Cellar dwellers having their way with Bruins at TD Garden
TD Garden is supposed to be a house of horrors for opposing teams, but over the course of the past two seasons, it’s been more of a fun house for visiting clubs.
The Bruins entered Tuesday’s contest with the New York Islanders with just eight wins on home ice, eighth fewest in all the National Hockey League. As poor as they have been on Garden ice, the Bruins are developing an even worse habit.
After Tuesday’s loss to the Islanders, the Bruins have lost their last three home contests against teams in the bottom two of their respective divisions. The Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders have all come into Boston in the last two weeks and walked out with two easy points. Sandwiched in between those contests are a loss to the Anaheim Ducks and Sunday’s 1-0 shutout of the L.A. Kings.
As they continue to battle for playoff position in the Atlantic Division, which seems like their best chance at a postseason berth, the Bruins know that these points against the cellar dwellers of the NHL are must haves.
As was the case in their loses against the Avalanche and Maple Leafs, all the numbers favored the Bruins. The Islanders carried a five-game losing streak into TD Garden but on Tuesday, didn’t look like a team who has had issues picking up wins.
All the Bruins needed to do was execute in their games against the bottom feeders of the NHL. Instead, the Bruins find themselves with just two of a possible 10 points in their last five home games.
Trailing 3-0 after two periods and with Tuukka Rask on the bench after being pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on 13 shots, the Bruins came out buzzing in the third period against old friends Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg, but their efforts came up just short.
Anton Blidh’s first career NHL goal and Dominc Moore’s eighth of the season cut the Islanders lead to one with more than half the period to go, but with Kevan Miller in the box for tripping, Anders Lee sealed the win with his second tally of the night.
One can argue the third period was the Bruins best despite the losing effort, but one good period is not close to enough to win in this league, even against some of the worst the NHL has to offer. The Bruins had a season-high 50 shots in the loss Tuesday night.
“When you can’t get goals, it’s hard on everyone. When you’re putting up 50 shots, you should get more than two,” said Austin Czarnik, who saw some time on the Bruins’ top line alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron Tuesday night. “But, I think defensively we weren’t the best either. So, it doesn’t really help us out. Both ends of the ice, we aren’t doing enough right now; at least tonight. We just need to work on it.”
“Yeah, obviously, we got behind the eight-ball early. I thought in the third period we got on our toes a bit more, played a little more aggressively and created a ton of chances,” said Moore who is now third on the Bruins in goals, one behind Marchand’s nine. “Hopefully that’s something we can take stock of and bring into going forward, we need to play.”
Thankfully for the Bruins, they hit the road for their next four games with stops in Florida, Carolina, Columbus and Buffalo. After that, the Bruins return to TD Garden to complete their home-and-home with the Sabres, a team that currently sits second to last in the Atlantic, and shouldn’t be far from that spot come their New Year’s Eve matinée.
With the NHL’s holiday break dividing their four-game trip, the Bruins hope to build some momentum away from Causeway Street before returning home for the final time in 2016.
“Well yeah, we have two games here before the break, and we want to go in there, you know, hopefully with two wins, so we have to make sure that, you know, we leave it all out there,” Marchand said following the loss.
“We get a few days off to rest up and, you know, we have to make sure we continue to get points. Everything’s very close right now, so we have to continue to climb.”