Unhappy with performance, Bruins accept point

Unhappy with performance, Bruins accept point

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The Bruins will take the point, and they'll move on.

It wasn't a 60-minute effort for the B's on Saturday night at the TD Garden. So they were fortunate enough to have played 61:52 of hockey against a depleted Pittsburgh Penguins team.

The Pens were missing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to injury. But in fairness to the Bruins, they were missing two of their star players as well, in Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron is the only one of those players who isn't injured. He was attending to a personal issue and is expected to return to the team on Monday.

But in his absence, the Bruins that were in Saturday's lineup, weren't the same Bruins that just rattled off seven straight wins, including six straight on the road.

Instead, they looked like a team that, at times, didn't want it as bad as Pittsburgh. But also, the combination of poor offensive execution and even worse defensive decisions in their own zone, cost them dearly in the 3-2 overtime loss.

But you can't win them all. The Bruins know that, even if they're holding themselves to a higher standard of hockey than they showed against the Penguins on Saturday.

"If you're going to take one overtime loss in eight games, that's not a bad thing," said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the loss. "We just felt that, we're expecting a lot out of ourselves right now, and we're disappointed that we didn't get that second point."

Perhaps they shouldn't have even obtained the first one.

After Zdeno Chara gave the B's a 1-0 lead, 7:26 into the second period, things got ugly.

That ugliness began with Johnny Boychuk's poor decision to pinch at the middle of the Pittsburgh blue line, trying to keep a puck in the offensive zone. He was unable to do so, and as a result, the Penguins skated down and converted on a 2-on-1 to tie the game at 1-1. Just 1:10 later, it seemed the B's were still feeling the effects of Boychuk's poor decision to pinch, and they were caught standing around flat-footed on defense, leading to Dustin Jeffrey's goal from the slot that seemed all too easy for the Penguins to score.

The Bruins battled harder in the third, but it didn't look like that hard work was going to pay off. It seemed as if it was too little, too late.

Especially as Boston's No. 1 villain, Matt Cooke, skated down the left wing with under a minute to play in regulation, staring at an empty Bruins net in front of him.

Tim Thomas had been pulled, in order for the B's to send out the extra attacker, in the hopes that they could somehow find a way to get a last-minute goal and send the game into overtime.

Then, as if Boston's hockey gods had written the script, Cooke's shot at the empty net was blocked by defenseman Tomas Kaberle, and the Bruins turned it quickly up-ice for one final shot at OT.

Then, with 32.5 seconds left in regulation, David Krejci took a Milan Lucic pass in the slot, and sniped the top-left corner to tie the game at 2-2, giving the Bruins a point that they'll accept, even if Jeffrey's overtime goal sent the B's home with a loss.

"Every once in a while, you rely on that sixth attacker to help you gain a point, and we'll take that tonight," said Julien. "But lately, we've been winning games because we've been playing 60 minutes. And tonight wasn't the case."

"We didn't have our best game, that's for sure," said Chara after the loss. "We just had heavy legs, we didn't skate well, and we didn't move the puck well. On the other side, Pittsburgh played extremely well. They put a lot of pressure on us. They took away our space and time. We couldn't create much. Even though they played back-to-back games, they had pretty good jump and energy. It almost felt like we were the team who played last night.

"We worked extremely hard in the third and earned that point. That's a positive. Obviously we'd like to get two, but it happens."

They'll take it, and they'll move on.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.