When the first puck dropped on Monday starting the game between the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche, much had already been said about the necessity for the Bruins to do better and to find their resilience. There were some line-up changes as the Bruins scratched Bobby Robins, Kevan Miller and Matt Fraser, putting in Matt Bartkowski and Jordan Caron to join the recalled Seth Griffith and the healthy David Krejci along with Niklas Svedberg in net.
The energy from the Bruins was certainly better than the bulk of the game against the Washington Capitals on Saturday. However, as the game went on, the lack of finish from the Bruins was again on display. Watching from press level allows for a bird’s eye view of the game. From that level the game displays in a much different manner than it does either on television or on the ice. As such, it is sometimes easy to point to things and question why a team didn’t see an option, an available lane, or open player.
With that said, there were some instances with the Bruins where the inability to complete a pass and the break down in plays proved costly.
“I don’t think we’ve given a ton of scoring chances. So, it’s not as bad as maybe it looks,” Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame. “I think it’s just that the mistakes we’re making right now—a lot of them end up in the back of our net.”
It may not be as bad as it looks, but with their third straight loss, it is clear that there are things that aren’t working. And in the end, hockey really is a game of mistakes and whether or not the opposing team can capitalize.
“It’s not the amount, it’s the types of mistakes that we’re making that’s got to be better.,” continued Julien. “Like on that last goal, you know, there’s no time left, you can’t lose track of somebody behind you. And we did. So it’s in our net.”
No time left is what made that goal so painful to a Bruins team that had rallied from their defeat on Saturday and had brought another level to their play. The goal that Julien referred to was scored by the Avalanche’s Daniel Briere with just 0.5 seconds remaining on the clock.
There is undoubtedly more to do for this Bruins team. But like the city it represents—scrappy, blue-collar, “never say die”—the Bruins are no stranger to adversity. Hopefully they will embrace the adversity and turn it to their advantage.
“At the end of the day those are things that make your team a stronger team and a better team down the road,” said Julien. “When you have adversity, a lot of teams will tell you at the end of the year, that it probably made them a better hockey club.”
Of course to do that they need to learn from it. And right now a lot of the players are forcing things and gripping their sticks too tight as pucks don’t get into their opponents’ nets and passes don’t end up on the stick of a teammate.
It’s unfortunate that for his first NHL game—to which his parents were able to come—that Griffith was on the losing team. But he took a philosophical approach to the loss pointing out that he’s got his first NHL game under his belt and he can only move on.
Like Torey Krug and Brad Marchand, the 5’9” Griffith is a smaller player who must think with his head, but likewise, he must face some large and heavy opponents. However, his attitude on the ice is that of one of the largest players out there. The Pink Puck commented on his willingness to get into the corners and go against these bigger players with no hesitation.
“I think if you’re intimidated you’re not going to play as good as you can be,” Griffith responded. “There’s big guys all around the league, so being a smaller guy you can’t be intimidated at all.”
Griffith mentioned what he felt he needed to get getter at in the next game, recognizing that improvement is always possible.
“I think I just got to be a little stronger on the puck, like I said, there’s a lot bigger guys out there,” he said. “But that’s something I’ve going to adjust to and hopefully be better for next game.”
Bartkowski owned up to his contribution in that last second goal.
“I just didn’t see the guy behind me, so I got too high and they got a shot through and what happens, happens,” he said. “I mean you see what happens, I should’ve been lower there you saw it.”
Hopefully Julien’s assessment is correct and the team can build from this adversity. But perhaps Marchand summed it up best in his take on what is missing.
“I just think that we seem to not be connecting and think that we gotta bear down a little more and be confident in our abilities,” he told reporters. “It just seems that right now we’re forcing plays a little too much, and maybe we have to get back to keeping it simple.”
The Bruins team heads out for a road trip of three games in four nights. And while it isn’t a long road trip, it will be a chance for the players to bond with just hockey on their minds. Could be just what this team needs right now.
The full interview of Seth Griffith: