Home cooking is usually the main ingredient that returns a ‘tired’ team back to success, but it was not the case Tuesday night at TD Garden, as the Bruins struggled to mount much of an attack versus the Calgary Flames. Back on home ice following a four-game road trip that ended with four games in three nights, as the locals delivered a dull, mediocre effort that ended with a disappointing loss, only their third loss on home ice, by a score of 5-2.
Coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t skirt the issue with his comments immediately following the game: “Clearly not good enough. I thought some guys came to play and some guys didn’t. Didn’t break a sweat, some of them it looked like. I’m sure there was effort, they were trying, they were just in between, couldn’t execute or whatever. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t good enough.” No reading between the lines necessary here.
Boston’s two goals provided a semi-lift, with Brad Marchand notching shorthanded goal #27 career-wise for him in the second period – and 25th of the season, tying the game at 1-1, as he continues as the Bruins’ all-time leader in shorthanded goals. A lull of one-minute and 12 seconds in Boston’s defense allowed Calgary’s Sean Monahan to put two pucks behind Tuukka Rask, widening the margin to 3-1 after two periods. Boston’s second goal came with less than seven minutes left in regulation, on a fourth line attack with Chris Wagner earning his sixth of the year, while on his stomach, sliding one past David Rittich into the Flames’ net to cut the score to 3-2. The crowd’s excitement was short-lived as Mikael Backlund found himself on a breakaway, and easily snapped the puck past Rask, regaining the Flames’ two-goal margin, then he put the final nail in Boston’s coffin with an empty net goal 41 seconds later.
Rask had several spots of outstanding play, despite giving up four goals while facing 30 shots, he now has surrendered ten goals in his last two performances (Vancouver and Calgary), and you begin to look for situations and patterns…very unlike Rask.
Tonight (Thursday) the Bruins will host the Dallas Stars (7:30 p.m.), who are presently chasing the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Western Conference. Boston heads out on a three-game road trip that will include stops in three Eastern Conference cities. The New York Islanders (6th in the Eastern Conference at press time), will supply the opposition on Saturday (7 p.m.), on Tuesday the second place Tampa Bay Lightning who have lost their last three after playing at a sizzling pace will host at 7:30pm, and the road trip will end with the Florida Panthers on Thursday (7:00pm). It is expected that each one of these four games will be tough, as at press time, each are in playoff position, with the exception of Florida who is on the cusp, just two points out of the final playoff position.
Coming into and following the NHL Trade Deadline, several teams have made formulated pushes to maintain or gain playoff spots in their respective conferences. Most notably, the Vegas Golden Knights have won six in a row and hold fourth place in the West, the St. Louis Blues have posted five victories in a row and hold onto first place in the West. In the East, both the New York Rangers who are just four points shy of a playoff spot, and the Philadelphia Flyers – solid in the fifth spot of the Eastern Conference, are riding four game win streaks. Boston continues to lead the NHL by five points over Tampa who has a game in hand. The Boston Bruins will host Hockey is for Everyone Night presented by TD Bank tonight (Thursday), Feb. 27, during their home game against the Dallas Stars at 7 p.m. at TD Garden. Hockey is for Everyone is an NHL initiative in partnership with You Can Play that uses the game of hockey – and the League’s global influence – to drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.