Bruins' penalty kill lets them down against Habs

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Bruins' penalty kill lets them down against Habs

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The Bruins entered Thursday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens with the best penalty kill in the NHL. The Habs came into the TD Garden with the worst power play in the league.

If the Bruins were going to lose to the Northeast Division's first-place team, it certainly wasn't going to be by way of special teams, was it?

But indeed, that's the way Thursday's 3-1 loss to Montreal went down in Boston. Who would have thought?

The Canadiens' first two goals of the game came on the power play, and were enough to secure the win and keep the Habs ahead of the B's in the standings. They came off the sticks of P.K. Subban, 5:19 into the first period, and Brian Gionta, 29 seconds into the third.

"That's what happens, you know," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara after the loss. "You can't go a whole year without shutting teams down."

That much is true. The B's went from a league-leading 90.9 penalty-kill percentage to a fifth-best 87.8 percentage, while allowing two power-play goals in five penalty-kill attempts on Thursday night.

Subban gave Montreal a 1-0 lead after he received a perfect cross-ice pass from Andrei Markov and fired a one-timer slapshot past Tuukka Rask from the top of the left circle just 18 seconds after Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin was called for tripping.

Chara tied the game at 1-1 late in the first, but the Canadiens were able to take the lead once again on Gionta's power-play goal in the third.

Gionta took a nice saucer pass from Michael Cammalleri that sailed over a sprawling Dennis Seidenberg and one-timed it past Rask for the 2-1 lead.

"Their power play was, I think it was pretty good," said Seidenberg. "I mean, I tried to take away the shooting lane and passing lane, and Cammalleri made a real nice pass to Gionta, and kind of almost batted it out of the air. So it was a real nice play he made, and I think if you make plays like that, you get goals."

"I would kind of give them credit for doing a good job, too," said coach Claude Julien. "Not to say that our penalty kill should be excluded from that, but, you know, it wasn't a good night overall, and I think, again, sometimes fatigue and maybe decisions weren't the best at times, and it cost us a few goals."

It cost them the game.

What has been one of the Bruins' biggest strengths this season let them down on Thursday night in an important divisional game.

"We kept it simple," said Gionta about his team's power play. "When we got away from that, we weren't getting it in the zone there a couple times.

"On the power play and the penalty kill, we just took a shot," he added. "Got set up, got in position, and just took a shot. Same thing kind of with the other power-play goal. We won the battle down low, in off the dump, kind of supported each other, kicked it back out, and then some plays kind of opened up from there."

"Special teams was the difference in the hockey game," said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin.

It can't be put any better than that.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

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Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats