What should have been a postgame celebrating the plucky Seth Griffith’s first multi-point game of his week-old NHL career (2 goals and 1 assist), coupled with Milan Lucic’s third multi-point game of the season, was instead yet another postmortem on what went wrong and when.
Coming off their impressive win on Saturday where they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1, it was hoped they had found the groove that had eluded them all too frequently up to that point. However, what started out as one of their stronger starts on home ice, would once again see the wheels fall off the wagon as the third got underway. In fact it wasn’t until 5:56 into the third period that the Boston Bruins would get their first shot on goal of the period. And before that happened, the Wild had scored an even-strength goal to cut the Bs lead in half. And just 38 seconds after the Bruins managed that first shot of the third, the Wild would tie up the score.
Postgame, Claude Julien was asked if there was anything he saw the Bruins do wrong in that third period.
“I think a lot of it started in the second period. We started playing on our heels, we stopped playing on our toes and being first to the puck, or at least create battle,” Julien responded. “I guess it’s disappointing to see the lack of tape-to-tape passes and how we’re just mismanaging that puck.”
In the end it was clear that the Minnesota Wild clearly were more determined to win—of course they had experienced their own lack of finish on Monday night when they let the New York Rangers score five unanswered goals in the third period of that game. The Wild no doubt had some motivation from the sting of that game. And they clearly wanted to pass along that hurting to the Bruins—and where it counts most, the score sheet.
And yet, with just 1:37 remaining in the first period Griffith, with assists by David Krejci and Zach Trotman (his first NHL career point), managed to tie the score, taking the Bruins into the first intermission even. Griffith would pot his second of the night while flying through the air just under five and a half minutes into the second allowing the Bruins to lead for the first time in the game. And when Lucic put the Bruins up by a pair, many assumed this would be the same Bruins who in the past held on to such leads.
“We did what we had to do to establish a two-goal lead heading into the third. For our team that’s usually our bread and butter,” Lucic said after the game. “We’re real good at having that killer instinct and shutting it down and playing our best period in the third. Unfortunately it wasn’t there.”
It most definitely wasn’t. Julien shortened his bench as things continued to spiral out of control in the third. In fact, defenseman Matt Bartokowski saw the least minutes on the night, with just 11 shifts for a total ice time of 8:56 And while Julien refused to point fingers at the pairing of Bartkowski and Trotman as a reason for the lack of control from the Bruins, it was clear that he was not happy with Bartkowksi, who warmed the bench for approximately 13 minutes of that third period. Bartkowski and Trotman were on the ice for the first three of the Wild’s goals, but clearly Julien saw something in Bartkowski’s play that was more egregious.
Unfortunately the first line of Lucic, Krejci and Griffith was also on the ice for those three goals as well. But perhaps it was their hits, shot attempts and goals that helped keep them on the ice. Lucic had seven hits in the game and it was clear that the pre-injured Lucic was making his appearance in parts of the game on Tuesday night.
In the end it was again not enough. Too little, too late. Whatever cliché works, where the team didn’t. And Lucic was clear postgame about he and his line mates not calling out any of the Bruins.
“It just goes to show that you need all 20 guys to do their part in order to win a hockey game in this league,” he said. “Go back to that Toronto game and we have everyone doing their job at their best and we win the game.”
The season is young, fortunately. This was only the eleventh game of an 82-game schedule. And the Bruins have seen one of the busiest of game schedules of any team in the league. Perhaps this will work to their advantage later in the schedule when perhaps they may not be as pressed for healthy and healed bodies as those teams playing the heavier number of games. Unfortunately the Bruin have no games in hand on anyone and will have to climb out of a whole of their own making.
Right now the team reminds of the petulant child who is very sorry when he gets caught doing something wrong and promises not to do it again. They know all the right things to say, the problem seems to be between the saying of it and the doing of it.
We just [have to] communicate better, execute better in the d-zone so we can get going the other way. — Lucic
Now all the Bruins need to do is to put that into practice. They need consistency and they know it is lacking. Unfortunately knowing that something is lacking and knowing just how to fix it are two very different things.
The team has practice on Wednesday and then they will travel to western New York to take on the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. This will be another important game for them and a chance to break the cycle and begin that climb to a consistency they must attain if they have any hopes of reaching the postseason.