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.

Morning Skate: Kovalchuk looking to return to NHL

Morning Skate: Kovalchuk looking to return to NHL

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading while watching Trolls for about the 1,000th time with my son this morning.
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Marc Spector chronicles the Edmonton Oilers showing they’re ready for the challenge in advancing over the San Jose Sharks.
 
-- Interesting report from Elliotte Friedman about Ilya Kovalchuk looking to return to the NHL with the Devils, or somebody willing to trade for his rights.

-- Hard to believe the Predators and Blues have never met before in the playoffs, but this is why I like the new postseason format and the way it fosters divisional rivalries.
 
-- The Minnesota Wild went out on their shields, with Eric Staal getting hospitalized after going headfirst into the boards in the Game 5 loss that eliminated his team.
 
-- Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman says changes are coming after an extremely disappointing first-round sweep at the hands of the Predators.

-- Joe Smith cracks open the mailbag to answer some questions about the Tampa Bay Lightning and what should be an interesting offseason for the .
 
-- For something completely different: Joanie from Happy Days, gone too soon, is remembered by her former co-stars.

Injured Torey Krug resumes skating for Bruins

Injured Torey Krug resumes skating for Bruins

The longer that the Bruins can hang around in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the greater the chances they can enter some healthy bodies back into the equation. 

Just a couple of weeks after Torey Krug went down with a lower body injury that had him in a knee brace and crutches leaving the TD Garden, the Bruins top puck-moving defenseman began his road back to recovery with some skating on the ice. It wasn’t part of a full practice as the Bruins had the day off the ice following their epic Friday night double-overtime Game 5 win over the Ottawa Senators, but it was still encouraging to see Krug make forward progress. 

“He started that process of his rehab, so he’s on the ice,” said Bruce Cassidy of Krug, who has missed all five of the games in the first round playoff series thus far. “I don’t believe Carlo was on the ice today.”

It was clear Krug was making progress when he traveled with the rest of the Bruins to Ottawa for Friday night’s Game 5, and now one has to wonder if he can somehow be a factor at the end of this first round series against the Senators. Obviously a return for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon would be out of the question given that he hasn’t even practiced with the team, but one has to wonder if a possible Game 7 could happen given that the game wouldn’t be played until Wednesday night in Ottawa. 

While the Bruins have survived without Krug in the lineup, he could have a major impact on Boston’s ability to swiftly move through the 1-3-1 trap and execute some of the stretch passes and transition plays that Ottawa has been successfully throwing at the Bruins throughout the series. Krug could also make an impact on the Bruins power play that’s been down (2-for-14 for a 14.3 percent success rate) in the postseason from their potency during the regular season.