No Excuses From Bruins
BOSTON, MA - In the Bruins' locker room room, there's always accountability.
So, when they found themselves in a hole for the second straight game and again, didn't find the result that they wanted, there were no excuses floating around.
A 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals Saturday at TD Garden, on the heels of a 5-4 loss to Buffalo on Wednesday, is not the way the Bruins wanted to start their play out of the Olympic Break.
"We've given up the first goal in both the games here. Those are things that you don't want to do - playing catch up hockey is not a good way to play," Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame.
"For sure, wasn’t our best game," said Captain Zdeno Chara, speaking with media in front of his locker room stall at TD Garden. "We could’ve probably done a number of things differently, and better. We have to learn from games like this, especially against an opponent like this."
Washington entered the game with the league's second ranked power play. Alex Ovechkin is the lethal weapon. He found the back of the net on two out of the Caps' first three power plays of the game. The output forced the Bruins into a 2-0 hole early in the second period.
"It was more us not doing what we said we were going to do," said Chara, of the trouble that the Caps power play caused them. "So, again that’s going to have to be addressed and for sure those kinds of mistakes we have to eliminate and be more focused and be sharper."
Ovechkin scored his 42nd and 43rd league-leading goals, ripping both in on the man-advantage.
"He's got to be up there," said Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask, of Ovechkin being one of the most dangerous shooters in the game. Rask was back between the pipes for the first time since returning from the Olympics.
"He's so good at finding kind of that dead area, where nobody else really goes to."
"I thought our guys got caught running around and it opened up the seams," said Julien. The Bruins had made shutting down the Caps' man advantage a clear point of emphasis heading into the matchup.
"So, those are our mistakes. At the same time, I didn't think we were disciplined enough tonight to play against a team that had that kind of a power play."
Midway through the second, with the Caps up 2-0, a Bruins turnover right after a faceoff led to a breakaway goal by Joel Ward.
Down by three, the Black & Gold then started to turn it up. Patrice Bergeron converted on a power-play opportunity less than a minute after Ward's tally and the Merlot Line of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille made it a one-goal game.
But another breakdown sent Eric Fehr in completely all alone on Rask, putting Washington up 4-2 with 10:53 to go.
"We're getting caught cheating on the offensive side too much, and it's ending up in the back of our net," said Julen. "So we need to fix that if we expect to win because at this rate here, we're giving up too many goals."
"There are some details in the game that, as a team, I think we make a point to focus on, to correct at all times, because those are the things that matter going down the stretch," said Campbell. "So that's what we've got to focus on right now."
"I don’t like excuses so we’ve got to be better defensively," added Thornton, when asked if rust from the break would still have anything to do with the lax defensive coverage.
"I think that, yeah, maybe there was a little bit of rust, but we don’t really have time for that. Everyone is in the same boat, that’s the thing. Everyone had the same break. Everyone had guys go to Sochi. Everybody had guys go on vacation, so we’ve got to look inside here and we’ve got to do better."
The Bruins once again showed character, battling back, but their hard work didn't surpass that of the Caps. Their emphasis now, is moving past "knowing" what they need to do, and actually making it come to fruition.
"It doesn't matter if we keep talking about it, today was pretty [bad] again, just mental mistakes. We talked about certain things with their power play and we just give them those opportunities and breakaways and stuff like that - it's just not our style," said Rask.
Giving up nine goals in a span of two games is never the Bruins' style. It's a two-game stretch fairly reminiscent of the B's time in California in early January, when breakdowns plagued them.
But this is a team that hasn't lost three games in a row all season, so bouncing back on Sunday against the Rangers in New York City is imperative.
"Well, I know this team well enough. They're not going to hang their hats and say, well it's because of this, it's because of that. We've always taken responsibility for our actions, and that's not going to change," said Julien. "I think they all know in here that we have to work and compete harder. The emotion of our game has to be a little bit better."
Before the break, the Black & Gold were competing hard at both ends of the ice, and they had emotion in their game that Julien thought was lacking on Saturday afternoon.
"There's no excuses," said Julien. "We have to be better focused and sharper out there."
"It's the level we expect of ourselves, the standard that's expected of us," said Campbell. "That's what expected playing on this team, to compete like that every night."
"When we ended before the break, we were playing some pretty good hockey so now it's just up to us to find our game again."