Passive top Bruins line frustrates Julien in loss

Passive top Bruins line frustrates Julien in loss
March 13, 2013, 1:45 am
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PITTSBURGH – It hasn’t been the most productive of times for Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and David Krejci over the last few games, and their recent lull came to a head in Tuesday night’s collapse to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Lucic, Horton and Krejci were held off the scoreboard, stuck out on the ice for two of Pittsburgh’s three goals and managed only four shots on net in Boston’s 3-2 loss to the Pens at CONSOL Energy Center.

Claude Julien said he watched a scoring forward line that passed the puck rather than attacking with sustained pressure or a hard-working cycle game – and it appeared to frustrate him.

“For some reason our top line was over-passing and we weren’t getting any shots on net. So it was hard to create any more offense once we had that 2-0 lead,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “In the third it was about playing our best period and not playing on our heels. We made some really, really bad decisions in the third period. We gave them that game when we had control of it.”

Lucic has only one goal in his last 13 games, and has managed only three shots on net in his last five games. Those are paltry numbers for a former 30-goal scorer, and Lucic had zero shots and only one registered hit in 16:21 of ice time against the Penguins.

So it’s difficult to discern exactly what he was doing for 60 minutes on Tuesday night after not enjoying one of his best games Monday night against the Senators.  

Nonetheless he was disappointed with the result.

“You can’t take for granted any lead that you have in this league,” said Lucic. “You hope that with a 2-0 lead going into the third period that you can get the job done. When it’s tied 2-2 you need to keep pushing to get the next goal rather than giving up that next goal.

“We weren’t able to do that. We need to learn from this: giving up leads going into the third. If we want to be an elite team and take our game to the next level, then it is part of the learning process.”

Horton had three shots on net against Pittsburgh and four shots on goal against Ottawa on Monday night, but the right winger also missed open nets in both games that could have bestowed his team with a little more breathing room. Krejci was the most effective of the three forwards, but lost 11-of-15 face-offs while racking up a minus-2 rating for the game with one measly shot on net.

Krejci has only one goal in his last eight games and has five total shots on net in the last four games. The playmaking pivot has been markedly consistent this season, and shown a newfound ability to bounce back from poor games rapidly rather than dwelling on them.

Krejci and the rest of his line will need that ability to rebound while finding a little offensive aggression and playmaking creation. They’ve been in these lulls before as a forward combination, and only hard work and physicality will help bring them out of their mini funk.    

That’s the order of the day for Lucic, Horton and Krejci after Tuesday night’s concerning loss to the Penguins was a needed dose of reality.