Thursday, December 15, 2016
Nevermind Playing Hockey Games, The Worn-Out Bruins Desperately Need a Rest Like Right Now
In any professional sport, every team will face a rough stretch with tons of games (and travel) condensed into a short amount of time. That's why it is pointless fodder (although always a favorite crutch for my fellow lazy media members) to whine about such circumstances since at some point, everyone will have to deal with it. With all that said, the Bruins (16-13-3) have to be happy that they finally get two days between games for the first time in nearly a month (Nov. 20-21). After getting three out of four unlikely points with a 2-1 overtime win in Montreal (19-6-4) on Monday and a 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh (20-7-3) last night, they returned to TD Garden and lost 4-3 to the Ducks (16-10-5) this evening.
The season-long trends for the B's of losing in Game 2 of back-to-backs (1-5-0) and Game 3 of three-games-in-four-nights (3-5-0) continued along with the even more troubling poor play when anyone not named Tuukka Rask (15-5-3) occupies their net. Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin (1-5-0) clearly isn't the same guy he was in his first go-around with the Bruins back in 2013 but it doesn't help that his few starts are usually marked by team-wide shitty outings.
A new wrench was thrown into Boston's usual script for home losses as they actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period only to see Anaheim quickly erase that. Boston dropped to 11-2-0 this season when they lead by 2+ goals. The Ducks went up 3-2 early in the second period and the Bruins tied it up but once again, Anaheim had the last laugh. The game got off to such a crazy start that it was a shame to see it end in such an anti-climatic fashion (with 0 goals in the final 34:58). It was a battle of backup goaltenders with Khudobin (23 saves) facing your boy Jonathan Bernier (6-2-1) who finished with 31 saves.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara blasted home a shot from the point at 12:07 of the first period. David Backes and Brad Marchand assisted on Chara's second goal of the season (his 1st goal in 22 games and 1st point in 8 games). Only 13 seconds later, Austin Czarnik doubled Boston's advantage with a one-timer from Ryan Spooner and Riley Nash. The rookie has slowly started to find his legs in the NHL with two goals and two assists in the last six games. It turned into video game hockey as Andrew Cogliano cut it to 2-1 just 24 seconds after Czarnik's strike. The three goals in 37 seconds was the most in a Bruins game since Boston and St. Louis combined for three in 34 seconds on Dec. 19, 1987. In truth, it was an own goal as Cogliano passed it to Jakob Silfverberg but the latter whiffed while David Krejci accidentally put it in his own goal. Woof.
Earlier in the frame, Khudobin had stopped a partial breakaway on Silfverberg but then Kevin Bieksa tied it up at two by jumping out of the penalty box and taking a stretch pass by Ryan Getzlaf (his 23rd assist, 2nd most in the NHL) before he beat Khudobin. Former Northeastern Husky Josh Manson went to the net and was rewarded with a juicy rebound right on his stick with Khudobin way out of position. His 1st goal of the season came 55 seconds into the second period with Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell picking up the assists. Krejci scored one for his team which was nice (his 6th of the season), depositing a power-play goal from Backes and Torey Krug at 2:06.
Rakell put in a rebound at 5:02 of the second period which turned out to be the game-winner. Sami Vatanen and Cam Fowler assisted on Rakell's 12th goal of the season (he was also named the 1st star of the game). The B's will have no practice tomorrow and then probably a light workout on Saturday before they host the Kings (15-12-2). Los Angeles is in Pittsburgh tomorrow night so unlike many of their recent contests, Boston will be waiting for someone to visit them rather than the other way around. Tonight's loss dropped them to under .500 at the Garden (7-8-0) in 2016-17. The Kings are hanging onto the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference but without star goaltender Jonathan Quick (what up ZooMass?) out until March with a groin injury, it's doubtful that they'll be able to hang on to it. The B's will have to take advantage of playing a West Coast team on Sunday afternoon (1, NESN), granted the Kings' bodies should be used to the Eastern Time zone by then.