For the sixth time this season, the Boston Bruins forgot the meaning of holding and potentially expanding a lead as they sat in satisfaction on a 2-0 lead for a huge chunk of the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Without the desire to put up more goals or to help defend Anton Khudobin, who stood on his head and made some huge saves, they watched their lead melt away late in the third and turn into a 3-2 Penguins win.
Yes, for the sixth time in this shortened campaign–where the Bruins have just played 24 games, by the way–they’ve failed to maintain a two-goal lead. That’s a 25 percent rate of blowing the lead.
That’s not to say this entire game was terrible. Like I said above, Khudobin was spectacular. Zdeno Chara scored on the power play. Tyler Seguin got one goal closer to matching his linemate Brad Marchand‘s team-leading goal output. Marchand and Patrice Bergeron both worked hard on Seguin’s goal and actually, Bergeron screening Marc-Andre Fleury was a big part of Chara scoring too.
But then the Bruins got comfortable holding that lead. Maybe they got cocky. The Penguins started setting up camp in the Bruins’ zone, firing shot after shot at Khudobin, to the tune of out-shooting Boston by a 34 to 16 margin. The Penguins literally got more than twice as many shots on goal. In the third period, where the Bruins once dominated, they took only four shots on Fleury. These numbers aren’t any fun.
Playing the second game in a back-to-back isn’t any excuse for this loss. This is actually their second back-to-back of the entire season, though they have another coming up this weekend against none other than the Washington Capitals and the Penguins again. To give the team credit, no one is willing to use being tired as an excuse. But what are they going to say? The same tired old lines they say after every game about not playing a full 60, the knowledge that they can do better, that they failed to continuously play their big defensive style?
We know all of this already, Boston. When are you all willing to put your money where your mouths are? Half of the regular season has elapsed and time is starting to not be on your side.
Yes, this was Pittsburgh, a team stacked with high-scoring talent. But for much of the game, it looked completely winnable, which would have defied a lot of conventions.
There are some players I have been concerned with for long stretches of this shortened season, including tonight. One of them is Milan Lucic, who hasn’t scored since Feb. 24. He’s sprinkled in some assists since then, but as part of the top line, he should be doing better. Actually, that goes for the entire top line–they can all do better. Andrew Ference on defense has been a consistent issue as well, to the point that it’s often easy to find #21 in replays of goals being scored on the Bruins. He’s going to become an unrestricted free agent following this season and is doing a great job proving that he deserves a new contract–in Bizarro World.
So now this team heads home to face the Florida Panthers on March 14. Will they add to their atrocious rate of blowing leads or could they actually make a good game of it? Questions will become answers.