Monday, February 23, 2009
The Bruins went on vacation in Florida, both off and on the ice. Two games in the Sunshine State, two defeats, zero points. And Washington's getting larger in the review mirror.
So what happened? Why did a trip through the Southleast Division, which the Bruins had owned, turn into a nightmare. What should have been a roadtrip like Sherman's March turned into the Peninsular Campaign. Hooray for obscure Civil War references.
Last night it was in Tampa Bay. The lowly Lightning, in their putrid uniforms, made a stand against the Bruins. A 3rd string goalie stopped 40 shots. And an injury riddled opponent lit the lamp 4 times.
The Bruins came out with fire and focus. Phil Kessel scored 98 seconds into the game, ending a long goalless drought. But the B's lost their edge. Lacidasical defense and downright horrible goaltending led to 2 quick Tampa Bay goals. The Bruins looked the better team for the rest of the game, but Tampa had the luck of deflections, and the B's didn't.
Saturday night in Miami it was a similar story. Another opposing goalie boosted their save percentage. Thomas Vokoun stopped all 41 shots he saw. The Bruins went 0 for 6 on the power play, had the better chances, but couldn't finish.
The offense isn't closing posessions with goals. And it's a team-wide problem. Phil Kessel finally scored again, so hopefully his production will increase. But Marc Savard, who made no mistakes from October to January, has suddenly become a turnover machine. His passes hit skates, not sticks. He makes low percentage passes near the blue-line, touching off rushes the other way.
The absence of Michael Ryder can't be understated. Ryder, Krejci, and Wheeler were a perfect unit on the ice. Now that line has become less of a factor. Or maybe it just seems that way with the Savard-Kessel-Lucic unit going through a monumental slump.
But there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. As stated above, Kessel ended his goalless streak. Chara and the other defenders are looking sharp. Milan Lucic is back to bending the boards. Shawn Thornton got in a fight, ending a team streak of 8 fightless games, the longest streak of the season. The team is coming home for 6 straight.
They'll get their act together.
AP Photo/Mike Carlson