Sunday, March 22, 2015

Games 72-73: Slumping Out of Contention

The Boston Bruins are slipping, while the NHL's hottest team continues to gain ground on them for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Coming off a horrendous loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, the B's looked to right the ship over the weekend with this back-to-back set through the state of Florida. Up first was the previously mentioned scorching team, the Panthers.

You know, the Bruins still controlled their own playoff destiny heading into Saturday evening. They had to possess the mindset that if they lost both games, they would no longer be in control of such fate. Please win a meaningful game for once. The Panthers were only five points back of Boston heading into this upcoming game. 

What was ironic about Thursday is that we gripe about this team not scoring enough goals, yet they popped in four against the best goaltender in the NHL right now in Andrew Hammond. The problem was that they allowed six goals, so the defense/goaltending was the issue. It is like they choose on any random night to focus on one aspect of their game. Just be more consistent all around. 

Anyway, David Krejci could have been the answer to this mess of a week. We are still waiting on his return. What was encouraging is that B's head coach Claude Julien stated that Ryan Spooner will not be heading back to Providence due to his stellar play as of late--he has posted four goals and five assists in the month of March. Here is the brief story:

Ryan Spooner Staying With Team

As if there was any doubt, Tuukka Rask was between the pipes for Boston as he opposed old friend Roberto Luongo. Reilly Smith was scratched for this one after an absolutely horrible week. He was replaced by Brian Ferlin. 

After the Panthers jumped out to an early lead, the Bruins decided to play the physical card. The Panthers did one heck of a job matching that type of intensity because Florida knew that it needed this game to save the season. Patrice Bergeron netted the tying goal in the second period on the power play, setting up one heck of a final 20 minutes. Bergeron's goal was the 20th of the season, the sixth time in his career that he has reached that plateau. 

In the third period, Rask was out of his mind and stopped six humongous goal scoring opportunities by the Panthers. It was because of him that the game was tied at the end of regulation, especially with Dougie Hamilton leaving the game at the end of the second period. By night's end, this game belonged to the Panthers. They took the full two points by winning this one in the shootout. Silver lining: the B's picked up a point. 

To close out the weekend and this three-game road trip, the Black and Gold took on the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins had a choice here: Should they focus on playing spoiler to a team chasing the division crown or try to increase their lead in the quest for the second wild card spot? How about both? 

The team had to recall Zach Trotman from Providence on an emergency basis and inserted him into the lineup due to the status of Hamilton. Smith was back in as well, but it did not help on this day. 

If you look at the stat sheet, you will see that shots, scoring chances, and hits will appear to be the same for each team. That is incredibly deceiving. The Lightning made the Bruins look like this was a one-sided affair. The Bolts scored four unanswered goals through the first two periods, chasing Rask from goal. Costly mistakes combined with a lack of effort made for an embarrassing 5-3 loss to conclude the road trip. The Bruins have put themselves in a spot where they can fall out of the playoff picture in the coming days. 

We have now hit the single-digit mark in remaining games left on the schedule. The Bruins will not play again until Thursday when they play host to the Anaheim Ducks. 

Gold Star (combined): Patrice Bergeron....Two goals over the weekend to accompany a solid couple of games at the face-off dot. He was one of the few players who played hard for every minute. 

Black Star (combined): Carl Soderberg...He reverted back to his old ways and did not produce any solid scoring chances. He could be the next one watching the games from the press box.

Game Seventy-Two Box Score

Game Seventy-Three Box Score

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