Tuesday, November 17, 2009
THE RETURN OF THE BIG BAD HABITS
Turnovers a mere 5 feet from their own net. Is there a more horrible sin in hockey? It's the equivalent of red zone interceptions for a quarterback, or lead-off walks for a pitcher. Actually, it's worse. The Bruins resorted to some of their bad habits from early October. Combined with another bland night of finishing scoring chances, and you get a 4-1 loss to the Islanders.
The Bruins have made goaltenders look very good this season. And why is that? Well, it's because they are good. NHL goalies don't mess up, they're good at everything a goalie needs to do, and if allowed to get in position, with a clear sight-line, they'll make saves on just about everything.
Without a player like Marc Savard, the Bruins lack the cleverness to create space, and ultimately draw goalies out of position. The things Savard can do are fractional, hardly noticeable elements of an equation. But hockey is a fractional game (as proven by Guerin's goal Saturday night with 2/5 of a second left).
The Bruins power play was 0 for 4, which includes a 95 second stretch of 5-on-3. The Bruins have scored 5 power play goals since the 2nd game of the season. That's where this team misses Savard.
But Savard's absence cannot be blamed for this loss. The turnovers were awful. Assignments were missed, particularly Bergeron's, and he's normally the best defensive forward on the roster.
Maybe it's frustration. The defense had been phenomenal lately. The penalty-kill unit has killed 38 of 39 penalties since October 17th. But this team has allowed itself to lose focus far too often this season. And we're no longer in the beginning of the year, we're in the middle. Things need to change quickly.
The Bruins begin a 4 game road-trip, which might help get their collective head back into the game. They play 10-6-1 Atlanta Thursday night.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa