The ugly trends came back to bite the Boston Bruins in the rear end in the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ on Monday.
The starts, again, weren’t an issue in Monday’s loss to the Flyers. The Bruins, sparked by a secondary scoring outburst from David Krejci (twice), Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork along with David Pastrnak’s 36th of the season, looked primed for a fourth straight win sporting a 5-2 lead past the midway point of the second period.
Yet, the Bruins still looked a little shaky in the defensive end — despite the three-goal lead — for the first 30-plus minutes. Then they unraveled.
The layers in front of Jaroslav Halak didn’t blossom but rather deteriorated beginning at 13:12 of the second when Sean Couturier gained easy entry into the zone to tally his 13th goal of the season. A Connor Bunnaman tip-in for his first career goal just 1:34 latter cut the Bruins lead to one.
The Bruins failed to extend the one-goal lead in the third. Their leverage disappeared on a 4-on-4 breakdown leading to Travis Sanheim’s second of the night at 12:58 of the third.
In the end, the Bruins deserved their fate. And they capped it off in rather fitting fashion after Travis Konecny’s lone shootout goal and Brad Marchand’s blooper-real attempt during the glorified skills competition.
“We had no will to keep the puck out of our net on the last three goals. That’s been a staple of our team for years,” Bruins’ coach Bruce Cassidy told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley following their 5-4 loss. “Let’s hope it’s just a one-off because it was unprofessional the way we performed in front of the net for the last three goals.”
Here’s what we learned as Boston’s shootout struggles continued following their collapse at Wells Fargo Center.
Brad Marchand’s shootout gaffe exemplifies Boston’s lack of SO success
We’re just 13 days into 2020, and we may already have the most viral GIF of the sports season. It didn’t come on a marquee stage like the College Football Playoff title game, but rather a midseason tilt between the Broad St. Bullies and the Big Bad Bruins.
It’s a moment that Marchand will want to forget. But he’ll have to live with it for the rest of his career.
Marchand came to center ice in the fifth round of the shootout looking to extend things to Round 6. He strode toward the puck hoping to gain a little speed en route to his attempt. Instead, Marchand overskated the puck in one of the worst shootout attempts of all time to fitting cap off Boston’s second shootout loss of the season to Philadelphia.
“It’s unfortunate,” Marchand told reporters. “It’s a tough way to lose in a game like that, but we have to be better when we have the lead.”
Marchand’s blooper perfectly exemplifies Boston’s shootout woes. The Bruins, who dropped to 0-7 in shootout decisions, failed to light the lamp in five chances. They’re also a woeful 4-for-30 in shootout attempts this season.
Yes, they tallied a point, but the Bruins put themselves in this spot, to begin with. They have no one to blame but themselves as they now sit a point behind the Capitals — who earned a 2-0 win over the Hurricanes on Monday — for first place in the Eastern Conference.
The troubling trend with multi-goal leads
The Bruins prided themselves on closing out games in the third period, especially when leading by more than one goal. But they’ve deviated from that successful formula at times as Monday proved.
For all of their shootout woes, they’ve been saved with a lifeline after holding on to stay tied in regulation. Whether it’s blowing a 4-0 lead to the Panthers in early November or ending 2019 with a New Year’s Eve shootout loss to the lowly Devils after leading 2-0, the Bruins lacked a killer instinct when they needed it the most.
It’s hurting them in the standings, too. The Bruins could be sitting comfortably atop the East, yet could only settle on one lone point after relinquishing several multi-goal leads.
They won’t have to worry about the shootout come playoff time, but the Bruins need to close games out in these situations. The last thing they want to do is carry this trait into April.
Jaroslav Halak has looked shaky of late
Halak rarely had any defensive support in front of him, yet he hardly looked sharp against the Flyers.
The journeyman netminder made 34 saves in the losing effort. And yes Halak made some timely stops late in the third period and during the 3-on-3 overtime. But he hasn’t looked like the calm, cool and collected man between the pipes over the last three games.
Halak’s recent rough stretch began last week when he allowed three goals on 25 shots in the Bruins’ 4-1 loss to Connor McDavid and the Oilers. David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk bailed Halak out in his next start against the Winnipeg Jets — a 5-4 victory — after he allowed four goals on 21 shots.
The defensive breakdowns were more troublesome, but Halak didn’t do himself any favors either, especially after whiffing on Couturier’s second-period tally.
Halak, like any goalie or skater, isn’t immune to slumps. He encountered a similar rut around the same time last season after dropping five straight decisions from Jan. 10-Feb. 6, then won nine of his next 11 starts to close out the 2018-19 season.
The Bruins’ rode the dynamic tandem of Halak and Tuukka Rask to great success over the last year and a half. There’s no reason for them to deviate from that, especially given Halak’s track record to bounce back after a rough stretch however long it may be.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.