What We Learned: Bruins Still Consistently Inconsistent But Always Resilient
BOSTON — If there’s one thing we were reminded of again in the Bruins 6-2 loss to the Ducks at TD Garden Tuesday, it’s that the Bruins are consistently inconsistent but always resilient. After a gritty 3-2 win at Philadelphia on Monday, the Bruins didn’t exactly come out flat against the Ducks Tuesday but they couldn’t match the energy and intensity the well-rested Ducks had for 60 minutes and are now heading into the all star break with a loss.
Zach Trotman scored his first goal of the season to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead 45 seconds into the game but the Ducks then answered with the next four goals and the Bruins never quite recovered. The Ducks got goals from six different players and goalie Frederik Andersen made 32 saves for the win. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara scored the other Bruins lamplighter.
Tuukka Rask had to relieve Bruins starter Jonas Gustavsson who exited after the first period and was taken to Mass General Hospital in Boston with what the team termed as an “illness”. Gustavsson stopped 14 of 16 first period shots and Rask finished with 19 saves on 22 shots faced. There were no further updates on Gustavsson after the game.
The team surely would’ve loved to complete the back-to-back set before the break with at least another point or better yet two, but they weren’t as bad as they could’ve been from playing on the road the night before.
“They have been here for three days waiting for us. They are big; they are a pretty heavy team; three lines deep with size and you know we had a good start in the first period,” head coach Claude Julien said. “The second period was probably the period that hurt us and you know then we’re down 4-1, we came out in the third period and I thought we competed.”
That was the general feeling amongst the players in the dressing room after the game. While they have been frustratingly inconsistent, the compete level for the most part has been there. Also, with the majority of the Eastern Conference teams also wildly inconsistent, the Bruins, to the surprise of many, find themselves in a playoff position at the break, in third place in the Atlantic Division.
“We’re in third now in the division, which is good,” forward Ryan Spooner said. “We’ve won five out of our last seven. So I mean, tonight, we would’ve liked to get the win, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t think that we played a bad game, I just think that the full 60 just wasn’t there tonight.”
But then Spooner was asked if there is one thing he feels him and his teammates can improve after the break?
“Consistency,” he immediately replied. “We go on, I guess, some stretches where we win five or six in a row, and then we lose three or four in a row, so we definitely need to change that. And our games at home, they haven’t been great. The last little bit they’ve been a little bit better, but as a whole, that definitely needs to improve.”
One thing the Bruins have been consistent with is their resilience. Trailing 4-1 heading into the third period of the last game before the all star break, it would’ve been natural for the Bruins players to coast through the final frame dreaming of palm trees and relaxation. But instead they cut the lead in half before Anaheim finally sealed it with two empty-netters. As Spooner pointed out, that resilient attitude has helped the Bruins prove plenty of naysayers wrong so far.
“I think at the beginning of the year, there were a lot of people that probably thought that we wouldn’t be in the playoffs,” Spooner said. “We kind of heard that kind of stuff, and that we would be a younger team. But I think we’ve shown that we can play with the top teams, and you know I think that we’ve proved a lot of people wrong, and we just have to keep that up.”
Spooner is right and the teams that keep it up on a consistent basis will be the ones that separate themselves from the pack in the playoff race. With the Eastern Conference standings so tight, there will be no room for those three or four game losing streaks that he referenced. Otherwise it could be another early golf season in Boston.
Spooner Earning Top Six Minutes
While his team overall has been inconsistent, Spooner himself has become a consistent player offensively. Since picking up the slack when David Krejci got injured just prior to the New Year, Spooner has begun to finally realize his potential and is now a regular in the Bruins top six forward group. With his assist on Chara’s third period goal, Spooner now has assists in four straight games and now has 15 points (2g; 13a) in his last 14 games. He is third on the team with 37 points.
‘Big Zee’ Chipping In Offenisvely
Chara followed up a two-assist night in Philadelphia Monday with a goal Tuesday and is starting to chip in more offensively. Chara — who at times this season has struggled to keep up with the speed of the game — appears to be compensating for some declining elements of his game with his hockey instincts. His third period goal Tuesday was a result of knowing when to jump into the play and while he isn’t always using his blistering slapshot, he hasn’t lost his accuracy at all, as witnessed on that snipe. Chara enters the break with 20 assists and 27 points.
Krug Not Afraid To Drop The Gloves
At 5’9, 186 pounds, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug isn’t one to usually drop the gloves but that doesn’t mean he won’t if he has to. Apparently when he does, he likes to challenge himself with bigger opponents too. In the first period, Krug picked a fight with Ducks forward Chris Stewart who has four inches on him at 6’2, and 45 pounds at 236. Krug not surprisingly lost, but held his own.
“I started it. He didn’t want to fight me,” Krug admitted. “It was a mismatch, but at the end of the day, I don’t know, I didn’t like what happened there and it got a little crazy. He’s done his fair share of fighting and he didn’t want to fight a guy like myself, but it happened and he said good job and that was that.”
Bruins After The Break
The Bruins will play three of their first four games after the break at home before heading out on a six-game road trip through mid-February. They play the Maple Leafs February 2; then have a home and home with the Sabres February 4 and 6, host the Kings February 9 and then head out on the road.