This evening was the third matchup of the 2013-14 season between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. And unfortunately for the Bruins it ended as the other two did—with the Bruins on the losing end of the score. While the team rarely makes excuses when they lose, tonight head coach Claude Julien pointed out that given the “replacements” on the team, that they would have had to play a perfect game, and still need “a bounce here or there” for the Bruins to win. And while it is certainly easy to dwell on the negatives after a loss against their biggest—and longest—rival, perhaps the better way to spend the time is to look at the positives that came out of the game.
Given the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday evening, in which it appeared that the Bruins did not bring their jump until the third period, Saturday night they spent quality minutes in the offensive zone. At the end of the first they had 13 shots on goal in comparison to the six managed by the Canadiens. Unfortunately the Bruins were also down by a goal, as Andrei Markov scored his 100th NHL career goal during the power play resulting from Torey Krug’s interference penalty on Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau. A career milestone for Markov, to be certain, and one he will remember. However a frustrating period to the end of an otherwise impressive Bruins’ sentence.
Going into the game Markov was aware he was hovering at that milestone and it was clear after the game that it meant a lot to him.
“Yeah, I knew. Like I said, I was waiting for that so now hopefully I’m going to be more relaxed when I score another goal,” he told reporters. “[It was] something special, not just for a defenseman, like for any player. I’m just happy to have those and score those 10 goals. Thanks to all my teammates who’ve supported me and helped me for that.”
The second period saw some mistakes from the younger players, and a few missed passes from a couple of veterans. Outshot by the Canadiens, it was less about the number of shots and more about the quality of the shots for Montreal. Tomas Plekanec scored having gotten a rebound from Tuukka Rask that was in a blind spot for the defensemen and found Rask unable to get from the left post, where he had blocked the first attempt, to the right–offering a wide open net to the exploitative Plekanec.
Postgame, Plekanec and Max Pacioretty compared their team’s play of the evening to that of the Bruins’ style. And while the Canadiens’ players may not see it as such, it could be considered a compliment to the the Bruins play and the accomplishments their style of play has brought to the team over the years.
Kevin Miller,who himself is only in his second game after being injured, was asked by The Pink Puck after the game about what these two players had said, and if he had noticed that some other teams seemed to be emulating some of the Bruins style.
“We have been successful in the past by the way we play,” he responded. “I don’t know if other teams are looking at that and trying to duplicate it but we just need to focus on our game. I think if we just get a couple more opportunities and bury a couple goals it’s a different game.”
And what Miller said was certainly born out in their game on Friday night in Columbus when they did just that. Unfortunately on Saturday night they struggled to get those chances, despite the number of shots they had on goal. And in most cases that was the result of the stellar performance of Carey Price between the pipes for the opposition.
“If there’s something we’re going to critique here, it’s probably the fact that we didn’t put enough pucks on net and get some net-front presence,” Julien told the media postgame. “We tried in the third to rectify that and did a little bit better, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough and the goaltender was standing tall for them.”
And given how the Bruins have been playing in the second of a three games in four nights spread, their pace on Saturday night was certainly much better. Patrice Bergeron—who broke a stick toward the end of the second period, which in essence gave the Canadiens a lengthy period where Bergeron was stuck on the ice without a stick—was pleased with their efforts.
“We were on the puck,” he said. “We were strong on it, but we need more.”
So, as the list of injuries continues to get longer than a child’s wish list to Santa, and some bad bounces and a broken stick helped confound the Bruins efforts, the positives are there. Now the team just needs to hold onto those positives and take them into their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins who will be in town on Monday hoping to take advantage of the depleted Boston club.