You have to give it to Willie’s Boys. They play hard. They work harder than, on most nights, their opponents. And, lately, they lose close games in a situation where their stated goal is slipping away, and they can’t afford to lose too many more.
They came in needing to keep pace, and to avoid “needing to go on a run”. They now probably need to go on a run, as sportsstats.com was quoted on the broadcast as giving them a 5.4 % chance of getting there from here.
- You know that you are going to have to start early, and you know coming in that the other team does this every year to Western Conference teams in the name of “tradition”. I am sure there are other teams that get schedule breaks, but the Bruins have more of these early start games than anyone else in the NHL. They seem to use the majority of those “requests on the schedule” on Western Conference teams. We are used to stuff like the Leafs getting an early start here. ( do the Habs though ? ) But you could see it in the start for the visitors today. The first period, they had a good start, but there was some sloppiness too. One of the perks of having your owner as the Chairman of the owners, I suppose.
- The opening goal came for the visitors, as they were pretty competitive out of the gate. With just under five minutes having expired, it was the Bo Horvat line ( I really like the latest iteration. With Bo’s Swiss running mate taken out by the latest unpunished possibly suspendible offence versus the Canucks, Jannik Hansen has let his inner Honey Badger back out and fit in very well with Burrows and Bo ) on the rush, passing it around well. Hansen was stopped, but Bo Horvat was not, and the Canucks have a deserved 1-0 lead.
- The home team seemed to wake up a bit after that, really pressing forward. Under their new coach, they pressure more up ice and at the offensive blue line. That worked well versus the young Canucks, as they pressed hard at the line all night, creating problems for the Canucks getting out of their own end. Pasternak was robbed by Ryan Miller shortly after the opening goal, and he was strong in that opening period.
- The Bruins tied it up though, as they rushed up ice as the Canucks were changing, and allowed Kevan Miller to walk into one. Credit him for seeing the change and the open ice.
- The Bruins gave up a power play right afterwards, and in the offensive zone as well, but the Canuck power play ( which has been better ) was absolute “clown shoes” ( credit 2nd City Hockey for that descriptor of a bad power play ), and did less than nothing with the man advantage.
- I hate to complain, as it gets contstrued as whining, especially when it comes to the reaction of Boston sports fans ( one only needs to look at how classily they reacted to winning another Super Bowl, without any persecution complex at all ! Isn’t it enough to have a really good team, without cheating ? Yeah, #Deflategate was overblown, but remember. Tom Brady does not have a first Super Bowl, and maybe the narrative is different, if they don’t cheat in that first Super Bowl he played in. The Rams insist to this day they were screwed. They had 15 new plays for that game, and the Patriots knew them all at the start. That is not “good coaching”. It is cheating. Excuse me if I don’t genuflect to their greatness as a result ! ), but they always seem to get breaks from the employees of the NHL.
- The end of the first was a perfect example. At one point I counted seven Bruins on the ice. Sure, Tanev got the hooking call ( nice chicken wing by the Bruin in the corner on him with the stick clamped down on...I think it was Pasternak or Krejci ), but it was an easy call. The shock came when Dan O’Rourke decided having seven guys was fine, and made it a power play instead of four on four.
- On that goal to give the Bruins a late first period lead, there is plenty of blame to go around. The PK was actually OK for a bit, and was good on the whole today, but then Sbisa ( who did not have a good game....maybe he isn’t a morning person ) inexplicably threw a weak dribbler up the middle into the slot instead of around the boards, and the Bruins took the gift and executed, getting Frank Vatrano a shot at an empty net, basically. The Bruins executed, and were full marks for that. But that goal left a bad taste in the mouth, both for the call, and the mistake.
