Saturday, February 4, 2012
For The First Time In Nearly Two Months, The Bruins Have Lost Two In A Row
Call it whatever you want-a funk, a tough stretch, a post All-Star break snooze-the Boston Bruins are currently struggling as much as they have since October concluded.
The B's (32-16-2) fell 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins (30-18-4) this afternoon at TD Garden. It was Boston's sixth loss in its last 10 games.
The NHL trade deadline is three weeks from Monday. A few weeks ago, I would have thought it was silly to even discuss a possible move in depth since the Bruins were on cruise control but now, with a few more sub par efforts, I think GM Peter Chiarelli and Co. will need to think long and hard about making a trade. They don't need a blockbuster but like last season, they could use an infusion of new blood that they can slot into the lineup.
Today's contest was further proof that even without Sidney Crosby, I feel that the Pens are the biggest obstacle between the Bruins and another Eastern Conference championship. They're deep, have plenty of talent, a great goaltender, they're tough and they have an outstanding coach. Pittsburgh seems like one of the only squads that isn't intimidated by Boston's physical play. In fact, they beat up the B's in this one.
I made a promise to myself after last season that I would never again partake in attending 1 p.m. games on Saturdays. I don't have the numbers to back it up but I feel like Boston always sleepwalks through those, can't score goals and usually lose.
The NHL's leading scorer Evgeni Malkin (28th goal of the season) gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal with nine seconds left in the first period. Chris Kunitz and James Neal had the assists but Malkin did the hard work as he fought for the rebound and beat Tim Thomas (26 saves; 22-10-0).
That killer goal gave Pittsburgh energy and public enemy No. 1 in Boston Matt Cooke (9th goal of the season) made it 2-0 at 1:53 of the third period. Dustin Jeffrey and Pascal Dupuis had the assists but once again, Thomas was the victim of a rebound he left basically on the doorstep of the crease.
Marc Andre-Fleury's (28 saves) shutout bid was broken at 6:45 by Joe Corvo. The defenseman, who's been playing awful the last month or so, scored his third of the season thanks to a nice screen by Brad Marchand. Corvo's harmless wrist shot from the point found its way past Fleury. Marchand and Patrice Bergeron had the assists.
Boston pressed for another goal but they never found it. The lack of goal-scoring the past two games (1 total) isn't just because of Nathan Horton's absence but I think it's obvious that as much as we love Rich Peverley, he's not first line material.
The Penguins will play the Bruins twice more in the regular season: March 11 in Pittsburgh and April 3 in Boston.
The Bruins have a tough back-to-back as they travel to Washington D.C. to face the Capitals tomorrow afternoon (12:30 p.m.). In the last game before the All-Star break, the B's lost 5-3 to the Caps on January 24. Before I settle in for Super Bowl 46, it would ease my mind a bit if the B's can get two points.