As a rule, I don’t get mad over shootout losses or giddy over shootout wins. So I’m not gonna bellyache over Claude’s selection order or Lucic’s lack of creativity because, as noted in this space many times over the years, games shouldn’t be decided this way (and as the coach noted after the game, “They suck”). But the Bruins‘ lack of finish, a problem all year, certainly caused frustration in last night’s 4-3 SO loss to Calgary.
After battling back to tie the wildly entertaining game at 3 on Loui Eriksson’s 15th of the year with 8:20 left, the next seven or so minutes were seemingly played in the Flames’ zone. It was a small measure of redemption for the Swede, who Wesley’d a wide-open net scoring chance earlier in the game. But thanks in large part to Karri Ramo, the Bs just couldn’t get the go-ahead goal. Eriksson was stuffed on a twirling backhand attempt. New Bruin Max Talbot had a chance to endear himself to his new fans with a point blank chance that Ramo snuffed. But Tuukka Rask’s countryman held the fort.
The Flames pressured Rask in the final minutes but, once again, he saved the Bruins bacon. It looked like deja vu all over again when a Rask save ended up bouncing onto the top of the net just like the last second loss in Calgary last month. But this time the puck took a Bruins bounce safely behind the net, allowing the Bruins to garner at least one point.
Fortunately for the Bs, Dallas beat Florida in a shootout so Boston was able to maintain its two-point lead over the Panthers (the Bs also have two games in hand). Philly (65 games played) and Ottawa (62 games played) are just behind Florida with 68 and 67 points, respectively. The Sens, buoyed by out-of-nowhere goalie Andrew Hammond and his awesome mask, have been particularly hot going 7-1-2 in their last 10 and suddenly find themselves in the thick of a playoff race.
At the end of the day, the Bs peeled another game off the calendar and were able to keep the same lead (taking positives where I can here). But like a guy screwing on Percocet, the team had trouble finishing and couldn’t lock up two points. They’ll look to put more space between themselves and the Flyers when Philly comes to town tomorrow for an afternoon matinee at what should be a fired-up Garden.
A few more buds for your weekend bowl…
*The Bruins announced this morning that Torey Krug and Reilly Smith each signed contract extensions. Krug signed a one-year, $3.4M deal to take him through the 2015-16 campaign. Smith re-upped for two more years at $3.425M that will take him through the 2016-17 season. Krug’s deal is certainly a reasonable one for a guy who provides the offense he does from the back end. Also, he’s a heart-and-soul player that plays much bigger than his frame. He could also earn himself a sizable raise in his next deal if he continues to get better. But Smith’s deal presupposes he’ll continue his progression as a second-line RW when we didn’t quite see that this year. Instead, Smith appeared to hit the wall and disappeared for stretches. I would’ve preferred to see him get a one-year deal for less than $3.4M to prove he can be more consistent rather than potentially get content now that he got paid (like a teammate or two). But Chiarelli loves locking up guys more than Joe Arpaio.
*The Bs did get balanced scoring last night, getting a goal each from the top three lines. In addition to Eriksson, Brad Marchand’s wrap-around gave him 19 goals on the year. Milan Lucic, who has had an extra bounce in his step since Ryan Spooner was inserted into David Krejci’s spot, tallied his 14th of the year (really). The Lucic-Spooner-David Pastrnak lines has looked pretty good the last few games in creating offensive chances for each other.
*Talbot played 10:56 in his debut and registered three shots on goal. He also logged 2:54 on the PK. I always dug his game going back to his Pittsburgh days and he’ll be so much more of a presence on this team than Jordan Caron was, both on the ice and in the room.
*Apologies for not mentioning this in an earlier blog but condolences to the friends and family of one-time Bruin Steve Montador, who tragically passed away a couple weeks ago at the age of 35. Just a terribly sad story about a universally-liked person. Here’s hoping that there are more services available to players after their playing days are over. The adjustment to a ‘normal’ life is something that can be very difficult for some guys. The NHL and NHLPA should do all they can to make the adjustment easier.