Monday, January 10, 2011
MISTAKES AND GHOSTS HAUNT BRUINS
You can't get much closer to winning than the Bruins were Saturday night. They outplayed the Habs for a good 50 minutes, getting to loose pucks, winning battles on the boards, playing great in all three zones. Montreal's two regulation goals came off skates, not sticks. One off Chara's, one off Gionta's. Both seemed to slither over Thomas's leg pads as if they had a will of their own. Freakish, to say the least.
Speaking of Chara, he was half a foot (one sixth of a meter in Quebec) from ending the game with an empty-net goal. But that play actually epitomizes the Bruins' collapse, as he wasn't trying to shoot the puck at all. 200 feet from the net, he tried to loft the puck into the neutral zone, hoping it would settle there and the Bruins could change skaters. He got too much power behind it, and it went all the way down the ice, nearly scoring, but missing and becoming an icing call. Montreal scored off the ensuing faceoff. So Chara's near-miss was actually a full mistake.
And so was the tripping penalty on Ryder. Wisniewski's dive had all the subtlety of Sean Penn in I Am Sam, but it was still a mistake for Ryder to be flailing his stick at Wisniewski's ankles, especially since he was 120 feet from the goal. Then there was Wheeler's hooking penalty in overtime, about 190 feet from the goal. It's just stupid to be committing basic stick infractions that far from danger.
The Bruins' Power Play was dreadful. I don't expect them to score more than 18% of the time, but they need to do better at getting shots on net. Make the opposing PK unit work, make the goalie work.
I stated above that the Bruins outplayed Montreal for most of this game, and that's true. But mostly because Montreal played like crap for the first 40 minutes. They whiffed on shots, turned the puck over in bad areas, and committed dumb penalties. If not for Price, they would have been in a much deeper hole.
In other words, the Bruins got to those loose pucks and won those battles because Montreal brought their C-Game to the 1st and 2nd periods. That's not much to be proud of.
The Bruins haven't beaten Montreal since last February. Technically, they're still in 1st due to tie-breakers, despite an embarrassing 5-4-3 record within the Division. They're in Pittsburgh tonight, and I'm not too confident, with or without Crosby dressing for the Penguins.