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.

Talking Points from the Bruins OT winner

bruins-ryan-spooner.jpg

Talking Points from the Bruins OT winner

GOLD STAR: Solid night’s work from Ryan Spooner, who finished with the OT game-winning strike and was solid throughout the game as the de facto No. 1 center. He had four shots on net, six generated shot attempts and won 12-of-19 face offs as he continues to improve in that area while training camp rolls along. Spooner is trying to hold onto the No. 3 center spot in the lineup despite the addition of David Backes via free agency, and Friday night’s big boy performance with speed, playmaking and skill showed exactly what his potential can be when he puts it all together. It was also a nice little bounce-back from an up-and-down game on Wednesday night against the same Detroit team when he struggled in the face off circle and was part of a team-wide malaise.

BLACK EYE: It wasn’t necessarily a bad night for Brian Ferlin, but it was more of the invisible variety with just a registered hit and one face-off taken in 13 minutes of ice time. The forward earned some NHL time with the Bruins a couple of years, has battled concussion woes over the last year plus and is trying to push his way back into the crowded forward picture during this training camp. While he certainly showed some toughness and skill around the net a couple of years and didn’t seem shy about going there on Friday night, the results just weren’t there and Ferlin didn’t have much of a presence in the game. In general it was a pretty decent performance for the Bruins, so Ferlin’s game was quiet more than problematic.

TURNING POINT: Credit the Bruins coaching staff for switching up the lines in the third period, and that sparked the offense a bit after zero goals through the first 40 minutes against Detroit. Zach Senyshyn was moved with Danton Heinen and Riley Nash, and they became a threat in the third period before Heinen broke through for the game-tying goal from his knees. That score allowed the B’s to push things into overtime, and then Spooner made it a quick extra session by snapping home a shot from the slot after a good effort from Joe Morrow down low. It all was made possible by the adjustment to the lines that took place between the second and the third periods.

HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Morrow is battling to hold onto his NHL roster spot with the Bruins, and that is absolutely underscored by the news that Christian Ehrhoff is being brought to Boston on a PTO. So it was expected that the young D-man would come out with something a little extra after a mediocre performance in his preseason debut, and the left shot D-man was an impact player in the win for the Black and Gold. Morrow dropped the gloves with young tough guy Givani Smith in the second period as part of a B’s group that played with a little bit of an edge on Friday night, and then he won a battle down low in overtime to set up the Ryan Spooner game-winner. Morrow had two hits, two shot attempts, the assist and the fight in 19:48 of ice time, and showed that he’s ready to battle in camp to hold onto his spot.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of goals in two preseason games thus far for Danton Heinen, who scored important game-tying goals in both instances in the shootout loss to the Blue Jackets and Friday night’s overtime win against the Wings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “The compete level, especially when he got down 4-0 [on Wednesday night], I don’t think it was high enough. So we talked about it, and we expect a better effort for sure.” –Ryan Spooner on Friday morning prior to going out and snatching the win away from the Red Wings in Detroit with an OT game-winner. 

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

bruins-christian-ehrhoff.jpg

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.