What did the Boston Bruins learn from their game against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, November 3? First, their coach was right when he pointed out this morning that the Stars would look to bounce back after their loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night. Second, Tyler Seguin can shoot and he has apparently solved Tuukka Rask, because all three of his goals came from the left circle, two beating Rask glove side and the third looked like it caught him on the short side. Third, they continue to struggle at home where they are currently 1-4-1 in their six home games. Fourth, it’s not the quantity of shots that matter but the quality of those shots.
The Stars didn’t just bounce back; they stomped around TD Garden’s ice like they owned it. The Bruins got into their own heads and totally forgot the most important thing about the strength of their game: keep the game simple. So while the Stars made almost every shot on goal count, the Bruins outshot them 39 to 19 and had only a loss to show for it at the end of the game.
Perhaps it was the emotions that were stirred up having watched assistant captain Chris Kelly go down just three seconds into his first shift with what was later confirmed to be a broken left femur on which he will have surgery Wednesday before being sidelined for six to eight months. Perhaps it was Seguin’s putting the Stars on the scoreboard first just 5:46 into the first period. Perhaps it was the number of penalties they took and how the Stars capitalized on so many. Perhaps it was none of these things. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter what the cause or causes were. What’s most important is that the Bruins need to recognize what happened and solve the issues sooner than later.
The team seemed to be fine going into the first intermission, as they carried a 2-1 lead off of a Loui Eriksson power play goal scored just 25 seconds before the horn ended the first period. However, the players who emerged back on the ice to start the second period, albeit shorthanded from a crosscheck called on Matt Beleskey at the 20-minute mark of the first, seemed to have their focus elsewhere.
“I don’t know where our team went. We just kind of lost our focus and we weren’t the same team again,” head coach Claude Julien said after the game. “Instead of trying to dig it in, I think the way they were playing us, our guys were getting more and more frustrated and the more we got frustrated the more we got away from our game.”
Couple this with the fact that Dallas scored three of their five goals on the man advantage, and some time needs to be spent looking at what changed for the Bruins on the penalty kill.
“Well, I mean, it’s pretty obvious. It’s way too porous and too many holes,” Patrice Bergeron told media. “Obviously it’s going to be really hard for [Tuukka Rask] to stop those kind of shots. We definitely got to be a lot better.”
One thing is sure, the Bruins will examine their game tonight. They will silently review their individual contributions, or lack thereof, internally. They will review tape of the game and analyze it. They will look to see if they can pinpoint where they checked out of the game as a team.
For those who are undoubtedly ramping up to point out how the Bruins wouldn’t have lost had they still had Seguin on their roster, it is unlikely that anyone can change that belief. However, a lot of Seguin’s current success has to do with his maturity and change in mindset coupled with the chemistry he has been able to create with his line mates. Even his ability to play center—his natural position—contributes to the success he is having, as does the system employed by the Stars coaches. By the way, the booing only serves to motivate him.
“You don’t know how they’re going to be. I find sometimes when you’re getting booed it makes you play better,” Seguin said amidst the media clamoring to question him. “I mean, I get booed in Winnipeg, where I have no idea why, but it gives you a little more jump in your step. But again, we’ve got to put this behind us. Great win for us, and we’re ready to move on.”
Seguin may be ready to move on but the Boston media will be waiting for his next visit to ask him many of the same questions they ask him every time he comes to Boston. Perhaps they should take a cue from him: Time to move on.
On a positive note, defenseman, and acquisition in the Milan Lucic trade with the LA Kings, Colin Miller, scored his first career NHL goal when he got the Bruins on the board less than two minutes after Seguin’s first goal to tie the score. It was clear from his joy that he was very pleased with that.
“Yeah, it was pretty good for me, obviously. Nice to get that out of the way so now I don’t have to worry about it anymore,” Miller said after the loss. “I think [my teammates] were just happy. I was happy too so I just kind of blacked out a bit there, jumped on them and that’s all I really remember.”
He actually catapulted himself onto Torey Krug who managed to catch him. And it was great to see how happy he was. It is just a shame that the end result was not a happy win.
The most devastating thing in the game has to be the injury to Kelly. His leadership in the locker room, his veteran maturity on the bench and his hockey IQ on the ice will definitely be difficult, if not impossible, to completely replace. To a man who was interviewed after the game, all commented on the tremendous loss to the team. But more importantly they were worried about their friend. It was clear that Kelly suffered severe pain when the injury occurred. Hockey players are some of the toughest athletes and to see him writhing on the ice undoubtedly shook some of his teammates.
“It’s huge, a veteran that is really important for us on and off the ice. He brings so much to the team, especially as a leader,” Bergeron said. “As soon as I saw him go down it didn’t look good and kind of felt like it was going to be a pretty bad injury and unfortunately, that’s exactly what it is and I’m definitely thinking of him right now. Hopefully the pain is not too bad.”
The team head out on the road and will take on the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on Thursday and then will head north where they will battle the Montreal Canadians on Saturday night in the second of four tilts against their oldest and biggest rivals. While they certainly did not want to start this road trip off with the home loss, they will have to put that behind them, after they learn where they went wrong, and see if they can continue to get those wins on the road.