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  • What we learned: Coyotes ice Bruins

    Tim Rosenthal December 10, 2022

    The Boston Bruins thought they’d take care of business against the lowly Arizona Coyotes. But Arizona Coyotes Karel Vejlmeka prevented any plans of the Bruins briefly celebrating another two points amid their historic start.

    The Bruins still fought and clawed their way to tie things up in the third. After firing 46 shots his way, the B’s thought they’d at least get a few more chances on Vejelka heading into overtime. Yet, on a night of oddities at Mullet Arena, the Bruins fell victim to the oddest of conclusions.

    As Arizona cleared the puck from the defending end in the closing seconds, Jeremy Swayman opted not to play the puck in hopes of fielding an icing call with Derek Forbort clearly in the vicinity. The puck crossed the side of the crease before it reached the goal line.

    The linesmen didn’t blow the play dead. An assertive Mattias Macceli pounced on the loose puck after Forbort struggled to corral the rubber biscuit.

    With Forbort and Charlie McAvoy near the goal line, Macceli promptly found Lawson Crouse for a wide-open one-timer. The Coyotes winger promptly beat Swayman for the second time to secure Arizona’s 4-3 triumph.

    “We thought it was icing,” head coach Jim Montgomery told reporters afterward.

    The Bruins encountered defensive lapses resulting in a Josh Brown tally 23 seconds in, a Crouse second-period tip, and Nick Schmaltz converting on a 2-on-1 early in the third. But Montgomery’s squad remained aggressive in the attacking end from the get-go.

    David Pastrnak and Nick Foligno each netted equalizers in the first and third periods, respectively, on power play one timers. They remained aggressive in 5v5 situations, generating multiple quality looks and cashing in during the middle frame on a gritty Charlie Coyle goal.

    But it wasn’t enough. Between Veijlmeka’s outstanding 43-save performance and the game-ending non-icing sequence, the Bruins couldn’t overcome the lowly Coyotes.

    Here’s what we learned after the Coyotes snapped their 19-game drought against the Bruins dating back to the 2010-11 season.

    The non-icing call caught the Bruins off-guard.

    Rule 81.5 of the NHL rulebook highlights the league’s no-icing requirements. At no point does it mention anything regarding the puck crossing the blue paint of the crease before hitting the goal line.

    Since the puck didn’t touch Swayman on the way to the Boston defensive goal line, and with Forbort as the nearest skater in the area, the Bruins thought the linesman would waive his arm in the air to signal icing.

    The opportunistic Coyotes pounced. The Bruins would encounter the ensuing faceoff at center ice instead of their attacking end after Crouse notched the go-ahead tally with 13.5 ticks remaining in regulation.

    “That completely caught me off guard,” Foligno said to reporters. “It’s icing all day. I don’t understand how at that point in the game it would be anything different. It’s really just too bad. I don’t get the call.”

    Foligno put the Bruins in position to nab at least one point with his tying marker at 14:31 of the final frame. The team continued pressuring Vejlmeka in the final 5:29.

    Instead, an official’s split-second interpretation left the Bruins without anything to show for their effort. Amid the frustration, captain Patrice Bergeron wasn’t interested in pointing fingers at the four men in stripes.

    “It happens fast. I think there’s a debate for icing there. The linesman is there to make a decision based on a fraction of a second,” Bergeron noted. “Bottom line, you just can’t blame it on decisions because that’s the last thing you want to do. I think for us as a team, we have to own it and be better next game.”

    The Bruins owned the Coyotes for the better part of a decade. Now they’ll enter bounce-back mode for the second time in three games when they travel to Vegas hoping to avenge their lone home loss of the season against the Golden Knights.

    Bruins struggle with Arizona’s counterattack.

    Most of Boston’s 46 shots on goal came in high-danger areas and through secondary scoring chances.

    What the Coyotes lacked in quantity, they made up for with most of their 16 chances on net coming on high-danger looks against a shaky Swayman.

    For a brief time, the two teams traded odd-man rushes. Yet, the Bruins couldn’t convert on their looks in transition, with Vejlmeka standing tall on breakaway attempts from Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk, and numerous 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 opportunities in the middle frame.

    The opportunistic Coyotes converted on their chances when it mattered, with Crouse and Schmaltz cashing in on their looks in open ice.

    “Bottom line is we have to be better and do more to avoid those grade A chances and find ways to find the back of the net on our side,” Bergeron said.

    “I think that’s something that we can take away,” Foligno added. “When you do have the puck for that much, there’s moments where you didn’t get it in deep, and that’s all they need. That seemed to be the case tonight — where a little play where you don’t get it in or they have a little bit of life, and they think they’re in the game.”

    The Bruins dominated puck possession. But they ran into a hot goalie and a timely Arizona counterattack during their first appearance at a relatively intimate hockey venue.

    A bizarre night inside new confines

    The curiosity surrounding their trip to the desert began during the morning skate on Friday inside the 4,600-plus-seat venue. Some players compared the Mullet Arena surroundings to similar venues of their collegiate at junior hockey days.

    With spectators right on top of the action, the pace of play looked a tad faster than what they’re accustomed to. Perhaps it affected the officiating, too, with both teams quibbling over calls and non-calls throughout Friday’s tilt.

    “This is a great environment, but a tough environment, too,” Montgomery said. “Things seem to happen a lot quicker here. Do we think we could’ve had a couple of more power plays? Yeah. But you can say that every night.”

    The Bruins could’ve encountered a similar fate in Phoneix, Glendale, Tuscon, Houston, Quebec City, or even Hartford. They’ll have at least another two visits to Tempe as the Coyotes hope to finally find a long-term home — in Arizona or elsewhere — before their next appearance.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    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.


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