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Lost Weekend For Bruins As They Squander Two Chances To Take Atlantic Division Lead

The Bs had a golden opportunity over the weekend to not only move in to the Atlantic’s top spot but also give themselves a small cushion. Instead, they blew a 3-1 third period lead to the woeful Sabres (who netted five unanswered goals—2 ENGs) in their ugliest breakdown of the season on Saturday. And though they responded with a much better effort in Kanata last night, Brett Connolly’s lazy neutral zone play led to Ottawa’s eventual GWG as the Bs dropped a 3-1 decision to stay mired in fourth place.

Saturday night was just a disaster. The team just stopped playing with a lead, figuring the Sabres would roll over for them. But local lad Jack Eichel had other ideas. Jonas Gustavssson, who has been a pretty solid back-up thus far, looked like the wrong kind of monster in the crease as the team D broke down everywhere. Last night they had a good effort, outshooting the Sens 39-22 and playing well enough to win but the bounces went the other way. Rask was beat by a shot of his D-man’s skate and a rebound in the slot (people blaming Rask for not directing the shot into the corner must not get that players shoot at specific areas on the goalie in an attempt to induce just such a rebound).

Still, I can’t beat up on this team too much because of their current three game losing streak. Seemingly wandering in the wilderness for the early part of the season, the Bs snapped out of their funk to go on a nice run to inject them back into the Wales’s cut-throat playoff race. While not a perfect team, their play during their point streak showed that they are indeed going to be in the mix in the East.

Under Claude (who has been really good so far this season), this squad has been able to forget hiccups like this and get back to business and I expect the same when Ottawa comes into town to complete the home-and-home tomorrow night. The battle for the division is going to be a slobberknocker and the stretch run is going to be a blast. And the Bruins will be just fine.

A few more buds for your Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/kwazy Kwanzaa/tip-top Tet/solemn and dignified Ramadan bowl…

*The Bs elected to let David Pastrnak join the Czech National Team for the World Junior tourney and I have no issues with it. It was either that or go to Providence to play himself back into game shape after breaking a bone in his foot. But Don Sweeney opted to let the talented youngster go to Finland to hopefully goose his confidence playing against peers rather than ride buses in the AHL. The GM is essentially hoping Pasta does what he did last year when he was one of team’s best performers when he returned after the junior tourney. I certainly understand the argument to keep him in the Bruins system but it’s not like a two week conditioning stint is going to adversely affect his development all that much, if at all. As for worries about injury, that is ever present no matter where he plays or which jersey he is wearing. Regardless, he’s gonna be a nice player for the Bruins to just insert into their line-up.

*Torey Krug left Saturday’s game after suffering some sort of non-contact injury and his absence was quite noticeable last night on the team’s power play. One of the team great competitors on the team, Krug was skating this morning so it doesn’t appear to be a long-term type of thing.

*Episode 2 of Road to the Winter Classic was pretty damn good. I like the way they used former national team teammates turned hated rivals P.K. Subban and Brad Marchand to segue into the team stories. The Jimmy Hayes segment was pretty cool. It showed the Dot Rat swinging by the St. Brendan’s parish area, seeing his Ma at home, and his Dad at the fabled Eire Pub. Max Talbot assuring Ryan Spooner that the team would gladly kill Spooner’s penalty (for sticking up for Dennis Seidenberg after a hit) was good shit. Talbot’s a funny guy that teammates love so I’d like to see a lot more of him.

marchsanta                                   “Nice?!? Ho, ho ho, that’s a good one, Brad.”

*Just kidding, Marchy. Marchand has cut down on the naughty and has given us plenty of nice this season. He’s been one of the team’s best and most consistent performers.

*On the other hand, Connolly needs to get his head out of his ass. His awful neutral zone turnover ended up being the difference in the game. Shit, I could score 10 goals playing with Bergy and Marchy (not really) so if he can’t get going on that line, I don’t know where he’ll produce. He occasionally shows flashes and has a nice shot but zero consistency. There’s still a lot of time in the season so he may get it going. Otherwise, his stay in Boston could end up being a quick one.

*Conversely, Matt Beleskey has been the Budd of this team. He plays his ass off and does all the little things that don’t show up on the scoresheet but he’s been cursed when it comes to putting the puck over the goal line. Maybe Connolly should watch and follow his lead on how to compete harder.

*Here’s a nice read on the underappreciated Claude Julien by Kirk Luedeke (who you really should be following if you’re a Bs fan). Claude is all class and on track to be the best Bruins coach ever. Maybe others will start to recognize him a little more as well.