Claude Julien laments Bruins 'gifts' given to Oilers in loss

Claude Julien laments Bruins 'gifts' given to Oilers in loss

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.

Bruins fall into second wild-card spot as Leafs win again

Bruins fall into second wild-card spot as Leafs win again

Things went about as badly as they could have for the Bruins on Wednesday night, resulting in them waking up Thursday morning as the second wild-card team . . . and just a couple of missteps from being out of the playoff structure entirely.

The Toronto Maple Leafs took down the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-2, and the New York Islanders came back to beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, so both teams gained ground on the idle B’s. Toronto has passed the Bruins by a point for third place in the Atlantic Division with a game still in hand, and the Isles are just two points behind the Bruins while also holding a game in hand.

According to Hockey Reference’s web site the Bruins still have a 78.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, but that number dropped significantly from where it was prior to the back-to-back losses to Toronto and Ottawa earlier this week.

The Bruins remain very much in control of their destiny, but they need wins against Tampa Bay on Thursday and (especially) against the Isles in Brooklyn this weekend.

All of this is because the Bruins have hit their first bump under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, a three-game losing streak that eroded the playoff cushion they enjoyed over the teams chasing them. It's raised some blood-pressure levels locally, since the B’s have missed the playoffs in each of the last two years due to late season collapses (going 3-8-1 in their final 12 games last year, and losing 9 of their final 14 two years ago).

“You have to obviously look forward. [You] definitely don’t dwell on the past and don’t look at the past two years,” said Patrice Bergeron following the loss to Ottawa on Tuesday night. “It’s not even something we should think about at this point. It’s about us finding ways and us obviously being better and finding ways to win games. We’re playing good hockey, but not good enough to get the result.”
 
They'll attempt to get back on track tonight against the Lightning, who come to town just five points behind Boston and also badly in need of a win as they're riding their own three-game losing streak.

Krug: Bruins collapse 'is not going to happen this year'

Krug: Bruins collapse 'is not going to happen this year'

BOSTON – Having lost three games in a row for the first time under Bruce Cassidy at time of year when you can’t drop into losing streaks, Bruins fans clearly want some sense of surety when it comes to the B’s making the playoffs.

Well, they got an ironclad guarantee from Torey Krug after he was the best B’s player on the ice in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Krug has been a part of the teams that collapsed in each of the past two seasons and the puck-moving defenseman said things are going to be different this time around with nine games to go.

“I haven’t thought about it, I haven’t talked about it. It’s a different feeling this year. [A collapse] is not going to happen this year. I know we’ve got a lot of pride in this room,” said Krug, who elevated his game and scored on a nifty, Bobby Orr-esque one-man rush up the ice in the third period. He also had a team-high seven shots on net and led the B’s in ice time in the loss. “The guys that have been through it. There’s no other option except making sure we stay on course and take care and do our jobs.

“You feel like you played pretty well and things didn’t go your way. You make a big mistake and it cost you. You got to realize what’s done is done, and we have an important task on Thursday [vs. the Lightning]. We’ve got to come to the rink with no other option except winning that game. That’s the mindset we’ve got to have.”

The Black and Gold are still in a pretty good position when it comes to the playoffs, even if their lead over Toronto in the Atlantic Division is precarious right now. But it ultimately comes down to Boston summoning against Tampa Bay and the Islanders what they didn’t, or couldn’t, against Toronto and Ottawa, and making good on Krug’s defiant words following a bitter defeat.