A New York Rangers power play in the first period that led to a goal by captain Ryan Callahan deflated the Boston Bruins to the point that they lost 3-0 in their last home outing before an important six-game road trip that begins with a visit to the archrival Montreal Canadiens.
The power play was awarded about halfway through the first period when Zdeno Chara took a penalty for closing his hand on the puck. After Callahan found the back of the net off a pass from Michael Del Zotto that he perfectly potted past Tim Thomas, the emotion drained from the Bruins like a balloon. The hard work and effort they’d been exerting for the first half of the first period evaporated and they went into the first intermission outshot 12-10 and outscored 2-0 when Ryan McDonagh popped an unassisted snap shot in at 11 seconds remaining.
In the second period, the Bruins made a valiant attempt to get in the game by shots and by force. They threw 14 shots Henrik Lundqvist’s way and participated in a scrum that started when Marc Staal shoved Milan Lucic. Lucic got up, attempted to defend himself and Staal dove like he was representing Canada in the summer Olympics. More Rangers got caught up in trying to start something with Rich Peverley, who among with Staal received the only penalties resulting from this incident. The Bruins successfully played off the four-on-four time that resulted. However, they went right back to the dressing room with that 2-0 score still standing tall.
The third period saw the Bruins outshooting the Rangers by a six to one ratio, 18 to three. Dennis Seidenberg also attempted to recreate his goal-from-the-blueline miracles that pushed the Bruins ahead of Ottawa back in January. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, though, and this time it was waved off after a video replay showed that the puck went just wide of the goal and got stuck in the lower padding. Following this waved-off goal, the Bruins promptly deflated again.
This period also saw Boston’s only actual man advantage of the night after Steve Eminger tripped Andrew Ference late in the period. (I found the reffing to be excessively poor in this game–they missed more calls than an AT&T user in a dead zone.) This seemed to lead the team to finally play with a little inspiration, although it was all too little, too late. David Krejci quite nearly broke the shutout. But when the buzzer sounded, Lundqvist earned his 42nd career shutout, his seventh of the season and turned away 42 shots to get it.
Sidenotes: Johnny Boychuk, who just got resigned to a three-year contract, had a -1 on the night. To be fair, so did every other Bruins defenseman except Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid, who came out of the night with zeros. Tyler Seguin made the most effort shots-wise, although he was seen wincing and angrily slamming his stick against the bench late in the game.
The Bruins’ record sinks to 5-5-0 in the last ten games. They have been shut out three times in the last six games. They have scored only eight times total during the month of February so far, which is basically halfway over as is. Interestingly, they are 3-5-0 since the White House visit by everyone except Tim Thomas. I’m not saying that’s the only cause of this slump–it’s been brewing, pardon the pun, for a while–but that it may have contributed.
This six-game road trip now becomes important not only for getting points, but also for, as Claude Julien put it, finding the team’s identity again. It may also serve as a time for the team to make some personnel changes with the trade deadline coming up very soon. Considering their slump as of late–a win here, a loss there, a shutout here, no more than two wins at a time there–something’s gotta give if the team is going to rise back to its former prominence.