The Bruins, hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday evening, January 17, came into the game riding a five-game winning streak that had everyone on the bench wearing smiles, which had been missing for much of the season before they strung the five together. However, after having been tied since 11:34 of the first the Blue Jackets Matt Calvert got the go-ahead goal with just 3:03 remaining in regulation.
Despite the Boston Bruins having the layers that are apparent when they are playing their game, Brandon Dubinsky was able to gain the offensive zone, though Torey Krug did angle him into the corner. Dubinsky managed to find enough space to squeak a pass to Boston College alumni Cam Atkinson who deked around Adam McQuaid with a shot that hit Tuukka Rask’s heel before Calvert, who was just sitting there at the crease, knocked it in.
And with that the energy in TD Garden from fans and players alike evaporated as a scene that had become all too familiar this season played itself out. The final insult to the night’s action on the ice would also be scored by Calvert, who would pot the empty net goal at 19:22 of the third for a final score of 3-1.
“I am disappointed. I’m gonna be honest here. I’m disappointed,” head coach Claude Julien said after the game. “I don’t care, six wins in a row, whatever, we just can’t afford to have those kind of outings. Disappointed that we didn’t come to play harder than we did tonight and we wanted to take the easy way out.”
Despite a slow start in the first and the fact that the Blue Jackets were on the board first with a power play goal by Ryan Johansen, the Bruins showed resilience and perseverance by tying the game just about three-and-a-half minutes later from a shot off the stick of Carl Soderberg. Unfortunately that was where the good things seemed to begin tapering off for the Bruins.
“We were making some strides forward. We talked about making sure we were keeping that,” assistant captain Patrice Bergeron explained. “Definitely we need a lot more. We have to sustain that [effort] and find ways to do that. Tonight was definitely not the result and the effort that we wanted.”
The question begs to be asked though if they know they need to bring the effort why is it not happening? Sometimes it may get chalked up to a particular team just being in the head of the Bruins. Other times it is the result of unknown injuries—though this scenario is usually seen only during playoffs.
Saturday’s loss was handed to the Bruins not only by the same team who trounced them on December 27, with a resounding 6-2 victory in Columbus after the Christmas break, but by the same goalie, Curtis McElhinney. And for the Blue Jackets, Saturday’s win was a much-needed one for their team—ending their own four game losing streak. McElhinney and the Blue Jackets have served the Bruins their only two regulation losses since coming out of the Christmas break.
“Well it feels good. I think obviously the last game that we played against them, it was tough after the days off. We scored quite a few goals,” McElhinney told reporters. “This one was a little bit tighter of a game. You know, they played a solid game tonight, but we were able to hang on and come out with a win.”
Just as the coach of a college team who recently came out lackluster and was then commended for his team’s effort said about the reporter’s comments during a post game interview, perhaps McElhinney was being overly kind to the Bruins. The reality of the situation is that the Bruins did not play a truly solid game, at least not for the full sixty minutes of regulation.
“Yeah, we definitely didn’t play tonight like we have in the last bunch of games. It’s unfortunate we got away from the things that were making us successful and that got us on a five-game win streak,” Milan Lucic said after the game. “It just goes to show you can’t let your guard down or you can’t be sleepy or anything like that heading into the game no matter who you’re playing.”
It was unfortunate, but it was avoidable. The Bruins know what they need to do. They know how they need to play. However, apparently they are struggling to break out of some possible bad habits that have contributed to some of their past losses.
“You know it’s one of those lessons and hopefully the last time we have to learn it.” – Milan Lucic
The Bruins have two more games before they enter the break for the All-Star festivities that will take place in Columbus. While most of the team will have that time off, Bergeron will be representing the Bruins during the All-Star weekend. However, right now their focus needs to be on what they must do to get a full sixty minute effort from each man on the bench.