Flat Bruins disappointed at Winter Classic effort
FOXBOROUGH — Without the services of Brad Marchand (three-game suspension) and David Krejci (upper-body injury), the Bruins were already shorthanded entering Friday’s Winter Classic against the Montreal Canadiens. Without two of their leading scorers, who have a combined 61 points in 2015-16, the last thing the Black and Gold wanted to do was fall in a deep hole.
Unfortunately for the Bruins and their fans, that was exactly the case. From the time the puck dropped to the end of the final horn, the frustration mounted against their archrivals as the B’s fell 5-1 in front of an attendance of 67,246 at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s disappointing for sure,” 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara said as he faced the music with a hoard of local and national media during his postgame locker room session. “You know, we weren’t skating well, we weren’t moving the puck well, and the other end, they were doing everything that they were supposed to. For sure [it’s] very disappointing. It’s a big game and a big stage, and, you know, it’s a game where you want to have a good game and a good performance, and we didn’t.”
From the time David Desharnais opened the scoring just 1:14 in, the Bruins had to play catch up. The fact that they only fired three shots on goal during the opening 20 minutes didn’t help the cause. The only reason they were only down 1-0 was due to one person: Tuukka Rask.
While Rask did his part, the other 18 skaters couldn’t help him out as the Habs fourth line — thanks to Desharnais a pair of goals from Paul Byron — outplayed the Bruins bottom six consisted off Alex Khoklachev, Zac Rinaldo, Jimmy Hayes, Landon Ferraro, Max Talbot and Frank Vatrano entering Friday’s game. That and the duo of Max Pacioretty and a returning Brendan Gallagher — each with a goal and assist — kept the Bruins on their heels all afternoon.
“Very disappointed. Obviously, we wanted to come out harder and come out with more of a jump and move our legs more and have more of an attack going,” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “But we were never able to establish any offense, so that’s why we lost.”
A lucky bounce or a timely goal was something the Bruins could’ve used. They almost had one from Beleskey on a second period power play that would have gotten the Black and Gold within a goal. Instead, they fell behind, and the Habs scored late in the second period.
By the time Beleskey finally put the Bruins on the scoreboard at 3:56 of the third, they were behind by two. They played well and created some energy while getting the crowd back into the game for about a five-minute span.
But another breakdown in the neutral zone led to a 2-on-1 for Pacioretty and Gallagher, who put any hopes of a Bruins comeback to rest at 8:49 of the third.
Instead of establishing a temp, the Black and Gold were waiting around for something or someone to give them a spark. That did not happen in front of the largest outdoor hockey crowd in New England history.
“We looked like we were all waiting around for somebody to do something, and get us going,” said defenseman Torey Krug. “That’s not how we play.”
“Losing like that obviously takes the fun out of it, you know,” Rask added. “Too bad we couldn’t give the fans a little bit more to cheer for, you know.”
With a chance to take over first place in the Atlantic Division, a win on the NHL’s biggest regulation stage could have put the Bruins on an emotional high. Instead, they are left hitting the reset button and refocusing to the schedule in front of them.
That schedule doesn’t get any easier when they resume on Tuesday as they host the Washington Capitals. After that, they’ll enter a tough five-game road trip that begins a week from Friday in New Jersey Devils.
“A big game like that and a big game in the standings for us, and we have to be able to go,” said Jimmy Hayes, whose night ended in a tussle with Lars Eller late in the third period. “We came out flat, and they took advantage of it.”