Postgame Video from Biz Jacobs
Under normal circumstances holding your opponent to only 18 shots on goal in sixty minutes of hockey is a great defensive achievement for a team. This was the case for the Boston Bruins Saturday afternoon in their matinee game against the offensively potent San Jose Sharks.
Unfortunately defense is only half of the equation for the most consistently successful hockey teams.
Coming off a rousing 6-3 victory over Dallas Thursday night, it might be fair to say the TD Garden crowd was somewhat disappointed in the bipolar play of their Bruins in the span of just a few days.They were the smooth and confident Stefan Urquelle stepping out of Steve Urkel’s transformation chamber on Family Matters. Seemingly genetically altered to be perfectly smooth and confident, and it showed in their dominating play. Perfection in a gritty game was defined in the way they moved on the ice and responded to confrontation against an opponent they needed to beat.
This afternoon against the Sharks, the Bruins were just plain old glasses and suspenders Urkel looking back after sixty minutes with nothing to show, saying to themselves “Did I do that?”
“The Building was rocking here last game but it wasn’t the same tonight,” explained Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid who dropped the gloves with Ben Eager in the first period in hopes of changing the tides early on. “I guess there is going to be the odd game like that but it’s disappointing after the game we had against Dallas and then to come in and not to be able to get the two points.”
Chances came and went, opportunities lost in the form of a bad breakout pass or a smothered rebound. Whenever an opening presented itself for the Bruins, the Sharks had no problem protecting the 1-0 lead they held for the entire game before scoring an empty netter to close the deal at 2-0.
“We just never got the opportunities we needed to score,” said Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, who finished with 17 saves. “They probably played the safest out of any team we’ve played this year as far as not taking any chances, making sure that they got the puck deep instead of trying to force a play. Sometimes that makes it tough to generate offense.”
Midway through the first period Logan Couture scored the only goal the Sharks would need breaking free from a pack of players in front of the net and going to his backhand to beat Thomas. The Bruins certainly put their share of pressure in the offensive zone, but even when given the man advantage four times they failed to get momentum swinging in their favor, nonetheless convert on the power play.
Bruins coach Claude Julien tried his best to explain his clubs difficulties.
“Tonight was probably one of the tougher times that we’ve had at getting the puck in and when we did get it in, as I mentioned,” he said. “We weren’t winning the battles for loose pucks and they kept shooting it back down the ice.
“This is one you look at and you analyze it and you try to rectify that with your team and bring it to their attention. We’re going to have more of those games coming up and we’re going to need to do better.”
In the grand scheme of the National Hockey League season it was one game. But as this season begins the rapid wind down of February and March, consistency counts more and more with every single game.
When April rolls around and seasons are left to seven game series, it pays to be Stefan more often than not.