On this night, an opportunity was lost for the Bruins against a St. Louis team that came into Tuesday’s matchup having blown a three-goal lead to the Flyers 24 hours prior.
“It would’ve been really nice to go into the break here with that spot, but it didn’t happen,” said Brad Marchand after the B’s 2-0 loss in their final game before the NHL’s holiday break. “We still have some games in hand, and hopefully we can continue to play well after Christmas and get those points.”
The Black and Gold knew that a game against St. Louis was a good measuring stick to see where they stood against one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Through two periods, they were even with a team that also prides itself on physicality, a good offense, solid defense and stout goaltending.
Then the third period came with the Blues upping their tempo that the Bruins simply could not match. A defensive breakdown by Dennis Seidenberg and Colin Miller led to Vladimir Tarasenko scoring his 22nd of the season on a breakaway at 7:35. Over five minutes later, Robby Fabbri beat Tuukka Rask with a snipe on the far side post to put the dagger on the Black and Gold’s chances.
“Well, I mean, measuring stick – we were playing a pretty good team, and we could see how we fared against some of those teams. I thought for two periods we were fine,” summed head coach Claude Julien after seeing his squad suffer their first shutout loss of the season. “After two periods, I thought it’s a pretty even game — a chess match. They got a break there with their most dangerous guy on a breakaway, [Vladimir] Tarasenko, opened up the scoring, and that was probably the thing that stung the most.”
From using the Blues as a measuring stick to learning from their mistakes, Tuesday proved to provide the Bruins with a reality check on not looking too far forward or too far behind — and that’s not a bad thing.
“The first half of the season at times felt like it was flying by and at other times it felt like it was taking forever,” said Torey Krug.
“It’s a rollercoaster for sure, and in this league, you need to make sure that you’re staying level headed. At times, it’s not going to be pretty and we’re not going to be playing well, and we just need to make sure that we respond to that. And at [other] times we’re going to be playing great, and we need to make sure that we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves. So it’s just about making sure maintaining the correct emotions throughout the season, and it’s a good lesson to learn in the first half.”
Not all was lost for the Black and Gold as they stayed within a point of the Habs after they dropped their fifth straight game in Minnesota.
First place will be on the line again when the B’s come out of the holiday break on Saturday and host an improved Buffalo Sabres squad at TD Garden. Meanwhile, their rivals and Winter Classic opponent from up north head to the nations capital to face the Eastern Conference leading Washington Capitals. By that point, Seidenberg and company hope to learn from the lessons — both positive and negative — from Tuesday’s outcome.
“I guess the message is don’t dwell on this loss too long,” said the German defenseman. “Take these three days off and come back hungry, and keep building on what we’ve built these last couple months and just keep being hungry and playing consistent hockey.