Bruins Working to Get in Sync
Coach looking for consistency from his locker room
But on Saturday afternoon against the struggling Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center, they were unable to comeback and wrestle any, ultimately falling 3-1 with Philadelphia's empty-netter in the final minute.
"We fell behind 2-0 again. I think that's been happening too much to us lately, not that they've been bad goals or anything like that, but we just can't bear down and get that lead," said Tuukka Rask following the loss.
"Battled back a bit, but just not enough."
Despite outshooting the Flyers 34-22, the Bruins never quite looked in sync, showing moments of sustained pressure and aggressive forechecking, and generating chances, but not being able to consistently build momentum throughout the game.
"I think it's just go out there and play our game like we can," said Rask, on how the B's can find the urgency in their game. "I think if you look at these two goals, they were good goals that they scored, but I think when we're on top of our game, we don't necessarily give up those chances or, if we do, I save them, or whoever is in the net saves them."
"It's kind of a balance between me and the players to help out each other and, for me, maybe bail them out a little bit more."
The Flyers first got on the board with 4:41 left in the first period, after Zdeno Chara was called for holding and slating the league-leading power play heading into the game (24.2%) up against the NHL's top penalty kill (91.2%). Mike Knuble won the positioning battle in front and converted on a perfect feed from Brayden Schenn, beating Rask between his glove hand and the post.
"You allow a power-play goal, fall behind, you get some spurts where you're seeing some good things, but again, next line going out can't follow up, so we're not able to sustain much right now," said Coach Julien, on the inconsistent effort from his club.
"The biggest challenge is every game, we've got one line that's scoring and the other three don't do a thing. Then it's a different line the next game and the other three don't, so we can't win hockey games relying on one line producing for us. It's not always the same line, it's a different line. There's definitely some catching up to do."
Despite some jump from the B's to start, more inconsistency crept into the second.
And 3:18 into the middle frame, Matt Read gave the Flyers their 2-0 lead, connecting on a cross-ice pass from their leading points getter Jakub Voracek, right after they nearly converted on a 3-on-1 attempt.
"I thought the second period was probably the most disorganized, or erratic, from our end of it. Guys fanning on one-timers, bobbling pucks, just guys squeezing their sticks," said Coach, when giving his assessment of the game.
"We've got to relax a little bit, but we've also got to wake up and start playing Bruins hockey because that's not what we're playing right now."
Krejci, Horton Generate Chances
Despite being down by two goals and all four lines not producing, the loss was not for lack of chances to come back, as the Black & Gold had opportunities to bury the puck - especially David Krejci's line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, who combined for eight shots, including four from Krejci.
Horton had his early chance on an open net hit a skate and bounce away from the goal, but scored the B's lone tally five minutes into the third to bring them within one. It marked his 10th of the season and he became the fourth Bruin to reach double digits in goals.
"Yeah, we had our chances. I think we were working hard, but couldn't buy a goal," said Horton from the visiting team locker room following the game.
"I think we were gripping our sticks a little bit too much. Once they got the lead, they were playing back. Like I said, we did get chances."
Coach Looking For Life From His B's
When asked if his club needs a spark via trade or elsewhere, Coach quickly shot down the notion, and reminded the reporter of the strong record from his team - with the current players on the roster - to start the season.
"We had a good record at the beginning of the year, maybe you look more at the injuries, maybe we miss some of those guys more than others. Kelly's a pretty important part of our team, stability, you look at McQuaid and Johnny who was back for the first game, he struggled tonight."
"There's a lot of things, I think if we're looking for help, like I said, we're looking in the wrong direction. We need to look at ourselves, as a team right now we're not playing well."
This is, in fact, nearly the same Bruins team that started the season with an 8-1-1 record, picking up 17 of possible 20 points in their first 10 games. The B's knew the compact season would get grueling in March and April - and it has - so banking those early points should help them through this tough stretch of five losses in seven games.
"We were 14-2, I keep mentioning it, at the beginning of the year with the team we have right now. We are capable of playing much better hockey, but we're not doing it right now."
"Right now, we're very average in all areas and not playing Bruins hockey. When you only go in spurts, you can't expect to win. We can outshoot teams all night long, but it doesn't mean much. The other night, we had 21 scoring chances, to their 13 I think, but we still lost the game. It's about bearing down and being more consistent."
"Right now, there's not a lot of life because there's nothing to get excited about."
"We get a good shift then the next line goes out and takes the life away from you, so we're back to square one and you need somebody else to give you life again. When you're not able to sustain much, it's hard to get those wins."
Luckily for the Bruins, they can move on quickly from this loss with another game Sunday in Buffalo - as individuals, as a team, at both ends of the ice. Hopefully that's where they'll find a spark.