by Bob Morello
Bruins look to start new win streak
The saying is: “All good things must come to an end.” I’m not a believer of that saying, but the Bruins’ back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Columbus, for the first time since December, does make one ponder that statement. The pair of losses came at the hands of two teams that are fighting to make the playoffs, so it does add to the equation, but not enough so that Boston was not in a position to win either game. In the 7-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Bs allowed them five quick goals for a 5-1 lead halfway through the game, when Boston was able to score three unanswered goals to close the gap to 5-4, it looked like – ‘game on!’ Despite a power play opportunity, Boston drew a penalty themselves, and the Jackets went on to capitalize on their extra man advantage by putting one in the net to regain their two-goal lead 6-4. Boone Jenner packed some firepower for Columbus, scoring a goal in each period for a ‘hat trick.’
With Tuukka Rask having been pulled after giving up goal number five in the second period, one would think that he had been playing badly, but the fact is that Rask deserved better, as he was afforded little or no support from his defensive corps. His excellent performances that earned him the 16-0-3 streak, came to an end in Columbus, but he was not the sole problem. With Jaroslav Halak in goal for Boston, the team put forth a stronger effort, as he held on, giving the team a chance to come back. But once again, lack of secondary scoring came to the surface, Patrice Bergeron had put in his fourth shorthanded goal of the season just four minutes into the game for a 1-0 margin. After five goals by Columbus, it was a drought for the Bs until Brad Marchand notched goal #29 at 13:07 of the second to make it 5-2 and opened the floodgates for Chris Wagner to put up his 12th goal, and Marchand contributed again, his 30th of the season, to tighten things up at 5-4, and a chance to tie the score.
As mentioned earlier, the defense corps, still lacking the injured Matt Grzelcyk and Kevin Millar, two key components, did not play well. So much so that it led to the benching of Torey Krug, who sat out much of the second period, tallying a minus-5, and nothing on the scoresheet. The youngsters, Peter Cehlarik (0-shots) and Trent Frederic (2-shots and a -2), also showed little promise during their time on ice.
On the plus side, Marchand hit the 30-goal mark for the fourth consecutive season, adding his name to an exclusive Bruins list that includes, Phil Esposito, Ricky Middleton, Johnny Bucyk, Peter McNab and current Bruins president, Cam Neely. As usual, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy pulled out some positives from the game, “We made it a game going into the third period down a goal, and gave ourselves a chance to win the game.” Cassidy also admitted that the team needs to do a lot of things better. Kudos to Charlie McAvoy who showed a lot of heart, and fight, taking on Artemi Panarin, to generate a spark for his team’s comeback.
Boston’s three-game road trip, which started badly with two losses, will not get much easier this week, as they face the Winnipeg Jets tonight (Thursday at 8:00pm), to close out their brief road trip. The Jets currently hold first place in the Central Division, and the third spot in the Western Conference standings. On Saturday (3/16 at 7:00pm), the Bruins will have a chance to extract some revenge as the Blue Jackets visit TD Garden, and the locals enjoy the comforts of home. Following Saturday’s contest, the Bruins will embark on another road trip, this time playing four games in seven days (New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, and the Tampa Bay Lightning).