Don’t let the final score fool you. The Boston Bruins were 31 seconds away from losing another home game and keeping alive their statistic of losing every game in which they are trailing in the second period. For the first 40 minutes of the game, Boston was almost invisible, except in the faceoff. They were being outshot. They struggled to make solid passes. On the opportunities when they did have the puck and a possible scoring chance, they couldn’t hit the target.
By the time the teams had to go to the shootout, Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin had already seen a handful of breakaways—perhaps priming him for what was to come. If not for him, the outcome could have been completely different with no need for the bonus hockey.
The Bruins seem to be laboring in their game—playing from behind way too frequently. A team can only rely on their goaltenders so much and rallying in the final minutes. That is a dangerous way to play hockey, and often results in a loss.
“We need to control the puck and make sure that we’re putting it in good places and not turning it over, especially in the neutral zone, especially by the blue lines,” forward David Backes said. “If we can find that game, get it into their zone, make their defensemen keep going back for pucks—over time, they get tired of doing that or they make risky plays and we can do the counterattacking on them. When we get to that game, that’s when we’re really effective with four lines that can roll and play against anybody. But, if we try to play cute, it’s a coin flip and sometimes, it works in our favor and looks good. But sometimes, it doesn’t and looks really terrible. Those are the games we need to do without and keep doing the things that make us successful.”
Getting cute, or trying to make pretty plays is something that this team tries too often while on home ice. Better that they remember the importance of not being pretty when dealing with any of the teams that play with speed, of which the Carolina Hurricanes are one.
Meanwhile, as the Bruins continue to grapple with jump-starting their game, the Hurricanes find themselves currently failing to finish. For the Bruins this played in their favor, with the deflection that Torey Krug was able to make on David Pastrnak’s shot to get that important tying goal.
“I don’t like to say that we lost the game because of bad bounces, but at the same time we are working hard, we are coming together as a team, and we are playing a lot on the road right now and that helps to come together as well,” Hurricanes Derek Ryan expressed. “But at the same time we have to find ways to win these games, get two points just like this game and the last game against the Rangers as well. Yeah there are some positives we can take out of it, but at the same timer we have to start getting results.”
Of course, in the end , a win is a win, regardless of how ugly it is. Khudobin’s saves and the game winning shootout goal by Pastrnak, which was one of the only pretty things of the game, got Boston the extra point.
“I don’t think anyone here thinks they played their best game tonight, but to be able to come out with the two points is huge—especially down the stretch. So we’re excited about that,” Matt Beleskey said after the game.
However, they shouldn’t get too excited. The way they are playing right now does not speak loudly of a team that plans to make a deep playoff run. Boston sits close to the top of the big spender teams in the cap and the talent they have purchased needs to look within and take the game—the full 60 minutes of the game—to a much higher level.
The Bruins go on the road Saturday for a matinee against the Buffalo Sabres. They will be back on home ice on Monday, December 5th, hosting the Florida Panthers, who saw their coach fired this past week.