–Strong Caron Jordan Caron had what was inarguably his best game as an NHLer today, notching a goal and an assist. Caron was physical, smart, and a presence on the ice on every shift. His pressure on the forecheck led directly to Benoit Pouliot’s first period goal, and his smart read and wicked slapper tied the game for the B’s in the second. I’ve soured on Caron a bit recently, as his development seemed to have plateaued a bit. However, if Caron can continue to play like he did today, I’ll be happy to eat those words.
–Third was first The Silk Line played well today, but the best Bruin line was the third line trio of Caron, Pouliot and Chris Kelly (though the fourth line was great too). Pouliot and Caron were obviously huge, with the two goals scored, but that entire line was active and engaged all afternoon. With Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton out, the B’s are going to need secondary scoring; performances like today’s from the third line will go a long way towards shoring up that scoring need.
Welcome, Lane Lane MacDermid welcomed himself to the NHL by fighting Mike Rupp on the first shift of his career. MacDermid handled himself very admirably against Rupp, who is a tough customer and a big guy. Well done, kid.
–Slowwwwwwwww start Another game, another slow start for the B’s. Falling behind 2-0 to the East’s best team on the road is bad. Doing the aforementioned in the first six minutes of the game is inexcusable. Catch-up hockey is losing hockey, something the B’s know well at this point.
–Off goalies Tim Thomas and Henrik Lundqvist are two of the best goalies in the league, but neither was very good today. Thomas made just 13 saves, while Lundqvist was uncharacteristically shaky, allowing a number of wonky rebounds. Strangely off games for two of the league’s best.
–Poor decisions The B’s made a number of poor decisions today, including a few from players that are usually among the most dependable. Zdeno Chara’s ill-advised turnover in the slot led directly to a Rangers’ goal, while failure to clear the puck led to another. Defensemen pinched at the wrong times, and Dennis Seidenberg’s failed clear off the back wall led to the Rangers’ third goal. The Rangers are a good enough team to beat you at your best; giving the puck away is making it a little too easy.
–No breaks It’s just the way it goes when teams are mired in slumps, isn’t it? A puck that should have been in rolls across the goal line; a shot labeled for the back of the net hits the post. The B’s had a number of “bad luck” plays today: Greg Zanon attempted to block a pass, and instead knocked it past Thomas; Brad Marchand’s backhander hit the post, hit Lundqvist, and rolled across the goal line and out; and Marchand’s later backhand slid through Lundqvist’s five-hole and past the far post. As a text from my brother said, the B’s simply can’t buy a break right now. Rough stuff.
What went wrong
The first shift after a goal is often extremely important, and the B’s failed on that shift big time today. Momentum is important in hockey games, but is even more critical in the third period. The B’s had all of the momentum on their side: not only had they dominated the second period, but they bounced back from Marian Gaborik’s goal to tie the game over halfway through the third. So how did they respond? By getting sloppy and allowing Michael Del Zotto to carry the puck into the attacking zone and drop it back to a wide-open, uncovered Derek Stepan, who didn’t miss. Awful. The B’s should have had all of the momentum; instead, they lost it all after just 39 seconds, and essentially LOST the game on the goal-following shift instead of solidifying their position.
Attaboy Caron. He was fantastic today, and could serve as the boost the B’s need in the absence of Horton and Peverley.
Providence Shuttle Bad bounces. It’s kind of lame to blame a loss on luck, but the B’s just can’t catch a break right now. Sure, luck wasn’t the only reason why they lost, but it certainly didn’t help.