The Boston Bruins were back on home ice at TD Garden on Thursday evening hosting the Colorado Avalanche and acknowledging their appreciation of military servicemen and women, both active and retired, in their annual Military Appreciation Night. Sadly, the military appreciation is about the only positive thing that came out of the evening’s game, though it didn’t start out that way.
First, Dennis Seidenberg made his season debut, having recovered from back surgery that kept him out of training camp and the beginning of the season. Having another veteran player on the bench is always a good thing for the team. Seidenberg was eager to get back into game mode, making himself heard—there is nothing quite like the sound of his skates—and felt, as he had six hits on the night, the most of anyone on his team.
Second, it looked like the team brought a winning attitude, coming out strong in the first period and notching the first goal of the game just 1:12 into the first period. The wrist shot from Zdeno Chara out high near the blue line came after a mad scramble in front of Reto Berra’s net. Colorado’s head coach Patrick Roy used his Coach’s Challenge on the call, which ended up being upheld as a goal, and as a result lost his timeout with roughly 58 minutes playing time remaining.
After Andreas Martinsen got called for a hook about four-and-a-half minutes later, the Bruins continued to capitalize with their streaking power play. Ryan Spooner, hanging near the side of the crease, wristed the puck in just 27 seconds into the man advantage. The Bs now have a power play goal in their last eight games.
The Bruins were up 2-0 and the first period wasn’t even half over. And for whatever reason—perhaps feeling comfortable with the lead—the Bruins backed off and the opportunistic Avalanche team tilted the ice in their favor and by the time the horn signaled the end of that first period the score was tied 2-2. The Avalanche got an even-strength wrister from former Bruin Carl Soderberg at the 12:08 mark followed by another even-strength one off of Francois Beauchemin’s stick with just 29 seconds remaining in that first frame.
Beauchemin’s goal is an all too familiar event in the history of the Boston Bruins going back roughly two seasons—the scoring by the opposing team with less than a minute remaining in a period. And like so many of those that have been scored before, it was the result of a sloppy icing that forced the Bruins to take a faceoff in their defensive zone. The Avs Matt Duchene—who won 80% of his draws during the game—won that crucial faceoff and just like that the game was tied and the momentum was definitely in their favor.
“We felt we were lucky to get out of that first period 2-2 and showed a lot of character getting back there,” Duchene said after the game. “We felt fortunate for that to happen and we just went from there.”
Meanwhile the home team had a different take on the outcome of the first twenty minutes.
“Well, I mean, you have a two-nothing lead. You like to hope that you can come in, in a better situation than 2-2, but, again, it was like a 0-0 right now and it’s anyone’s to win,” Adam McQuaid said of the feelings in the room during the first intermission. “So we were positive and looking to have a solid start to that period and continue progressing from there, but anyways talk is cheap I guess.”
There was a general sloppiness to much of the Bruins’ play throughout the remainder of the game, but there was also a serious moment of concern about six minutes into the second when Brad Marchand was hit, while in a vulnerable position after passing the puck, by Gabriel Landeskog that sent Marchand spinning to the ice. Having just come back from a concussion it was understandable that his temper was flaring a bit on the hit and upon getting back up, he let his emotions get the better of him punching Landeskog, who at the moment was attempting to apologize.
After a huddle of those in the striped jerseys, penalties were assessed, which saw Landeskog, who was given a match penalty for an illegal check to the head, ejected from the game. Marchand received a two-minute minor for roughing for his reaction. When it all shook out the teams played four-on-four for two minutes before the Bs were on the power play for three minutes.
“I came in as a late back-checker and [Marchand] takes his shot and as I see he is in a vulnerable position, I try to let up. I hit his shoulder first and I’m happy he wasn’t hurt,” Landeskog explained postgame.
Coach Claude Julien was asked about the incident and as he has done so many times before, he reiterated he will let the league determine if supplemental discipline is warranted. No doubt he is just glad that Marchand escape the incident unharmed, though it is likely that the staff will keep a close eye on him in the days to come.
For his part, Marchand also would not be baited by the media in regard to what he felt should happen to Landeskog in regard to additional discipline, though he admitted that his punch was a result of the heat of the moment and postgame indicated that he accepted Landeskog’s apology.
“Things happen quick, I know that, I’ve been there,” he said. “I’m sure he didn’t mean it. I don’t think he’s a dirty player, so, you know, it’s hockey. It is what it is.”
The score stayed knotted at two a piece until Duchene was able to get a wrist shot past Tuukka Rask, the result of a Kevan Miller giveaway to Mikhail Grigorenko who had moved up to the Duchene line after Landeskog’s ejection.
The Bruins continue to struggle this season, and it is not just one player here or there. The team as a whole is unable to put together a solid effort on most nights. And Coach Julien isn’t pulling any punches, basically calling out his team for their efforts.
“It’s the same old I guess. We’re off to good starts again and then you get a 2-0 lead and instead of continuing to play your game, you started seeing some long passes that ended up in icings, you saw some turnovers at the blue line,” he told the media after the game. “We’re being a little stubborn right now with respecting our game plan for the whole game. When you find it again, I thought in the third period it was more of one team a little bit more determined than the other. We didn’t win enough battles; we didn’t win enough races. This is our building; this is a game we have to win in our own building and we let it get away.”
The team will need to put this one behind them as they play host to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday evening, a team that is only two points ahead of them in the standings. Will they take what Julien said to heart? Unless they wish to find themselves at the bottom of the standings in April, they need to figure out what needs fixing. Perhaps it simply boils down to respecting and adhering to the game plan for a full sixty as Julien said.