BOSTON – For the second time in four days, the TD Garden served as a gathering spot for the city of Boston. There was another moment of silence, this time for fallen MIT police officer Sean Collier, and the sellout crowd once again sang the national anthem in unison. The “U-S-A” and “We are Boston” chants were present again, too.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Saturday’s result was also similar to Wednesday’s. The Bruins put up 40 shots for the second straight game, but came away with another 3-2 loss. In fact, Saturday marked the fourth straight game they registered 30 shots or more and scored two goals or fewer. Unsurprisingly, they’ve lost all four of those games.
These results have left the Bruins conflicted. They’re happy with their efforts, but they’re obviously disappointed with the lack of goals and lack of wins.
“I didn’t think we played a bad game,” said coach Claude Julien. “If we scored some goals today, I think everybody’s walking out of here happy with the effort and the commitment that was put into this game. But when you don’t score goals, it tarnishes a lot of things. That’s the unfortunate part. I thought we came in with a lot of emotion, we were physical, we had lots of chances. I thought we played a pretty good game. But at the end of the day, you end up with a loss.”
Most of the time when you see a team putting up shots but not scoring, it’s because they’re settling for shots from the outside and not getting to the net. The Bruins admitted they could’ve gotten more traffic to the front, but they also felt like they were generating enough quality chances.
“You look at the opportunities we had tonight, I think we had a lot of quality opportunities,” said Brad Marchand. “We just have to bear down. I missed a breakaway and other guys missed a couple of really good opportunities. Just have to bear down.”
Making things even more frustrating for the Bruins is how little time is left in the regular season. They have just five games to go before the playoffs start, and riding a four-game losing streak isn’t how they would’ve liked to enter the final week.
The Bruins are still four points ahead of Toronto for the final home ice spot, and they’re still just two points back of Montreal for the division with a game in hand. As long as the Bruins at least continue to generate chances, they should be in decent shape heading into the playoffs regardless of what seed they are. But they’d prefer to start burying some of those chances and picking up some wins to ease their minds.
“The good news is we’ve got five games to keep building,” said Shawn Thornton. “I think today was a good step in the right direction. Take away those [two] power-play goals and I think we played a pretty solid game. Lot of emotion. I think that’s the way we need to play. We were banging bodies and getting pucks in for the most part. I think that’s the way we need to play if we’re going to be successful going forward.
“The key is, I think, not to get frustrated,” Thornton added. “Because it’s definitely too late in the year to be getting frustrating and not trying to build on the positive things that we’re doing.”
The Bruins are too good of a team to be settling for moral victories this late in the season, but they also have enough veteran leadership to realize it isn’t time to panic. They’re right that, for the most part, they played pretty well on Saturday.
They’re right that five games is enough time to find some finish around the net, especially considering all the line juggling Julien has been doing over the last two weeks. But if they’re still looking for goals a week from now, it’ll be time to worry.