WILMINGTON, Mass. – While the Bruins believe there were extenuating circumstances behind the brutal first period start to their victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night, they are also aware the opening 20 minutes is something that needs to be improved.
The 10 goals scored in the first period in Boston’s 12 games this year is the lowest total for the three periods, but the Bruins have still outscored their opponents by an aggregate 10-6 total. That still doesn’t excuse the measly one shot on goal in the first 20 minutes against Anaheim, a Zdeno Chara shot from the outside that barely registered as blip on Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller’s radar.
That first period was Boston’s worst single period since a one-shot third period in a January 2008 win over the New Jersey Devils. Clearly it’s a noteworthy event worth dissecting by the Bruins coaching staff. But Claude Julien also knows there was more behind Boston’s craptastic start to an eventual shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks.
“I think our starts could be better. But sometimes I feel we analyze the game way too much from one thing to another,” said Julien. “I try to stay away from that stuff. The one thing I would like to see is that we do get off to better starts. There’s no doubt there.
“But the rest of the game? We’re the ones that know how tired we are and what’s going on with the players, and know how tough the trip or the game before was. It’s our job to take for what it’s worth. I know if I was sitting in the other team’s building and I knew the other was playing a back-to-back, I’d want to make sure my team got off to a good start. Which will probably be the case for us when we’re in New York [on Saturday] when we want to get off to a good start.”
That’s because the Islanders, their opponent Saturday night, are in the same position as the B’s earlier this week. The Isles played on the road in Ottawa Friday night before traveling back to Nassau Coliseum to face the Bruins.
The first-period numbers aren’t egregiously bad for the Black and Gold despite all of the chatter about getting better starts. Still, there’s also some truth in Boston continuing to be a third period team capable of closing out other teams while nearly doubling their competition by a 13-7 margin in the final 20 minutes.
Obviously the Bruins would like to be consistent in every period, but most hockey teams would take a slow start into a strong finish rather than the other way around.
“It’s something that we’ve addressed, but as you progress through the season it’s a lot tougher to score goals,” said Gregory Campbell. “So if you get off to a slow start you find yourself really climbing uphill, and as games get tougher it becomes more crucial to get off to a good start.”
The Black and Gold don’t want to get to that point, so look for a more energetic, productive start to their game Saturday night against a fatigued Islanders bunch.