(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
Thursday night’s game, the Boston Bruins were playing their third game in four nights—the sixth of such scheduled tilts this season. As they came out, it was clear that they did not have their legs, and unfortunately, their arms didn’t seem to be working much better when it came to making passes or shooting at the net.
In a rather unusual situation, giveaways resulted in the Colorado Avalanche scoring three unassisted goals—two in the first period and one in the second. This included a shorthanded goal by Nathan MacKinnon as the Avs’ second goal, and the first point of the season for John Mitchell, who coming into the game had played 19 games, with their third.
It wasn’t just the giveaways for the Bruins—as there were only eight, though some of them were costly. It was another game of missed opportunities, and an abundance of missed shots—17 to be precise. They were also suffering on the draw, winning 46%. If it weren’t for David Krejci’s astounding 77% (winning 10 of 13), the overall percentage would have been a lot worse. Patrice Bergeron uncharacteristically won just six of sixteen on the night.
Some of the goals by the Avalanche were characterized by Bruins head coach, Claude Julien, as soft, though perhaps it was the lack of hunger that he is seeing from his scorers that should be more concerning. With the two goals that David Pastrnak scored Thursday, he is now tied for first with Sidney Crosby in number of goals scored—18 at present. If not for his tenacity against Colorado, the tally could have been a lot worse.
“We just have to look at [Pastrnak’s] first goal, he takes it to the net and I know he didn’t score on the initial try, he stopped, he stayed there and he jumped on his rebound,” Julien said. “If more guys start doing that, we’re going to get more guys scoring some goals as well. You got to be hungry, you got to want to score and I think right now he’s one of those guys that really wants to score and every night he’s giving us some goals.”
Pastrnak added some weight during the offseason and he has been much harder to knock off the puck. He has scored five goals in his last three games, but he did not want to focus on any of that Thursday night.
“You know it was a great play by [Bergeron] winning the draw and then to have [Brad Marchand] found me there and it went in,” Pastrnak described his second goal. “But today we lost and I wouldn’t like to talk about my goals.”
Philosophically, one could say it was a story that was already written. The Bruins have not been able to beat the Avalanche on home ice since March 30, 1998. And in an odd twist, Colorado’s Matt Duchene has not been able to get a goal on home ice in Colorado, having scored all ten of his in road games—including the first goal in Thursday’s game against the Bruins.
“Tonight, once we got out to that big start, 3-0 lead, we were feeling pretty good and obviously [Calvin Pickard] made some big saves we needed, but they scored some nice goals too to sort of come back and we were able to get that fourth one which was big,” Duchene said after the game. “I think when you’re on your toes and you’re playing the way we are capable of playing, you’re proactive and you’re in areas that you need to be and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”
Proactive, a word the Bruins should embrace, having dug a three-goal hole in two straight games. While Pastrnak has certainly been exceptional, the team should be as hungry as he is and that starts with the very first puck drop.
“It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game,” Marchand summed up. “Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”
The Bruins will need to put this one behind them and turn their attention to Saturday’s game, when they will host the Toronto Maple Leafs. They would be wise to play hungry and get refocused, as Monday will find them on the road, taking on the Atlantic Division’s first place team—and their biggest rival—the Montreal Canadiens.