BruinsMaple Leafs: 5 from the First

BruinsMaple Leafs: 5 from the First

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comBOSTON Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Leafs locked in a 1-1 tie at the TD Garden after the first 20 minutes of a game thats taken a back seat to the trade rumor mill.1)Isnt ironic and perhaps a little bit of hockey justice that Daniel Paille scores the goal for Boston in his first game from a four-game suspension after his high blow to the head on Raymond Sawada. The goal was created by an excellent pinch from Mark Stuart behind the net as he got involved on the fore-check and worked the puck around the boards Paille. The Bs winger flipped the puck off Mike Komisarek in front of the net and it got right past James Reimer.2)It had to happen eventually, and now Phil Kessel has his first goal against his former team after batting a puck out of the air following a Dion Phaneuf shot from the high slot area. That is Kessels first goal in 10 games against the Bruins, and it prompted ample booing from the TD Garden sellout crowd right after it took place. It also snapped a 14-game scoring drought for Kessel while having some major difficult with the Maple Leafs after basically throwing his coach under the bus last week.3)Three shots on net for Milan Lucic, who was a force in the first period and seems to have rebounded strongly from a poor game against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.4)Got to love that the Merlot line has kicked in offensive for the Bruins. Thats always bodes well for the eventual outcome.5)Johnny Boychuk has been going through a bit of a rough patch for the Bruins, so its not surprising that the defenseman was made a healthy scratch for the Leafs. The effort level and toughness have been there, but hes not making quick enough decisions with the puck. That combined with Steve Kampfers offensive abilities made Boychuk the natural choice.

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic.