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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hey Bruins Fans, Are We Having Fun Yet?

If you feel as though every Bruins game is like the movie "Groundhogs Day," you are not alone my friend. Hockey is a simple game, especially when your team almost never can generate more than two goals of offense. Tuukka Rask (29 saves) is still a very good goaltender and Boston's (15-13-2) defense is generally solid enough but they won't make the playoffs even in the JV Eastern Conference with their disappearing act when it comes to scoring goals. Ottawa (12-12-5) is a mess, they came into Saturday afternoon at the Garden with a new head coach Dave Cameron (in his 2nd game) and 2-7-1 in their last 10 contests. Naturally, the Senators rallied twice and eventually beat Boston 3-2 in a shootout.

With Zdeno Chara back for his second game, David Krejci remains the only major Bruin sidelined by an injury (sorry Adam McQuaid). Nobody would argue his importance to the team but it's not like he's Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos, meaning that Boston shouldn't completely fall apart without him in the lineup. They have way too many veterans and guys that have produced in the NHL to score two goals or less in seven out of their last nine games. In many ways given their earlier injuries and constant struggles this season, it's a miracle that they are still above .500 and clinging to a one-point lead over Florida and Washington for the seventh spot in the East (I just puked writing that wretched sentence).

Boston took a 1-0 lead at 11:45 of the first period on about the most unlikely scenario: a shorthanded goal (their 3rd of the season) by rookie Craig Cunningham. It was also his first career goal and point in the NHL. Chara assisted on it and honestly, Robin Lehner (29 saves) should have saved the routine shot that somehow went through his five-hole. Props to Cunningham for using his speed-something foreign to most Bruins-to win the race to the loose puck.

When your whole team is scuffling, it seems like every mistake is magnified. Brad Marchand turned the puck over in the second period and the end result was a breakaway and tying goal for Mika Zibanejad. Rask got faked out of his skates by the Swede who was assisted by Mike Hoffman. The B's responded with a fight between Milan Lucic and something called Mark Borowiecki then another random goal-scorer: Loui Eriksson. Kevan Miller found Eriksson in front and for once, he finished a great chance for his fifth goal of the season. His Swedish homeboy Carl Soderberg had the other assist.

Ottawa got another lucky bounce in the third period on the power play as Kyle Turris' shot from the point deflected off Mark Stone's skate, Rask saved that but David Legwand was there to put in the rebound at 4:17 for his sixth goal of the season. Another reason that Boston can't score is that they have the fewest power plays in the league. They only earned one this afternoon to three for the Senators, not surprisingly it didn't amount to anything for the home team.

After a scoreless overtime, Zibanejad and Brad Marchand traded goals before Bobby Ryan ended it in the third round of the shootout with a nice deke of Rask. The Bruins are gone for another week: they are at Nashville (19-7-2) on Tuesday (8, NESN), in Minnesota (15-11-1) on Wednesday (8, NBCSN) and wrapping up in Winnipeg on Friday (8, NESN). All three of those teams are currently flat out better than them at this juncture so it promises to be a tense trio of games. The Bruins' next home game is a week from Sunday vs. Buffalo. They need to figure things out quickly or else there will be changes (I think?) so they don't fall out of the playoff picture, something that appeared unfathomable coming into this season of high expectations.

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