The Bruins played a pair of road games this weekend. As to be expected, they looked like completely different teams from night to night.
On Friday, in Chicago, they stole a point in what eventually became a 5-4 shootout loss. The Blackhawks boast a pretty talented team this season, and had 21,717 fans supporting them Friday night. David Krejci had his 2nd career multi-goal game, the other also came on December 18, in 2008 when he registered a hat-trick against Toronto.
The Bruins allowed a staggering 44 shots on goal, and allowed Chicago's offense too much space and time. It wasn't the defense-in-depth that we've been accustomed to here since Julien took over. But a point in Chicago is a nice early Christmas gift.
Then Saturday night, it was just sad. Rask was decent, but allowed a silly goal to trickle between his legs. But the real horror show was the offense. Apart from breakaways, the Bruins hardly pressured Jonas Gustavsson, who made 25 saves on his way to his first career shutout.
The Bruins' offensive woes are caused by multiple things. Here are some that were evident Saturday night:
1) Too many stupid penalties:
Toronto had 6 power plays. And although they were 0 for 6, that's a significant chunk of the game spent in your own zone, not focusing on scoring goals. It's also a waste of potential offensive minutes for some of your key offensive players (Sturm, Savard, Wheeler, Chara, Krejci). Two Bruins' power plays were abbreviated by their own penalties. And these were really stupid penalties too.
2) No battles won along the boards:
You miss guys like Lucic in this area. Some players, like Bitz and Sobotka, can consistently go into a corner and come out with a puck. But with most of the Bruins, it's about a 50/50 bet. It gets to the point that you don't want to do it at all, because you don't want to give up possession so easily.
3) Too many shots into traffic:
How can this be a bad thing? Well, when the opposing defensive players are the traffic, your long-range shots become interceptions. Toronto blocked 21 shots (the B's got 25 to the net). Very frequently, those shots turned into breakaways for them, like the 3-on-2 that resulted in their 2nd goal. Morris, and now Chara, shoot too much from the points. They don't have shooting lanes, yet still let it fly.
In fact, the Bruins rarely shoot at the net, they shoot TOWARD the net, in the general direction of the net. That recent offensive drought seemed to convince them that it's impossible to shoot at the net and score. You have to shoot toward the net, hope for a deflection or rebound. And while there's nothing wrong with that, if 100% of your offense is slap-and-hope, you won't score as often as you should.
The Bruins are in Ottawa tonight. Think it's cold here? It'll be 11 degrees up there when the puck drops at 7:30.
Johnny Boychuck is now among the ranks of my favorite Bruins.