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Thursday, March 5, 2015

If the Bruins Go to a Shootout This Season, You Know For Certain That They Are Doomed To Lose

There are few certainties in life: death, taxes and the Bruins losing in shootouts. That might sound like a stretch but with tonight's 4-3 loss to Calgary (35-25-4) at TD Garden, Boston (31-22-10) fell to 2-7 in shootouts this season. Newly acquired David Schlemko (waived by Dallas), a seldom-used defenseman who had the least ice time of anybody on either team (7:00) had the game-winner in round eight for the Flames. Patrice Bergeron was the only Bruin to beat Karri Ramo (34 saves) in the shootout while Josh Jooris was the other guy on Calgary to put one past Tuukka Rask (29 saves).

Oddly enough, the only team in the NHL with a worse shootout record than them is the Kings (1-7). Oh and this was the seventh time in a row that the Bruins lost in a shootout, somehow all with Rask in goal. Ugh. Also this evening, the Panthers lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Stars and the Flyers beat the Blues 3-1 so Boston remains two points ahead of Florida and Philadelphia has pulled to within four points of the Bruins (with 2 games in hand). The other team to watch in this thrilling race for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference is Ottawa who is only five points back of Boston with a game in hand.

For the sixth game in a row, Boston scored the first goal of the game which obviously hasn't translated into that many wins. Brad Marchand wrapped around Calgary's goal and scored on a backhander at 7:46 of the first period. Bergeron and Dougie Hamilton assisted on Marchand's team-leading 19th goal of the season. Calgary's young star Sean Monahan tied it at 18:49. On the power play, he was able to gather a loose puck near Rask and hit the net for his team-leading 23rd goal of the season. Jiri Hudler and Kris Russell had the assists.

Milan Lucic continued to build chemistry with his new linemates Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak. Lucic banged in a one-timer from Spooner and Pastrnak at 2:30 of the second period for his 14th goal of the season which gave Boston a 2-1 lead. Calgary's next goal was all Rask's fault as he kicked a juicy rebound right to Hudler, who deposited that gift at 14:26. His 21st goal of the season was assisted by Mikael Backlund and former Bruins great Dennis Wideman.

The 2014 Hobey Baker winner-BC's Johnny Gaudreau-had a happy return to his old stomping grounds. His power play snipe at 4:59 of the third period snapped a 15-game goalless streak and more importantly, gave his team a 3-2 advantage. Russell and Wideman had the assists on the goal by one of the NHL's top rookies.

It was a tough night for Loui Eriksson, who missed a couple wonderful chances to score, but he at least made one of them count at a very important juncture. He tied it at 11:40 with a shot from in close that he nearly flubbed and Ramo got a piece of it but the puck still had enough juice to go over the line. Eriksson's 15th goal of the season was assisted by Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg.

Boston is 7-3 in overtime this season but when they couldn't score (outshooting Calgary 3-1) in the extra session, you knew that they were screwed since Calgary was 3-1 in shootouts. The only solace for them is that if they can reach the postseason, they won't have to face the dreaded shootout.

Things don't get any easier for the B's since this kicked off three games in four days: the Flyers (28-25-12) come to the Garden on Saturday afternoon (1, NESN) followed by the Red Wings (36-15-11) on Sunday afternoon (12:30, NBC). Boston has owned Philadelphia the last few years but this is also the same team that lost to Calgary in overtime and a shootout this year so anything can happen. Detroit is having a real good season that nobody has seemed to notice so the Bruins will have their hands full there. Haha is there any chance to Niklas Svedberg starts either game? I would say no.

UPDATE 3/6: The B's only had practice today but they made news as Reilly Smith got a two-year extension worth $6.85 million and Torey Krug got a one-year extension worth $3.4 million. As always, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli felt the need to lock up his "core guys" sooner than most others would ever think to do it. Krug makes sense but two years for Smith, really?

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