- Shots were 16-8 Bruins after one, and they had an 11-8 edge on faceoffs, even with Bo Horvat going 4 for 6. Stats for the game here from ESPN. ( Though take the hit stats with a grain of salt. Bruins ALWAYS get the edge there at home. I saw Tryamkin with a couple hits in the first period alone, for instance, and he was credited with 0 after 20 minutes. )
- The second started out as pretty “low event”, as the Bruins did not have their first shot in the second period until 7:40 had expired. It was a great chance in close by Krejci that Miller robbed him on though. The Canucks held a 6-1 edge in that time as far as shots went, but even there, it was a few long “goalie dumps” forcing offensive faceoffs that accounted for some of those as well.
- They kept coming though, and eventually, really turned the play the other way. Sutter was stopped on the rush, and Bo Horvat on the rebound was denied by maybe Khudobin’s best save to that point. They had a second power play that was a little better, but still bad. Give Willie Desjardins team credit. They kept working hard and pushing the play. Eventually, it payed off. The Horvat line was out late, and with time winding down, Horvat just got it on net. Honey Badger honey badgered a bit in front, and was stopped, but Burrows played a bit like a Honey Badger too, and managed to get a piece of it while being checked hard, scoring as time was expiring for a goal that had to be reviewed, but clearly beat the clock. The Canucks were full marks for their tied score after forty minutes.
- A 16-8 first period shot total was bettered by a 15-3 edge in the second for the Canucks. They took over the faceoff count, going 14 to 6 in the second to make the totals 22-17.
- The 3-2 goal against was a goal that happens sometimes. It happens sometimes with youth more than veteran, but it happens to them too. The Bruins pressure up ice was the main factor. With Ben Hutton breaking up the ice with the puck, he was stripped from behind. As the Bruins set up the shot from the point, Hutton then moved through the goaltender’s field of vision at the perfect time to screen him. Miller may have wanted that one back, but I don’t think he even saw it. It was a killer goal, down 3-2 early in the final frame.
- Bo’s line got the pressure going right after. They had a helluva game. Bo finished with 4 shots. Hansen 3, and Burrows 3. Burr and Bo each had a goal and an assist. Honey Badger had two helpers as well. The on ice numbers showed the Sedins haveing a little more ice time, but the Horvat line having more shifts. Both lines, and a fourth line with Boucher, Chaput and Skille was up ice all night. Sutter’s line was hard to play against at both ends. No give up in this team.
- They finally drew a call, with about 7 minutes left, as Schaller slashed Skille behind his own net. This time, the sense of desperation finally ignited the man advantage. They had a couple good chances before Hutton and Edler combined ( nice primary assist for Edler, finding Granlund in the high slot ) Markus Granlund made another in a season of great shots, beating the goaltender low short side, going post and in for a special teams goal that gave them a well deserved tie. With the way both teams were playing, it was enough to at least get a point, right ?
- Not so much. David Pasternak is a certified stud. The Bruins are full marks for finding this guy, and he is full marks for letting it all hang out on the ice. With a couple minutes, on a rish where Tanev had position, he caught the best defender on the visiting team looking at the puck and inside outed him perfectly, before beating Miller off his glove for a 4-3 goal that seemed almost cruel.
- The Canucks pressed. Hell, Henrik Sedin hit the post ( they had two of those tonight ) late from a bad angle, and they had a couple more chances to shoot that were denied by defenders, or by heistating. Time ran out on them though, and once again, a loss that is close counts the same as one that is not.
- The Canucks won the faceoff tally 28-27. The had the shots edge, 32-30. They even hit like banshees to get closer win that one ( 25-23 in a rink where the stats guy notices the home team board rattlers more than the visiting ones ). Oh yeah, and Tryamkin was playing his size all night, and was still only credited with one hit in the second, and one in the third. ( OK then ! )
They press on though. Tomorrow afternoon is the Sabres, and they have been playing better since Eichel returned from injury. Winning on the road is tougher than at home, and I would hate to just say, they have to win this one.
But they have to win this one. Let’s see if they can tomorrow, to at least keep the idea of a .500 road trip viable. See you then.