BOSTON – The Christmas holiday is over, but the Bruins are still in a gift-giving mood according to their head coach.
The Bruins outshot the Edmonton Oilers by a 36-25 margin through their three periods of action, but made enough defensive miscues to hand the Oil a 4-3 win.
The worst was the goals given up in the opening minutes of both the first period and the third period where it felt like the Bruins weren’t ready when Edmonton really crammed the pressure down Boston’s throat. Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara were simply put on their heels by the speed of Connor McDavid at the start of the first period, and he simply unleashed a backhanded saucer pass across the ice for an easy Patrick Maroon tap-in.
“All around the ice, I think we need to improve [in all situations],” said Zdeno Chara. “There is no one thing, one part of the game that we can be happy with. There is pretty much every area that we can be better in and improve.”
Then it was Maroon winning a battle with Adam McQuaid in front of the net in the second period, and hopping on a rebound of an Eric Gryba point shot. The real backbreaker, though, was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scoring just 14 seconds into the third period on a play where he crashed the net and allowed the puck to bounce off him and win.
Credit Nugent-Hopkins for hustling to make it happen, but the Bruins were being beaten to puck battles when the game was being decided. That’s on them and part of this whole unwanted gift-giving philosophy from the B’s bench boss, and just not a smart style of play against a high-end Oilers group.
“We struggle because we give gifts like we did tonight. We were the better team; we played well and I thought we should have won that game – there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have won that game,” said Claude Julien. “But when you have the type of breakdowns and the type of goals that you give to other teams when they hardly had anything…we decide to give gifts and then you don’t win at home. So, that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to be better that way.”
The Bruins dropped to 9-10 on home ice this season with the loss, and they could start any kind of revival with a bit more of a commitment on the ice to focused play, and much less worrying about the teams below them in the standings that are inevitably closing in on the Bruins in the Atlantic Division.