With a record of 3-7 in their past 10 games – and 1-4 in their past five – the Bruins have finally surrendered their division lead to the Ottawa. The scariest theme throughout this dreadful collapse has been the defensive meltdowns. For a team known to thrive on their stout defensive system, seeing the best aspect of their game fall apart can only be troubling; and now, the Bruins find themselves sitting in the seventh spot of the Eastern Conference Standings.
The Bruins have given up three or more goals in nine of their last ten games. While the goaltending has been an issue of late with Tim Thomas struggling, and backup Marty Turco putting up astronomically bad numbers, the defensive breakdowns have brought the situation from bad, too worse.
There has always been a whipping boy for Bruins fans to beat up on, and throughout the recent collapse Joe Corvo of the Boston defense has taken much of the heat. While Corvo has certainly been the worst of the defensemen, the issues are team related, and the Bruins need to focus as a group to get back to fundamental hockey- stout defensive under Claude Julien’s system.
The Corvo excuse can be taken out of the Bruins fan handbook today, as the struggling “PMD” was a confirmed healthy scratch for Saturday’s game.
Without Corvo, the Bruins lines on defense featured Zdeno Chara with Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk with Andrew Ference, and Adam McQuaid with Greg Zanon.
Just two minutes into the game the first scrap was between Greg Campbell and Zac Rinaldo. It was a spirited bout and lit a fire under the Bruins, who need any extra motivation they can get right now- good job by Campbell setting the tone early.
The Bruins struck first as the third line netted a goal. Chris Kelly scored 6:23 into the first period, assisted by Brian Rolston who made a beauty of a pass in the Neutral zone to start the play, and Benoit Pouliot who took the shot that created the rebound. It was nice to see the Bruins score first, after going down 2-0 early in each of their last four games.
Zanon and McQuaid looked solid together in the first period, playing physical with the Flyers, clearing out the net, and making strong, crisp breakout passes to create some offense.
After the penalty kill unit for the Bruins killed off two lethal Flyers power-plays, the black and gold were able to net their second goal of the period.
Ilya Bryzgalov did a poor job handling the puck behind his net, and the Bruins made him pay. After intercepting an errant pass from the Russian goalie, Patrice Bergeron skated behind Bryzgalov’s net and centered the puck to Tyler Seguin, who then able banged it through the Flyers netminder. The goal was Seguin’s 25th of the season, and the assist was Bergeron’s 37th.
The Bruins led the Flyers 2-0 after one period of play.
Midway through the second period the Flyers finally cut into Boston’s lead. Matt Read tipped a Danny Briere slap shot to beat Thomas and score the goal. It was Read’s 20th tally of the season- an impressive number considering this is his rookie campaign. Matt Carle recorded the secondary assist on the play.
Read overpowered Zanon in front of the Boston net to get good positioning for the effective tip. From Seidenberg to Zanon we have seen countless Bruins defensemen give up the front of the net, accounting for too many goals; out of all the recent defensive woes, this might be the most concerning. Seeing the puck will be key to improving Boston’s goaltending situation.
The Bruins were back on their heels for much of the second period, but fortunately maintained a 2-1 lead over the Flyers.
After a lackluster second in which much of play happened in their own end, the Bruins began the third period by taking it too the Flyers.
After multiple productive shifts, the aggressive fore-check proved costly as Shawn Thornton was sent to the box for goaltender interference; but the Bruins penalty kill unit came up huge killing off yet another Flyers power-play, this one the most important of the game.
With under just five minutes left in the game, a Bruins defenseman (this time being Ference) was once again outmuscled in front of the net, allowing Jakub Voracek to tip the Flyer shot from the point, and beat Thomas, tying the game at two. The Bruins defensive needs to get stronger in front of the net, it’s as simple as that.
Shortly thereafter a Seidenberg giveaway almost led to the game-winning Philadelphia goal, fortunately for the Bruins Thomas stayed strong in net. Whether its fatigue, or lack of confidence, the Bruins defense must snap out of their funk if this team is going to have any success in the future.
After a scoreless OT the Bruins make Bryzgalov look silly in the shootout, scoring on all three attempts. Patrice Bergeron had the game-winner and Thomas stoned Briere to conceal the victory.
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