Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bruins Start Their Southern Road Trip

The Bruins have dominated most of the Eastern Conference this season, going 11-2-0 within the Northeast Division, and 6-1-0 against the Atlantic. But the Southeast has given them problems. The B's were 4-4-0 against that division before starting this trip.

The Hurricanes have been the most troublesome, even though they're struggling to stay in the playoff picture. They beat the Bruins twice earlier in the year, and completed the hat-trick on Saturday night.

The Canes are fast. The Bruins struggle against such speed. It's not that they can't keep up, it's that they underestimate how quickly these fast opponents can close passing lanes, get to loose pucks, and make plays.

On Saturday, for instance, Gregory Campbell thought he had all the time and space in the world to skate with the puck in his own defensive zone. A fast Hurricane caught up to him, took the puck, and eventually the puck found its way into the net.

In that same game, the B's frequently panicked in their own zone and flicked the puck into space. That's rarely a good thing to do, and it's even worse when facing a speedy opponent who will inevitably get to that loose puck first and make a play.

Ultimately, the Hurricanes outworked the Bruins. The B's were a bit too comfortable, a bit too complacent, and Carolina didn't ease up and let them come back and win it in the 3rd.

The Bruins rarely lose a 3rd period, but they did Saturday night in Raleigh. So I expected to see them come out firing in the 1st last night. They didn't disappoint. Bergeron scored 80 seconds after the puck dropped.

Then more bad habits reappeared kept the game interesting. The Bruins struggled with their entry, frequently losing possession at their offensive blue-line. If not for Rask bailing them out, this game could have been ugly.

Krejci, Seguin, and Bergeron eventually gave the Bruins a lead on a 5-on-3. Krejci won a puck battle, then Seguin circumnavigated the entire zone. It was refreshing to see the Bruins moving bodies on the Power Play, not just playing connect the dots by standing still and passing the puck around. Seguin's shot/pass was adeptly tipped in by Bergeron, who was unnoticed lurking in the slot while the Panthers were mesmerized by Seguin's orbit.

But the lead was short-lived. Florida scored on a post-PP breakaway. And if it weren't for Rask, the Bruins might have lost this game in the 3rd.

Rask kept them in the game with 38 stops. Krejci eventually scored the shootout winner. So while officially his point-streak is over, he still won the game by shooting the puck into the net. Odd how that works out.

The Bruins play the Lightning tonight. Tampa Bay are dead last in the Southeast and have allowed more goals than any team in the NHL.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

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