That sure came fast; the month of January is nearing its end.
Entering the final game before the annual NHL All-Star break, the Boston Bruins compiled a record of 26-17-5 and putting themselves in an early bid for postseason play.
While the teams around the Bruins in the Atlantic Division are leveling off, they are peaking at the right time. After taking points in five out of their last six games, capitalizing on the opportunity to defeat a beatable opponent will become crucial. It also helps that the B’s are as fully healthy (from an offensive standpoint) as they have been all season. The luck seems to be on their side for a change.
On Tuesday night, the Black and Gold hosted the Anaheim Ducks in what was the final game of the month.
The Ducks are struggling this year, plain and simple. The answers are hard to come by, but they are ranked 30th in the NHL in goals per game. That stat is sort of mind boggling considering that the only key offensive piece that they lost in free agency was Matt Beleskey…Where did he end up again?
With a couple of key players out of the lineup on the blue line, Anaheim was hoping for some sort of neutralizer heading into Tuesday night. Since Boston played the previous night in Philadelphia, perhaps that was going to be enough for the Ducks?
Jonas Gustavsson (9-3-1, 2.29 GAA, .917 SV%) got the start between the pipes for Boston as Tuukka Rask played Monday night in Philly. He opposed Frederik Andersen (7-8-5, 2.40 GAA, .915 SV%).
The Bruins came out stronger in this game than in any other game that they had played all year. Just 40 seconds after the puck was dropped, Zach Trotman blasted the puck past Andersen to record his first goal of the season. The play resulted from great puck movement and patience in the offensive zone. Several minutes later, Corey Perry tied the game after the B’s got lazy in their own defensive zone and allowed David Perron to get to the puck first. With the easy set up in front, Perry will not miss many of those.
Torey Krug (yes, you read that right) and Chris Stewart dropped the gloves after a scrum in front of Gustavsson. Stewart certainly picked his spot with that one, but Krug stood his ground. Stewart (6-foot-2, 231 pounds) vs. Krug (5-foot-9, 186 pounds). Just saying. Anyway, the momentum stayed with the Ducks. Shea Theodore-a talented young defensive prospect-netted the second goal for Anaheim on the power play. For the majority of the opening 20 minutes, Anaheim dominated.
In the second period, Rask came on in relief of Gustavsson in an attempt to turn the tide of this game. It was later reported that Gustavsson suffered an illness and was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital.
“He was brought to the hospital and I do not know anything else,” said head coach Claude Julien regarding the matter. However, Rask was ready. “You always have to be prepared and in the zone in case situations like that happen,” said Rask.
The pace certainly seemed to die down and the emotions got put on the backburner; there was still a game to be won. It definitely appeared that Anaheim got the message as the team increased its lead by netting two more goals. Unfortunately, they were pretty weak goals at that. The Bruins lacked effort and seemed content to play a lot of dump-and-chase hockey. That is not going to win you very many games in this league. The B’s outhit the Ducks 13-9 and led in face-offs 23-20 after two periods, but trailed 28-25 in shots and (most importantly) 4-1 on the score sheet.
“They were in our face and they came at us hard,” said Julien. “At the same time, they are a heavy team and made us pay in the second period. Where they are in the standings is not reflective of how they played against us.”
The B’s managed to get a quick goal to begin the third period on the stick of Zdeno Chara to cut the lead to 4-2. The pushback that Boston put forth in the final 20 minutes was too late, to the point where they just were skating to get through regulation. The Ducks came away with the 6-2 victory, keeping the Bruins right in the middle of the pack in the division.
“The fact that we could have been in second place after this one is a little disappointing and it is going to leave the guys itching a little bit,” said Trotman following the loss. “We were up-and-down tonight and we did not capitalize on our chances.”
That will do it for the schedule prior to the All-Star break. Good luck to Patrice Bergeron as the lone Bruins representative in the festivities this coming weekend.
Lineup for Jan. 26th vs. ANA
Ryan Spooner-David Krejci-Loui Eriksson
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Brett Connolly
Matt Beleskey-Joonas Kemppainen-David Pastrnak
Landon Ferraro-Max Talbot-Jimmy Hayes
Zdeno Chara-Zach Trotman
Dennis Seidenberg-Colin Miller
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller
Side Notes…Brad Marchand entered this night with a goal in five-straight games…..Both David Krejci and Ryan Spooner now have multi-game assist streaks. Krejci has three games and Spooner has four games…..The Bruins were concluding their 7th of 11 back-to-back sets this season. They possessed a record of 4-1-1 before Tuesday…..Loui Eriksson is just three goals shy of his 200th career NHL goal…..Landon Ferraro returned to the lineup after being a scratch in the game on Monday vs. Philadelphia.