For the second week in a row the Boston Bruins fell victim to a simple sports psychology 101 ‘no-no.’
A coach of mine once said, “If you set the bar too low, you’ll fall flat on your face.” This comes to mind after the Bruins battled against the Pittsburgh Penguins, falling short 3-2, and against the Anaheim Ducks, triumphantly defeating the team after regulation time and overtime, to win in a shootout. The squad, for the second consecutive week, has continued to play to their level of competition.
On Halloween Eve, the B’s ventured out to Pittsburgh to face off against the Penguins for the first time since ousting them, with a broom – in sweeping fashion, in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals. Jumping on the offense quickly, the Penguins outshot the Bruins in the first period 13-7. Hopping on the board early, the Penguins scored a power play goal by Chris Kunitz in the second period. One minute into the third period, Patrice Bergeron tied the game from the Bruins. Both teams battled intensely mid-way and late in the period, scoring a combined three goals from 10 shots. The Penguins scored two goals back-to-back before Jarome Iginla ripped a slapshot to cut the difference to one with about two minutes left in the game. The Bruins blocked 11 shots, gave-away the puck twice, and won 30 out of 53 face-offs. Although the Bruins left Pittsburgh with a loss, they demonstrated their talent.
The team carried their mentality of battling through all three periods the next night back home at TD Garden against the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks took it to the Bruins in the first period, scoring two minutes into the period and outshooting them 5-1. However, the Bruins, in the second period, did what they do best when playing high-level competition: fight back. Carl Soderberg tied the game up for the B’s before Mathieu Perrault scored with 21 seconds left in the period to take the lead back for the Ducks. In a tight battle throughout the third period, captain Zdeno Chara came in clutch with three minutes for the Bruins, capitalizing on a power play. The Bruins continued with the momentum into overtime, as the Ducks were unable to release a shot on net. Heading into a shootout, the Bruins would only need three rounds to take the victory. Tuukka Rask stopped all three shots faced from the Ducks, while Jarome Iginla scored what was the game-winning goal in the second round for the Bruins. The team started off lackadaisical, only peppering one shot at Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller in the first period, but were able to push through all three periods, an overtime and a shootout to defeat the Ducks.
The third game of the week featured another slow start for the Bruins, resulting in a tough 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders. The first period was quiet on both ends of the ice, with no goals scored. However, the second period exhibited a fleet of goals, three from New York and a mere one from Boston. Dougie Hamilton scored on a power play for the Bruins with five minutes left in the period to cut the lead to one. Unfortunately, the Islanders shut down the outburst of momentum shift 30 seconds later by a goal from Thomas Vanek, a prominent player in Atlantic Division before being traded from the Buffalo Sabres this season. Overall, the 19 giveaways by the Bruins determined their downfall in the game.
The Bruins went from only giving away the puck nine times against Anaheim, to 19 giveaways against the Islanders. Hopefully the Bruins can eliminate playing to the level of their competition next week and for the rest of the season. Boston takes on former-Bruin, Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars at TD Garden on Tuesday Nov. 5 at 7:00 p.m. EST.