Julien: Capitals were simply the better team

745682.jpg

Julien: Capitals were simply the better team

BOSTON -- Its difficult to make arguments that the better team didnt win in a playoff series that set a league-record with each of the seven games ultimately being decided by a one-goal margin.

So the Bruins didnt try that after falling to the Washington Capitals in overtime, 2-1, on Wednesday night when Joel Ward banged home the game-winner at the TD Garden. The Bruins scored one goal or less four times in the series, dropped three games on home ice and held the lead after the first period only once in the seven games series.

Instead the Capitals frustrated the Bruins with their shot-blocking and defense around goaltender Braden Holtby. In each game, they simply packed in their defense once theyd built up a lead.

It happens a lot, right? I think both teams battled very hard, said Tim Thomas when asked if he was surprised how close the series remained up until the bitter end. They stuck to their game plan. They made it very difficult for us to generate any offense or any momentum with the style that they played.

What it says about our guys is that theyre battlers and theyre . . . well . . . theyre still champions. And they gave everything they had to the bitter end. Unfortunately this is sports and they fell short this time.

Dale Hunter deserved a great deal of credit for getting the oft-times selfish and stat-oriented Capitals players to buy into the defensive system he was selling. The proof was in the pudding during the tightest seven game series in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Claude Julien was asked about a missed chance on a power play at the end of the third period that could have clinched it for Boston, but his answer drifted into an admission that the Capitals were the team that deserved to advance.

When you look at the whole picture, I think it was more than not scoring on power plays, said Claude Julien. At the end of the series, you look at their team, and you look at ours, and they were the better team. They had more guys going than we did, and they played us tough.

At times during the series the Bruins showed the physicality and emotion that marks their game at the height of its powers, and both Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin heated up offensively at different points in the seven game series. But Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand never truly found their way offensively, and none of the Bruins could consistently get to the net to fluster 22-year-old Caps goaltender.

Even Thomas had his moments of weakness while barely cracking the top 10 in save percentage among playoff goaltenders. Neither of the two goals scored in Wednesdays series finale against the Bruins were Thomas' fault, but the fact remains that he wasn't good enough to carry his team to the next round. None of the Bruins were. It's why they're out of the running to repeat as Stanley Cup champs.

Talking points from Bruins' 2-1, overtime win in Detroit

bruins-ryan-spooner.jpg

Talking points from Bruins' 2-1, overtime win in Detroit

GOLD STAR: Solid night’s work from Ryan Spooner, who finished with the OT game-winning strike and was solid throughout the game as the de facto No. 1 center. He had four shots on net, six generated shot attempts and won 12-of-19 face offs as he continues to improve in that area while training camp rolls along. Spooner is trying to hold onto the No. 3 center spot in the lineup despite the addition of David Backes via free agency, and Friday night’s big boy performance with speed, playmaking and skill showed exactly what his potential can be when he puts it all together. It was also a nice little bounce-back from an up-and-down game on Wednesday night against the same Detroit team when he struggled in the face off circle and was part of a team-wide malaise.

BLACK EYE: It wasn’t necessarily a bad night for Brian Ferlin, but it was more of the invisible variety with just a registered hit and one face-off taken in 13 minutes of ice time. The forward earned some NHL time with the Bruins a couple of years, has battled concussion woes over the last year plus and is trying to push his way back into the crowded forward picture during this training camp. While he certainly showed some toughness and skill around the net a couple of years and didn’t seem shy about going there on Friday night, the results just weren’t there and Ferlin didn’t have much of a presence in the game. In general it was a pretty decent performance for the Bruins, so Ferlin’s game was quiet more than problematic.

TURNING POINT: Credit the Bruins coaching staff for switching up the lines in the third period, and that sparked the offense a bit after zero goals through the first 40 minutes against Detroit. Zach Senyshyn was moved with Danton Heinen and Riley Nash, and they became a threat in the third period before Heinen broke through for the game-tying goal from his knees. That score allowed the B’s to push things into overtime, and then Spooner made it a quick extra session by snapping home a shot from the slot after a good effort from Joe Morrow down low. It all was made possible by the adjustment to the lines that took place between the second and the third periods.

HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Morrow is battling to hold onto his NHL roster spot with the Bruins, and that is absolutely underscored by the news that Christian Ehrhoff is being brought to Boston on a PTO. So it was expected that the young D-man would come out with something a little extra after a mediocre performance in his preseason debut, and the left shot D-man was an impact player in the win for the Black and Gold. Morrow dropped the gloves with young tough guy Givani Smith in the second period as part of a B’s group that played with a little bit of an edge on Friday night, and then he won a battle down low in overtime to set up the Ryan Spooner game-winner. Morrow had two hits, two shot attempts, the assist and the fight in 19:48 of ice time, and showed that he’s ready to battle in camp to hold onto his spot.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of goals in two preseason games thus far for Danton Heinen, who scored important game-tying goals in both instances in the shootout loss to the Blue Jackets and Friday night’s overtime win against the Wings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “The compete level, especially when he got down 4-0 [on Wednesday night], I don’t think it was high enough. So we talked about it, and we expect a better effort for sure.” –Ryan Spooner on Friday morning prior to going out and snatching the win away from the Red Wings in Detroit with an OT game-winner. 

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

bruins-christian-ehrhoff.jpg

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.