Haggerty: Bruins determined to start streaking again

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Haggerty: Bruins determined to start streaking again

WINNIPEG It was bound to happen eventually, and it seemed inevitable it would be in Winnipeg on the second night of road back-to-backs with Tyler Seguin scratched after missing an Xs and Os with Cheerios session with his teammates Tuesday morning.

So it was for a Bruins team that had won 14 out of 15 games and hadnt lost a regulation game since before Halloween.

The Bruins battled through some tired legs and a couple of defensive gaffes courtesy of Joe Corvo, but couldnt find ways to finish off scoring chances in a 2-1 loss to the Jets at the MTS Centre.

The emotion of Mondays statement victory over Sidney Crosby and the Penguins didnt leave much in the Bs gas tank, but the players werent making any excuses after landing in Manitoba during the early morning hours on Tuesday.

You always want to win, and its a little extra frustrating when you felt like you had some pretty good chances, said Andrew Ference. A loss is a loss. Nobody likes it in here and thats obviously what makes us successful.

We werent flying on top of a rainbow when we were winning all those games, so were not going to beat ourselves up over a loss now. We just need to move on.

Winnipegs building proved to be a fearsome ice advantage for the Jets, and the noise after the Jets game-winning goal in the third period could rival any other NHL barn across Canada. So the Bruins will have to prepare for the hostile atmosphere in future meetings with the Jets, and they shouldnt have the same kind of play-finishing issues when Seguin jumps back into the lineup Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.

Boston probably could have actually used Seguins elite finishing abilities among those 39 shots that were snuffed out by Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, or the 0-for-3 performance on the power play that couldnt quite break through.

But they soldiered on without him, and had their chances to pull out points while operating at less than their best. In fact it seemed things had swung in their direction when Shawn Thornton tipped home a Daniel Paille offering in the third period, and tied the game up at 1-1 apiece.

After all the Bruins have outscored opponents by a 40-18 margin in third periods this season and have used the final 20 minutes to bully teams with their strength in both numbers and physical might.

But it wasnt going to happen this time around. Instead old friend Mark Stuart found himself in the middle of a winning sequence when he earned a roughing call from David Krejci in the third period. Stuart quickly turned his back toward a charging Krejci while holding the puck in the corner, and went down hard after his face smacked violently into the glass above the boards.

Bryan Little weaved through a stunned Bs penalty kill unit and managed to squeeze a shot through Tuukka Rasks hockey pants for game-winning goal on a rush off his face-off win, and that was it for the Black and Gold. No stunning heroics and no last-minute goal to push things into overtime for the charity point.

Instead the Bruins felt the sting of an empty loss for the first time in 38 days, and no winning streak can soften the blow for a crew of hockey players that have become accustomed to winning.

It was a loss, but now we need to turn the page and start another streak, said Johnny Boychuk, who endured his share of pain when he took a shot off the knee. We did some positive things. We knew we werent going to win for the rest of the season and we had to lose eventually. But it always sucks to lose.

Whats most impressive about the Bruins is their ability to hang in games even when theyre not close to their best. There hasnt been a single opponent thats outclassed the Bs this season, and six of Bostons nine losses have been one-goal defeats that saw them fall just short.

The loss to Winnipeg doesnt take any luster away from Bostons 15-game run that pushed them all the way to the No. 2 spot behind the Penguins in the Eastern Conference standings. But it does act as a bookend to one lengthy, impressive run by the Black and Gold, and offer a challenge to start another one against the Panthers and Blue Jackets prior to some off-time next week.

The best thing the Bruins can do: bottle up their feelings of frustration and measured anguish after a rare loss to Winnipeg and take it out on their next few opponents with the same precision theyve showcased since the beginning of November.

Now it becomes about proving the Bruins epic 15-game run was the rule rather than the exception.

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.