Second periods a problem for Bruins this season

Second periods a problem for Bruins this season
January 3, 2014, 10:15 am
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A busy month of March has Bruins coach Claude Julien looking to rest his team when he can.

(USA Today Sports Images)

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BOSTON – The Bruins came out with some furious intensity in the third period, and scored a pair of goals Thursday night en route to a 3-2 overtime win over the Nashville Predators after a sleepy, unproductive middle period for the Black and Gold.

It didn’t look good when they were outshot by the Predators by a 16-3 margin in the middle period on the heels of a two-game losing streak that was trending toward a three-game losing streak. But the Bruins had a lively discussion in the B’s dressing room between the second and third period, and came out looking like a different hockey club in the final period before taking home the two points with Brad Marchand’s overtime game-winner.

Claude Julien didn’t believe his B’s team was dominated in the second period by a Predators team that doesn’t really dominate anyone, but they certainly didn’t do a whole lot with three measly shots at the net.

“We made some adjustments there as far as our approach to the game," Julien said. "In the second period, we didn’t get dominated. But we weren’t getting any offense – you know we had some zone time, but everything was on the outside, we weren’t taking pucks to the net, and the shots from the point weren’t hitting the net either. You know you come out of that period with three or four shots, and that’s not good enough to win hockey games.

“It just took one mistake, and they had the lead. So in the third period we came out with a better purpose, you know of taking pucks to the net and going there, and then attacking. That made a big difference in our game.”

None of this is new for the Bruins as the third period has been a problem all season. While the B’s have a solid goal differential in the first and third periods this season, they sport an unsightly minus-2 goal differential in the second period. The Bruins have scored 32 goals in 41 games this season during the middle period, but they’ve allowed 34 goals in very un-Bruins-like fashion.

The Bruins are a plus-12 in the first period while outscoring the opposition by a 35-23 margin, and they’re a plus-19 in their final, best period while outscoring opponents by a 48-29 margin, and then outscoring opponents by a 4-0 margin in overtime. Just don’t ask the Bruins to explain the second period phenomenon because they have no idea what’s behind it.

“I wish I could tell you. I don’t know,” said Johnny Boychuk, who smoked a wrist shot from the slot that finally snapped the B’s out of their doldrums in the third period. “We just started to play our game – we tried not to be too fancy, and just get pucks and bodies to the net. The second period wasn’t our best, you only have three shots and you can’t really win when you only have three shots obviously.

“We just tried to get on the rush when you can, and try and get more pucks and bodies to the net and limit the turnovers.”

Those all sound like solid reasons for the third period turnaround keyed by the goals from Boychuk and Jarome Iginla that pushed things into overtime. Now the Bruins need to resolve the mystery as to what form of hockey spell comes over an otherwise consistent, excellent hockey team when they head into the first intermission of a game.

Because the Bruins are very rarely the team everybody knows them to be in the second periods of games this season, and there’s got to be a reasonable explanation behind such unexplained hockey phenomenon.