That collapse from the Boston Bruins against the Washington Capitals was more awful than when you were a kid and spent hours meticulously putting something delicate, like a house of cards, only to accidentally breathe on it too hard and watch it turn to dust. The team managed to take a comfortable 3-0 lead and turn it into an embarrassment of a 4-3 overtime loss.
By the end of the first period, the Bruins had what looked like a comfortable 3-0 lead. Brad Marchand scored on a shorthanded penalty shot, Zdeno Chara scored at even strength and Dougie Hamilton scored on the power play. (For the record, every time Hamilton has scored a goal, the Bruins have gone on to lose the game and drop a lead in so doing.)
The gameplan when a team has a three-goal lead is fairly simple: hold it together, protect the net and maybe try to extend the lead a little bit. Not so for the Bruins, who gradually allowed Washington to get back into the game. Mike Ribeiro spoiled the idea of Tuukka Rask getting a shutout and Tomas Kundratek got his first-ever NHL goal in the second period because the Bruins are charitable and enjoy the idea of letting newbies get big firsts against them.
In the third period, there were some good attempts at times, including an extremely swift two-on-one by Marchand and Tyler Seguin–but none of them went anywhere valuable–i.e. behind Braden Holtby. Wojtek Wolski then knotted the game at three late in the third.
The Bruins’ desire to not win this game, though, became evident late in the third. Given a power play after Alexander Ovechkin (who seemed to take delight in literally physically crashing the net and treating Rask like something that had to be knocked down in order to score) was done in for hooking, the team just didn’t even seem to care about how they could put something together and possibly pull off a last-minute win.
So, they slipped into overtime and took away the consolation point after Eric Fehr scored little more than half a minute into the extra time.
Blame can be spread around for the outcome of this game like Nutella on toast. Here are a few issues. First and foremost, the defense continues to be just terrible and leaves Rask hanging out to dry. His record against Washington already isn’t super great and he cannot do everything alone, but when the defense in front of him is as strong and pliable as cheap cling wrap, bad things are bound to happen–and do.
The third line has not been fantastic. Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and Chris Bourque all had negative ratings. Remember when the third line could be relied on to score helpful, timely goals?
Only two defensemen, Chara and Adam McQuaid, escaped this game with even or positive ratings.
Again, there seems to be a lack of urgency endemic among many Bruins, except the Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line, which is trying to bail out the entire team but doesn’t have enough funds to cover everyone.
How can the Bruins try to nip this in the bud before it becomes a more egregious losing slump? I’m not sure there’s any one solution, but in the coming days, the team will try to identify it or them. Already the quotes about needing to do better are coming out, but they’ve been saying that pretty much all season, even when they win. How will an astonishing collapse manage to actually create some change?
I suppose we’ll see in the next few days.