After the lost week in California that saw the Bruins go 0-for-3 against the Campbell iron, the team visited Madison Square Garden last night to get back on the winning track. Instead, the Bs inexplicably got off to yet another slow start as the Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on two power play goals and never looked back en route to a 5-2 spanking. Tuukka Rask, who has been battling some type of illness, did not return for the second period.
Both first period goals came on frustrating calls. Jimmy Hayes became the latest victim of the physics of non-wood sticks when his stick check broke Eric Staal’s twig, resulting in a slashing call instead of just being a solid defensive play. Still, it’s a call we see all the time and can live with it by now. But the second power play for the Rags was horseshit when David Krejci was whistled for holding Chris Kreider when he was trying to get past the New York forward to backcheck. It was the epitome of a chintzy call so naturally the Rangers scored on their power play. It wasn’t like refs called everything tight as they watched Lee Stempniak get buried from behind in what should have been a charging call if Krejci “held” Kreider.
But the refs didn’t lose this game for the Bruins—they did it themselves. Last night was the ‘bad cop’ version of the squad that we’ve seen way too much of. Lazy passes. Mental errors. Subpar efforts. The same shit they always do when they have one of these stinkers. This team knows what they have to do to compete each game yet sometimes they have a collective brain fart.
Lee Stempniak had a goal called back after the Rangers used their challenge to say that the Bruins were offside and they indeed were. He did get it back a bit later when he tapped in a slick Brad Marchand feed after Patrice Bergeron’s steal just inside the blue line. But then Stempniak got jobbed again when he beat Hank again and the puck actually crossed the goal line during Henrik Lundqvist’s ‘save’ but the ref said there was “no evidence” the puck crossed the line (when he probably meant “not enough” because there most certainly was evidence).
To their credit, the Bs did bring a better effort as the game went on, tallying 32 shots in the last two periods (including 18 in the third). They made it semi-interesting when recently called-up Frank Vatrano did what he was brought up to do and sniped one past Hank to make it 4-2 with about eight minutes left. But Rick Nash’s empty-netter with just under three minutes left put a bow on this latest loss.
Suddenly, the Bruins are as close to the #9 slot as they are to first place in their division for the first time in awhile. That’s what happens when you go a week without winning in the NHL. It’s no real mystery what they need to do, as it never really is with this team. They need to focus, bring emotional intensity, and just compete. I don’t think the sky is falling and it’s not panic time. But the Bs need to get back to basics and their winning ways. They get a crack at it tonight as the Panthers pay a visit for a huge divisional tilt.
A few more buds for your bowl…
*Neponset Blues. Last night was the latest head-to-head meeting between the Brothers Hayes. The siblings have a lot in common this season and it’s nothing either of them wants anything to do with. They’ve both struggled for their teams and have heard it from their respective fan bases and media. Kevin hasn’t provided the offensive pop that the Rags were counting on him for and Jimmy found himself a healthy scratch on the last road trip. The best way to wipe out a shitty regular season is by having a monster playoffs and that’ll be one way for the brothers to get back in everyone’s good graces (front office and fans).
*I don’t know if he’s hurt or not but David Krejci hasn’t been contributing nearly what he should be on the offensive end. We’ve seen little of the dominant pivot we did in the winter and one hopes he’s just conserving himself somewhat for the playoffs, the time when he has really shined. But if he doesn’t find another gear next month, an already-daunting playoff task gets that much tougher.
*There was a great sequence in the first with Matt Beleskey and Tanner Glass. Glass buried Beleskey with a clean hit by the boards and Beleskey took exception. He chopped Glass in the calf to get his attention, presumably uttered “wanna go?”, then scrapped with the Ranger before ‘losing’ via decision. Just a pure hockey moment where one guy gets pissed off and another guy obliges his desire to avenge.
*Noel Acciari has been a solid find for the fourth line. His physicality has been a welcome addition and the former Providence Friar’s defensive work is atypical of NHL rookies.
*If you missed it, here’s Episode 5 of Spittin’ Chiclets.