Even though all signs pointed to the Boston Bruins defeating the Buffalo Sabres last night, the Bruins couldn’t gather the type of defense necessary to capture a routine win.
I said that the Bruins really shouldn’t lose this game. Falling short against a weak team like Buffalo should only happen if the B’s are irresponsible with the puck.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened in this one. The Bruins did score four goals, and yes, they were leading by a goal with under a minute remaining in the third period.
It was a combination of factors, though, that ultimately led to the Black and Gold’s demise.
Chad Johnson didn’t perform to his strengths in net. Fans are used to seeing Johnson as the reliable man between the pipes when Rask isn’t available. He had recently displayed his ability to win games for the Bruins, but he just couldn’t find his victorious mojo in Buffalo. Brian Flynn‘s snap shot goal in the second period was definitely savable; it’s safe to say that Rask would’ve made that stop. Also, Matt D’Agostini smoked Johnson for the game-winning overtime goal.
It was really the defense as a whole that displayed the Bruins’ weakness and instability. Torey Krug is one D-man who didn’t play well. He’s great on the power play and exceptional wielding the puck on opponents’ blue lines. However, he was responsible for almost half of the Sabres’ goals.
Matt Bartkowski and Johnny Boychuk also had difficulties keeping the B’s goal safe from attacking Sabres. Bartkowski and Boychuck’s poor efforts basically handed Matt Moulson the timely game-tying goal.
Realizing that the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics just ended, one could make the argument that some of the Bruins’ Olympians were either distracted or just plain fatigued. This point is certainly valid. Loui Eriksson wasn’t at his best mentally, making a couple questionable passes cross ice. Eriksson did, however, rip a fair amount of shots on net.
Zdeno Chara wasn’t his typical dominant self. Despite burying a important power play goal, Chara wasn’t able to prevent D’Agostini from nailing the OT goal.
In short, the Bruins weren’t the team that fans are accustomed to watching and admiring. While defense was the primary complication, the offense couldn’t snag the final goal to send the B’s home with a triumph. If one group falters, the other one has to pick up the slack. Boston’s defense was simply too careless.
On Saturday, the Bruins will go head-to-head with the Washington Capitals, who maintain a solid two-game winning streak. Claude Julien must ensure that his team will skate at full force.