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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Who Needs The Oscars If You Can See the B's No-Show at Home for the 100th Time This Season?



This is my fourth season covering the Bruins but I can sense that 2015-16 has been special in a certain way since I feel like I am living in the movie "Groundhog's Day." Every time that I come to TD Garden, I dream that this is the occasion when Boston (34-23-6) will actually put together a win-streak at home but then I usually go home disappointed after another horrid showing by the Black and Gold. Tonight, the Lightning (36-22-4) entered with the exact same amount of points (74) as the B's (with a game in hand) but they left little doubt as to who was the better team as they skated away with an easy 4-1 victory.

As usual, it was a strange contest here as Boston actually scored first but proceeded to allow four straight goals (including 2 on the power play and a penalty shot) to put it out of reach just halfway through regulation. Kevan Miller scored at 6:01 into the first period when his screened shot from the point went in past Tampa Bay's excellent goaltender (and former Maine Black Bear) Ben Bishop (32 saves). Jonas Kempainen won the faceoff and had the primary assist while Landon Ferraro picked up the second helper on Miller's fifth goal of the season.

Zac Rinaldo was placed on waivers today by the Bruins but somehow he could also play (explain that to me, better yet don't) in this tilt. He was called for an illegal check to the head of Lightning forward Cedric Paquette (who briefly went to the dressing room afterwards). Harvard hockey alum Alex Killorn tied it at 11:19 with a power play tally that such was a snipe that Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (26 saves) had little chance to stop it. Anton Stralman and Ryan Callahan assisted on Killorn's 12th goal of the season. Before you could say Crimson, Tampa Bay struck again as Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid hilariously fell down at the opposing blue line which allowed the Lightning to have an ultra-rare 2-on-0. Killorn fed Callahan for his ninth goal of the season at 14:39, they don't come much easier than that.

Tampa Bay was up 2-1 after the first period and Patrice Bergeron was nabbed for goaltender interference after bumping Bishop midway through the second. Seven seconds into their second power play, the Lightning once again only needed one shot (kid!) to make the Bruins pay. Callahan tipped in Stamkos' rocket from the point with Stralman picking up the second assist. Boston had no answer as Stamkos earned a penalty shot less than two minutes later when he was hooked down by Brad Marchand. It was the third penalty shot taken by Stamkos this season but he improved to 2 for 6 in his career on them. Rask had faced one another penalty shot this campaign (Feb. 16 vs. Columbus' Alexander Wennberg) and he is 4 for 8 in terms of stopping them. Stamkos' 28th goal of the season came at 10:04 and it extended his goal-streak to six games (7 goals, 2 assists).

We are mere hours away (3 pm on Monday) from the NHL Trade Deadline mercifully being over. Boston had done a pretty good job of not being distracted by it, that is until this evening when they flat-lined. More importantly, the Bruins' power play was 0 for 6 and if they make the postseason this spring, their special teams can't have outings like that or it promises to be a very short stay.

Loui Eriksson and many of the other B's will surely be anxious until that time passes. It's hard to predict what Boston's front office will do since this is GM Don Sweeney's first go-round so we don't have a track record to look back at in regards to his moves (or lack of deals) at the deadline. As the Bruins have been all season-long, they are an extremely flawed team that never makes any sense from game-to-game. Their latest blowout loss to a fellow Eastern Conference "contender" had to leave a bitter taste in everyone's mouth associated with the club.

Besides the deadline, it's another busy week on Causeway Street as Boston hosts Calgary (26-31-4) on Tuesday (7, NESN), the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks (39-20-5) on Thursday and then the best team in the Eastern Conference-the Capitals (45-12-4) on Saturday (7, NESN). The Bruins have to beat the Flames because any point earned against the two top teams in the league should be incredibly hard to come by.


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