PITTSBURGH Its a good thing the NHL doesnt carry too many playoff matinee games.
The Bruins have continued a long string of subpar performances in matinee games this season, and dropped to 4-8-2 in matinees this season when they fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 5-2 score at the CONSOL Energy Center on Sunday afternoon.
The Bruins didnt look ready to play on Sunday and its difficult to argue with a 3-0 deficit after the first 20 minutes even if there were a couple of good scoring chances from the David KrejciMilan LucicTyler Seguin line to open the proceedings.
The simple truth is this: the Bruins have been outscored 10-4 in the first period of their last nine matinee games this season and that speaks a problem getting things moving in these early starts.
Claude Julien saw it as a coincidence and didnt think his team showed any evidence of sluggishness in the first period.
When you look at today I dont think we were skating in quicksand. Theres nothing to that, said Julien. I think yesterday was about two early goals again when we had the better scoring chances earlier in the game.
I dont attribute the losses to the time of the game. I attribute the loss to what we do during the game.
Pittsburghs first goal was clearly a simple bounce of the puck when a blocked shot landed on Arron Ashams stick and the Penguins were off and running in the first period. But the Penguins carried that momentum through the entire first period, and their first line players Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz and James Neal had their way with a Bruins team that appeared a little dazed after similarly falling behind early against Washington on Saturday afternoon.
The Bruins all scratched their heads when presented with the matinee stats after their loss to the Penguins. But they also know that they have to be better with the Senators breathing down their necks only two points behind in the Northeast Division.
Ive got no clue. Weve got to be ready. Were professionals, said Johnny Boychuk. You give up three goals in the first . . . thats unacceptable. Whether its a matinee or not its simply unacceptable.