(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
The Boston Bruins played their fifth game of the season, though it was only their second game at home. Unfortunately for them, they played host to the Montreal Canadiens, a team that has had a winning streak on TD Garden ice since 2012. These two Original Six franchises, playing in their first of four games this season, met for an NHL record 735th time.
In addition, it was announced on Friday that Tuukka Rask was off for a maintenance day, but then was listed as day-to-day with “general soreness.” When the organization announced the call up from the Providence Bruins of Zane McIntyre as emergency backup, it was clear that Anton Khudobin would be starting for the Bruins.
Given the number of shots that the Canadiens put on net, Khudobin did a solid job of keeping his team in it for the first 31:40 of the game. But even the greatest of goaltenders needs some help from the five other guys out on the ice with him in the matching jerseys, and such was not the case for Khudobin. A complete breakdown of coverage allowed Canadiens Brendan Gallagher to get Montreal on the board first.
“Listen, Anton gave us a chance to win for the longest time,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said postgame. “I don’t think we helped him at the other end of it, but he had made the saves that he had to make, and some of the mistakes, breakaways and that kind of stuff, we know better than to give those.”
Many of the Bruins interviewed after the game agreed that the first period was certainly their best of the night. Though outshot 13 to 6 in shots on goal the squad attempted a total of 22 shots in that first frame—eight of them were blocked and eight missed the target altogether. And most of those same players agreed that the second period was where things began to unravel.
“We need to get more shots through. We were recorded for six shots on net, yet I think we had over 20-some attempts,” Julien said. “The second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn’t make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end.”
Even in those instances where the Bruins were able to get into the offensive zone, they continued to struggle with getting the shots on goal. By the end of the game, they would be credited with 21 shots on net, but in fact they attempted 55—17 a piece being blocked or missing the target. This as opposed to the Canadiens who had a total of 50 shots: 29 on net, 6 blocked and 15 that missed completely.
It wasn’t just the shots that weren’t hitting the target though. Boston struggled in other areas. Even Patrice Bergeron—an above 50% winner on the draw—had a below average night. As the puck continued to elude the target the team also began to overthink their game.
“We didn’t make the easy plays too may times and when you do that, it creates turnovers and you spend more time in your zone than you’d like to,” Bergeron explained. “It’s not just the faceoff; I think there’s a lot of areas we lost too many battles.”
Looking at the statistics after the game offered one silver lining—the defense pairing of Zdeno Chara (with 24:35 TOI) and Brandon Carlo (with 22:16, just 13 seconds less than Torey Krug who was second in TOI of d-men) were not on the ice for any of the Montreal goals. Carlo had one of the blocked shots against the Canadiens and five hits, while Chara had three shots on goal and two hits. It will be interesting to see how this pairing continues, as right now the veteran and the rookie seem to be working well together.
Boston take Sunday off, but will be back at practice on Monday morning at their new practice facility in Brighton—Warrior Ice Arena—in preparation for hosting the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday before heading back out on the road. Tuesday’s game is also the one in which the Bruins host Hockey Fights Cancer. If you are going, add a little lavender—the color that represents cancer awareness—to your black and gold. The B’s will be doing their part in many ways, including using lavender stick tape that night.