Paoletti: Bruins-Flyers was a passion-less play

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Paoletti: Bruins-Flyers was a passion-less play

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- It was an unusually warm December day when the Flyers were in Boston.

Temperatureswere reported around 50 degrees and fans rolled into the TD Gardendressed in light layers; Black and Gold hoodies or hockey sweaters andscarves. Funny thing, though; the crowd wasn't heated. Not in temperament.

Therewas nothing unruly about Saturday night's spectators. Some forecastedpiano-string tension before meeting Philadelphia again. Those hatedFlyers. The team that made the Boston Bruins an answer to a triviaquestion.

"What club became the third team in NHL history to lose a playoffs series after winning the first three games?"

Yeah. That question.

MaybeBruins fans don't play trivia. Maybe they're content to go out withfriends, drink some beer and hope for -- but not need -- a win. Thatwas the vibe floating around as folks found their seats. A smatteringof boos were tossed toward the ice when the Flyers starters wereannounced during warm-ups. But it was nothing more than what Montrealreceived in November.

Boston's marketing department made aclever play. Minutes before puck dropped a montage rolled. "What aWeek!" the jumbotron declared. The slides showed a hell of a NewEngland sports recap: the Patriots beat the Jets, the Bruins beat theSabes, the Celtics beat the Nuggets, the Bruins and Celtics win againon the same night, the Red Sox sign Carl Crawford. "And it's notover . . . " the screen promised.

Was no one revved up enough about the damn Flyers?

Atleast the trick worked. The fans were properly roused by the week thatwas and broke into a chant just 30 seconds into the game "LET'S GOBRUINS! LET'S GO BRUINS! LET'S GO BRUINS!" And the rally cry wasrewarded with an early shot on Philadelphia's goal.

But as theB's quieted down so too did the arena. Instead of faces set with fiercedetermination, each section was littered with discontent.

There was that moment, though, during the second period . . .

TheBruins are down, 1-0. Braydon Coburn sends the puck from his Flyerszone down a long diagonal towards Boston's end. Andrew Ference and AdamMcQuaid race Philly winger Jody Shelley to the puck on the icing call.Ference moves to play the puck. McQuaid pulls up in a defenselessposition. Shelley is right behind him. Shelley throws his 230 poundsinto a thunderous hit on McQuaid, shoving him into the boards. McQuaidis down. He's not moving.

Fans rose in the wave ofindignation. A "FLYERS SUCK" chant rained down from the balcony andswelled to a deafening roar. A lusty chorus of boos met theannouncement of Shelley's five-minute major for boarding and gamemisconduct penalty and it felt like things would finally turn around.

It was only a moment. The power play proved fruitless and the mob grew restless.

Where was the energy? Where was the excitement?

Oneguy seemed worthy of emotion: Tim Thomas. It was the goalie's night. Itis his season. Thomas stopped 31 shots in Boston's 2-1 overtime loss onSaturday night but that burden doesn't rest on his shoulders. Nor doesthe crowd's frustration. His effort was a combination of body and willas he made save after save, each more inconceivable than the last, andthe fans loved him for it.

Their passion reflected the play. Youwonder why that rink wasn't rocking with full-tilt Philly hatred? TheBruins aren't playing complete hockey games right now. Maybe fansaren't compelled to stand and cheer for 60 minutes when the team isn'tgiving a 60-minute effort. It's hard to say.

But then again, as the sell-out crowd of 17, 565 filtered out into the cold night air, they weren't saying much.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

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It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL.