BOSTON – The Bruins can’t win. They lost two of their best players, Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard to injuries, they lost three of their last four games, including Saturday‘s game 3-1 against the New York Rangers, and they are starting to lose some of the confidence in their play.
And perhaps there is nothing else more to lose.
The team announced this morning before the puck dropped that Marc Savard will miss 3-4 weeks due to a partial MCL tear in his right knee he acquired in Thursday night’s game against the Blackhawks. In fact, it wasn’t that news that kept the Bruins from competing. Instead it was their own mistakes and penalties through the mid part of the game that put the Rangers on the advantage. Though the Rangers were unable to capitalize on those penalties, it kept the Bruins from creating an offense of their own.
“Everybody’s trying,” Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas said. “Mistakes happen. It can be bad timing on some mistakes, but as a goalie, when I see those mistakes, the best thing I can do for them is bail them out. So I’m not blaming them, because I have to stop the puck after those mistakes.”
After Shawn Thornton and Donald Brashear started the game off in aggressive fashion, each going to the box for fighting just two minutes into the game, it was the Rangers who struck the real blood first. Rangers rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto flew into the Bruins zone on the left side, rushing past the defense and eventually sliding it past Thomas at 7:56 for his sixth goal of the season.
However, even at that point, the Bruins stayed within reach. With 5:10 left to go in the period, and being victim of the second Bruins penalty of the period, Sturm took the shorthanded opportunity on a breakaway and was hooked down in the process, resulting in a rare penalty shot break. The crowd roared and Sturm tried to deek to the left side but was stomped out by Henrik Lundqvist. That penalty shot was Sturm’s fourth while donning the Bruins jersey–the most any one player has taken in Bruins history.
With 1:30 left to go in the first, the Bruins continued their barrage of shots and turned on the heat with three unanswered scoring opportunities from the blue line. They also managed to outshoot the Rangers 11-7 in that period.
But that’s where the good times ceased.
The Rangers took intermission as an opportunity to regroup and come out in the second period dominant–and dominate they did. Two penalties in a row, and a goal scored by Brandon Dubinsky right after deflated the Bruins and disrupted any game plan they might have had. Dubinsky mustered 3 points on the night, 1 goal and 2 assists.
“Well, tonight was frustrating,” Bruins defenseman Derek Morris said. “We played pretty hard I thought. The effort was definitely there. We didn’t do a real good job of getting traffic. They did a good job of confronting our shots, you know, [Henrick] Lundqvist made some big saves at key times and we had a few too many penalties there in the second.”
A third Ranger goal from Erik Christensen in the third period was just a slap in the face of Boston, as it came a mere 37 seconds into the final frame. The Bruins lacked energy and momentum from that point on, even after Dennis Wideman put up the Bruins lone goal with 3:44 left in the game, for his third goal of the season.
“We had some chances against the goaltender, Lundqvist, [in the third period] but it’s pretty tough to score three goals in one period,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “When you have to kill three penalties, it kind of took some of the momentum away from the hockey club. It didn’t help us, it didn’t help our bench.”
The frustration is long withstanding as they now must look outside of Boston. This was the last home game for the Bruins before they head out to California to play three very capable west coast teams.
“Well, it’ll be an important trip,” Thomas said. “There are going to be good teams that we’re going to play out there. So it’s up to us to find a way to get those two points.”