BOSTON – While the Bruins weren’t hanging their heads after losing the second overtime game of a Stanley Cup Final that’s tied at 2-2, there was plenty of admission that their efforts in the opening period need to be better.
Much like Game 2, when the Chicago Blackhawks overwhelmed the Bruins in the first period with their sheer speed and skill level, the Blackhawks opened Wednesday night’s Game 4 by outshooting the Bruins 12-3 and scored first on a shorthanded breakaway that punched Boston right in the stomach.
The Bruins and Blackhawks are even in first period scoring in the series at two goals apiece, but the Blackhawks have out-shot the Bruins by a 49-35 margin in the first periods in the series. Plus, they've completely outplayed the Bruins during the first period in two of the last three games.
That’s something Claude Julien and the Bruins struggled with during the regular season, and they know they must address it swiftly if they want to win.
“I think if there's one thing in this series so far, they've definitely had the better starts. That's an area where we keep talking about having a better start,” said Julien. “They've had the advantage on us in that department, and we're working on hopefully having some better starts.
“There's a maximum of three games left. Hopefully we get better starts in those games.”
It was pretty clearly a theme in the B’s dressing room as well, as a confident group of players weren’t shaken by another overtime loss.
They also know that Tuukka Rask has been brilliant in the first period with a .959 save percentage that’s turned away many of Chicago’s best chances when they storm the net nearly.
But the Bruins know they need to be better against Chicago at the United Center, and it starts with being prepared to play right off the drop of the puck.
“For the most part, we’ve done a good job weathering their starts, but it would be nice if for once we put some of the pressure on them to start the game,” said Brad Marchand. “If we do that it could kind of turn things around.”
It should be doubly important for the Black and Gold going into enemy territory where Chicago will attempt to ride their new-found momentum off of another overtime win. It’s up to the Bruins to bring their ‘A’ game in the first period, and take some of that momentum back for the remaining three games in this winner-take-trophy series.