(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
Well, there won’t be two points under the Christmas tree this season for the Boston Bruins as they go into the holiday break. They were shut out at TD Garden by a very hungry and determined St. Louis Blues team who came into Tuesday’s tilt in a disagreeable mood from their “unacceptable” loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night. However, given how the Bruins began the season, their current position in the standings is definitely something they can take into the break happily.
That being said, the Bruins are planning on continuing to improve their game and work to remain in playoff contention coming out of the holiday break. They will play host to the Buffalo Sabres on the 26th, which will see the return of hometown phenom Jack Eichel to the Garden, though playing for the “enemy.”
Let’s not forget also that in addition to the Sabres game, Boston will soon be playing a very important game both in terms of points and rivalry on New Year’s Day, as they take on the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium in the 2016 Winter Classic.
Though Tuesday night’s score was a disappointment for the Bruins, it was one of their strongest games, playing almost a full 60 minutes and overall having some solid passing as well as limiting the Blues chances for most of the game. They managed to keep St. Louis off the scoreboard until Vladimir Tarasenko got a breakaway at 7:35 of the third frame. His goal gave some additional jump to the Blues and they made it 2-0 about five minutes later from a goal by Robby Fabbri.
The Blues did an impressive job of keeping Boston to the outside with their shots.
“They have some big bodies back there, but I thought, you know, those battles are just determination and, you know, a battle of will,” defenseman Torey Krug said. “We have to be better for sure, I mean, like I said, it was a great test for us, but it just shows that you can never be satisfied and those mistakes in this league will cost you, especially against good teams. So you know we’ll be better. I’m looking forward to playing this team again for sure.”
It was clear the Blues had full faith in their backstop—Jake Allen—but they were all committed to the game, no passengers on that bench.
“I think last night we were all in for about 18 minutes and left the foot off the gas, but tonight it was a full 60,” Allen said after his shutout. “Last night if you looked around the locker room it was an unacceptable loss. But we had the chance today to right this ship before Christmas, before a couple of days off. That was one of the best road games of the year.”
Currently the Central Division is one of the strongest in the league, though the parity up and down both conferences is extremely close. The Blues brought a physical game; something that usually favors the Bruins. However there is still much the Bs can take from this game in positives.
For the Bruins, such a loss reminds them that they must continue to look within themselves and their locker room for the commitment and determination needed to get the wins. They will put hockey aside for the holiday—enjoying time with family and friends. The short break will refresh them and bring a renewed energy to their game.
It’s impossible to win all 82 games in the regular season, but those watching Tuesday’s game can take heart in the improved game the Bruins are bringing which includes good lane blocking, resilience, and a better pace from most on the bench.
“Let’s not forget what happened here in the last month and a half or so,” summed up head coach Claude Julien. “We’ve played some pretty decent hockey, so sometimes a loss like that just brings you back to reality and say, ‘Listen, we don’t get to where we are by accident, we gotta make sure that we play well and we do the things that we need to do to win.’ But at the same time, I like the direction our team has taken in the last month and a half and we should take advantage of that and take those three days and get some rest and hopefully come back and be as hungry as we have been in the last while.”