January is a notoriously cold and dreary time of season and it’s been a tough start to 2020 for the Boston Bruins as they’ve yet to replicate any production from an eventful 2019 calendar year.
While we are only two games into the new year, the Bruins have fallen victim both times at home by an aggregate 6-2 margin, and are in the midst of a three-game losing streak.
Although David Pastrnak came out of the gates early with a quick power-play goal to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the first period, the Edmonton Oilers dominated the remainder of the game, scoring four unanswered goals over the next two periods to give them the 4-1 victory.
Here’s what we learned in Boston’s 4-1 loss to Connor McDavid and company.
It’s time to clean up the basics
It’s no secret to fans, or to the players some of the problems that have been highlighted the past couple of games into Saturday. The Bruins desperately need to address and correct basic “Hockey 101” to return to their winning ways.
The sloppy passes, botched mechanics and frequent miscommunication in the neutral zone highlighted a head-scratching afternoon of mistakes.
One of those blunders came 7:41 into the second period when Edmonton native Jake DeBrusk whiffed on a pass in his own defensive end. Oilers forward Gaetan Haas took advantage of DeBrusk’s mistake and fired the puck past Jaroslav Halak to tie the game 1-1.
The second goal wasn’t much better, though it was more a matter of “puck luck” than anything else. Defenseman Darnell Nurse’s bad-angle shot found its way past Jaroslav Halak to give the Oilers the lead for good with just seven seconds left in the middle stanza and deflated a struggling Bruins’ squad in the process.
“I don’t even know how it went in, honestly, it hit my stick,” Halak said about Nurse’s go-ahead tally. “I thought it was right there, but I guess not. Hockey is a game of mistake. I made a mistake, it went in, and we lost the game. It’s simple math. I got outplayed tonight and that’s it.”
“It’s just the stretch we’re in right now,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy added. “You go through the opposite where nothing seems to faze you, and we went through that and came back every night it seemed in this building for a stretch. Right now, we’ve got to find a balance where we get the lead and play the right way, protect the lead. I think that’s how we play our best hockey.”
Special teams continue to drive the team in tough times
The Bruins entered the afternoon second in the league on the penalty kill and third on the power play. Despite their struggles in 5-on-5 play, they didn’t have many issues showcasing their special team’s prowess against Edmonton and its top-ranked power-play unit.
Against McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the plethora of weapons across the ice, the Bruins only held the Oilers to just one shot on net over two opportunities.
The Bruins haven’t allowed a power-play since Dec. 17 in their loss to the Kings. Their power play also extended their impressive streak after scoring in their tenth straight game — their longest streak since March of 1996 — on Pastrnak’s first-period tally.
The Bruins are moving forward amidst frustrations
The Bruins know about the peaks and valleys that come with a long 82-game regular season. While it’s easy for anyone to see the potential for frustration that can come with the slide in production and in wins, in order for the team to try and improve, they have to continue to move forward and fix issues they see along the way.
“At this time, I don’t think you can get frustrated — it’s the last thing you want to do,” Patrice Bergeron said regarding the lack of offense as of late. “It’s a tough league, and there are going to be times when these things happen. It’s about rolling up your sleeves and getting to the net.”
Charlie Coyle agreed, that while the setbacks may seem daunting, it’s the little things that are going to bring the B’s back up to where they should be.
“I think it starts with our sense of urgency, it’s got to be there right from the get-go and at least build in the right direction too,” Coyle said. “I think we’re playing kind of perimeter and passing up shots. Just little things, we each just have to play more simple.”
It sounds simple, yet we know snapping out of any funk is easier said than done.
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