Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Games 56-57: Are The Bruins In Trouble?

The trip continues for the Boston Bruins.

With an awful 5-2 loss against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night, should the B's wait until after the road trip to make a trade/deal? Let's hope that they used the weekend to think about that; they cannot afford to stand pat and wait around. 

As important as it is to focus on the teams in front of them in the Eastern Conference standings, the B's need to be aware of the Florida Panthers. They were only three points behind Boston for that final playoff spot heading into the week. 

However, the focus was on Monday night and the Calgary Flames. Both the Bruins and Flames are fighting for the last Wild Card spot in their respective conferences. Although Calgary has turned into a surprise team this year, they are a legitimate squad built from the back out. This game had the potential for a high-octane and gritty affair.

Matt Bartkowski, who had not played since December 31, entered the lineup against the Flames and skated with Dennis Seidenberg. Tuukka Rask was in goal yet again for the B's. 

The Bruins turned a complete 180 from Friday; they got off to an explosive start. Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara (finally) recorded early tallies for the Black and Gold. Calgary would not go away, though. In fact, it has been awhile since the B's faced a team that was as relentless and aggressive as the Flames were on this night. Rask and the rest of the defense felt the onslaught of scoring chances from their stars (Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano, and Sean Monahan). 

At one point the Bruins possessed a 3-0 lead in this game, and the B's had a record of 10-0-0 when leading by three at any point this season. However, the Flames are one of the best third period plus/minus teams in the NHL. Which one prevailed? 

With Jiri Hudler netting a pair, Calgary came back to tie the game...and eventually stole the full two points in overtime. Unbelievable.  

On Wednesday night, the Bruins headed to Edmonton to take on the Oilers. Edmonton is the worst team in the Western Conference in terms of points, but sometimes those teams are the most dangerous. Hey, Boston: don't take these young guns lightly and play this game like it was the last game of the year. Points are at a premium.

Malcolm Subban was recalled from Providence earlier in the week and joined the team in Edmonton. Kevan Miller missed this game with a shoulder injury and he may miss significant time since he was sent back to Boston for the rest of this trip. Adam McQuaid was inserted in his place. With Rask undefeated against the Oilers in his career, the B's were hoping to pick up their 14th consecutive win in the series with him back between the pipes. 

Well, the start was pathetic. The B's fell behind 2-0 just minutes into the first period. They have now allowed the first goal in six out of the last seven contests. Aside from one goal scored by Loui Eriksson on a "new-look" power play, Boston did not play with any intensity in the first period.

It took the Bruins to get down by two goals to finally get it together. They started to play harder and rack up scoring chances as the game progressed. Reilly Smith and Chara netted a goal each in a span of 1:35 to tie the game at three heading into the final 20 minutes. The game eventually went into overtime (an extra period that was absolutely dominated by Boston) and then into a shootout. After 12 rounds, Edmonton ended the game on the stick of Martin Marincin to take the two points.

Playing catch-up hockey was too much for the Bruins. Another overtime loss on this road trip. Boy, this team needs a win. 

Game four of the road trip will be played on Friday night against the St. Louis Blues.

Gold Star (combined): Zdeno Chara...With a goal and assist over these two games, albeit against weaker competition, the captain played well. He was actually a force in the defensive zone. 

Black Star (combined): Tuukka Rask...Seven goals allowed in two games is a bad stretch for any goaltender. He has played well lately, but this week has been rough for him.

Game Fifty-Six Box Score

Game Fifty-Seven Box Score

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