The Bruins traveled to Pittsburgh for a pair and dropped the opener 4-1 to the rapidly improving Penguins. Now holding a slim 1-point lead over the Flyers for the last playoff spot in the East Divison, the Bruins need to figure it out in a hurry. This team that started out 10-2-1 in their first 13 games is now 6-5-2 in their last 13 on the schedule.
A team and a season has it’s ebbs and flows: some days your goalie steals you 2 points, sometimes he can’t. Some nights your top line can win you a game; some nights they get shut down. Unfortunately both happened at the same time tonight. Jaro Halak would be the first to admit that he’d like the first 2 back. Both could be classified as “leaky goals”, the first off his glove and the 2nd (only 1:43 later – ouchie) under the glove. The team needs to pick up their goalie when he has an off night. Halak hasn’t been a bona-fide #1 netminder since his Islander days and so far this year, he’s been exceeding expectations, but he’s not going to be perfect. Outside of your beer league, no goalie is going 82-0 (or 56-0 this year).
Noted hockey analyst Derek Sanderson used to say in his “Keys to the Game” segments back in the old TV38 days: “you have to score more than the other guys”.
You’re not beating Sid, Geno, Letang and company with 1 goal on 43 shots. It’s too many guys blasting away from outside and not enough working the puck down low for the gimme plays that defined the early part of the season for the Bruins. Outside of the power play, the Bruins had no looks and no puck luck. David Pastrnak missed at least 2 wide open nets, Jake DeBrusk with not one but two walk in attempts shorthanded and nothing to show for it. The wrong guys are getting all the shots. The Erection Line can’t get it up every night, it’s up to the other top lines to get it going. At this point, the entire room has to feel the pressure to get on the scoresheet. These guys hear how Don Sweeney answers the questions. All anyone is talking about is the need for secondary and 5on5 scoring. The time to step it up is now.
The tempo of the game was what the Bruins have been looking for. The Bruins were playing with pace: crisp passing and physical play. Karson Kuhlman added a jolt to the 4th line and flopping Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith looked hopeful. An early PPG by Matt Grzelcyk got the boys going and it looked like they were off to the races. Then, those 2 softies. The Bruins tried to claw back in, and they were generating chances, but they couldn’t finish. That’s been the issue, the same old song and dance. The Bruins have been looking for a consistent 2nd line since the days when Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic were riding David Krecji’s wings.
Halak has been bailing them out all season, and they needed to pick him up tonight. The boys are back at it tomorrow night against the Pens. Bruce Cassidy has already announced that Halak won’t play back to back on this trip, so it looks like it’s gonna be Dan Vlader in the net. Hope the boys show up for him.
I’ve decided to eschew with the Plus/Minus and Game Notes for this post in order to devote a little space to a Boston area icon that recently passed away. Marvelous Marvin Hagler was, in my humble opinion, the best middleweight boxer in the history of the sport. He reigned supreme from 1980 – 1987 as the undisputed middleweight champion of the world. He held all the belts and all the titles. This was before the days of picking your opponent, Hagler came up the hard way and he ducked no challenger. He defended his crown 12 times and retired with a professional record of 62-3-2 with 52KO’s. He was credited with having one of the “toughest chins” in the history of boxing and his only professional knockdown is still being disputed. Hagler ended his career with a dubious split decision loss to Sugar Ray Leonard (it was a bullshit judge’s decision and I’ll argue it with anyone until the day I die, fuck Sugar Ray) and never looked back. He retired to the Italian countryside and became an action movie star until he relocated to New Hampshire where he lived out his days. As ferocious as he was in the ring, he was as gracious out of it. I had the unbelievable good fortune to run into him once at the Newark Airport and after waving me past his bodyguards, he sat down and talked to me for a good 20 minutes. Answered all of my idiotic questions and asked me about myself on a number of topics. I’ve attached the first round of his epic fight with Tommy “The Hit Man” Hearns, widely regarded as the best opening round in a fight ever, and another highlight video I found. Do yourself a favor and spend some time searching out his fights and bask in the controlled fury and channelled aggression that was Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Rest In Power Champ.