Saturday, October 10, 2015
The Bruins Are Off to Their Worst Start Since 2005-06, So There Is That
Another game and another humbling defeat by the Bruins. All we can hope is that this isn't an omen for how things are going to go for the bulk of the 2015-16 season. Montreal (2-0) came to TD Garden on Saturday night and topped the B's (0-2) 4-2 in a contest that truthfully wasn't that close since Boston scored with 31 seconds left to make the final score appear a little less grotesque. Boston has started 0-2 just 13 times in their 91 years of existence, most recently in 2005-06. 0-3 is certainly a distinct possibility since the defending Eastern Conference champs-the Lightning (2-0)-pay them a visit on Monday afternoon (1, NESN).
First things first, the best rivalry in hockey has become very one-sided over the last few years. Montreal has won seven games in a row in Boston (dating back to Jan. 12, 2012) and six overall in the series that has seen the most meetings (730) of any NHL matchup. Tonight was more of the same as the Canadiens used their spectacular team speed and skill to draw six power-plays. They only cashed in on one of them (the first) but for whatever reason, the B's under head coach Claude Julien never seem to have an answer for this style for the most part. Boston's plodding and lack of creativity never looks as bad as it does when they face the Habs, every time it sticks out like a sore thumb.
It didn't take long for Montreal to jump ahead as they drew a bogus illegal check to the head penalty on Matt Beleskey at 1:14 then 11 seconds later, David Desharnais had an easy tap-in from Andrei Markov and Alex Galchenyuk. Boston should have had at least a goal or two later in the first as Torey Krug hit the post, Carey Price (20 saves) robbed David Pastrnak not once but twice on the doorstep and Brad Marchand hit the crossbar.
Lars Eller scored a pair of goals early in the second period, sandwiched around what should have been a goal by Joe Morrow that cut it to 2-1. Instead, the Canadiens basically clinched it by going up 3-0. With Boston's lack of goal-scoring against Price-the Vezina Trophy winner-that is an insurmountable lead in most instances. Morrow's goal was off a rebound but it was ruled no goal since Patrice Bergeron slightly bumped Price (because he was pushed by a Canadien). Julien used the new coach's challenge but still lost (thereby forgoing the timeout) even though it appeared to be an easy correction.
A bounce finally went the Bruins' way as Matt Beleskey's centering pass went off a Montreal skate past Price at 14:26 of the second to make it 3-1. The first goal of his Boston career was assisted by David Krejci and Pastrnak. Mild-mannered Ryan Spooner received a boarding and game misconduct penalty for a hit from behind at 3:30 of the third. Boston was able to kill a two-man advantage for Montreal that lasted 1:05. Dale Weiss hit the post but more importantly to Boston's season, Marchand jumped into his elbow (this is how it happened) and ended up very woozy (he went right to the dressing room and never returned). Tomas Plekanec scored an empty-net goal for his 500th career NHL point and Bergeron scored a power play goal in garbage time after Torrey Mitchell got a match penalty.
Julien made two lineup changes coming into this contest with Max Talbot and Colin Miller (playing in his first NHL game) taking the place of Joonas Kemppainen and Zach Trotman. Talbot's only stat was one hit in 12:18 of ice time so it's hard to quantify any contributions he might have made. Miller had a shot on goal and blocked a shot in 16:13. Claude was happy with his performance so I see no reason why he would be switched out on Monday, why not take Matt Irwin (-2) out and replace him with Trotman? I know that messes up the whole left shot/right shot thing but at this point, do the B's really have to worry about secondary stuff like that? How about the best players play while the scrubs take a seat or better yet, go to Providence or get waived.
Call me crazy but at some point, things will click for the Bruins this season and they will look like the playoff contender that most thought they could be, right? We knew it would be bumpy with Zdeno Chara (still no need to rush him back) and Dennis Seidenberg but these first two games have been downright ugly. Julien is probably coaching for his job and you'd like to see him get a fair shake with a legitimate defensive corps, not this slop. Nobody looks good when your team has this many holes already, Tuukka Rask (34 saves) says hello. One of their major downfalls last season, Boston lacked a real identity and they sure don't have a positive one so far this young season.