Scoring has been a struggle for the Boston Bruins, and it may only get tougher on Monday if Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic are unable to play against the Detroit Red Wings.
While head coach Claude Julien isn’t being particularly forthcoming about what, exactly, is ailing either forward, he did describe each of them as day-to-day, as CSNNE.com reports.
Here’s what the Bruins’ forward lines looked like in practice without Bergeron and Lucic:
Matt Fraser was waived later on Sunday, so that could throw things further out of whack. Either way, the pickings would be pretty slim if Bergeron and Lucic cannot go; Boston would have to hope that Loui Eriksson really is rebounding, among other things.
While there are certain factors that seemingly point to a talent deficit, Julien thinks the Bruins’ tough times are a matter of desire and widespread underachievement.
“We just need to be better, collectively and individually,” Julien said. “There’s too much under-performing from our group right now. There’s everybody to blame from the goaltending, out to the defense and to the forwards. There is lots of blame to go around, so it’s important for us as a group to be better, and for us as individuals to be better.”
Having two rather important individuals out of the lineup certainly wouldn’t help matters.
With the holiday roster freeze over the Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins made moves Sunday.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Predators placed center Derek Roy on waivers while the Bruins have waived winger Matt Fraser.
Roy, 31, has a goal and 10 points in 26 games this season while averaging 13:31 in ice time.
Fraser has appeared in 24 games this season with the Bruins scoring three goals. The 24-year-old is averaging 10:31 in ice time.
The Boston Bruins had been on a modest but nice little streak of three wins in four games heading into the holiday break, but that was forgotten Saturday when they were clobbered by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The floodgates opened in the second period and the Blue Jackets skated to a 6-2 victory. Not even the highly anticipated fight between Milan Lucic and Dalton Prout could gain any momentum for Boston.
A quick glance at the Eastern Conference standings shows the Bruins are three points back of the Washington Capitals for the final Wild Card spot as they approach the midway mark of the season.
“The coaches do what they do and they put the game plan together. That game plan works,” Lucic told the Boston Globe.
“It’s worked for the past seven years. It’s up to us as players to come together and, as individuals, step up all of our games and get it moving in the right direction. Because we’re starting to run out of time as far as playing catch-up hockey.”
There was controversy in the second period.
Less than three minutes after Boston cut the Columbus lead to two goals, the Blue Jackets scored to restore their three-goal cushion, however the goal occurred shortly after the puck hit the spectator netting. Play was never stopped and the Blue Jackets eventually scored what was their fifth goal of the evening.
From the NHL’s Situation Room blog:
At 17:43 of the second period in the Boston Bruins/Columbus Blue Jackets game, the puck appeared to hit the spectator netting in the Columbus zone and play continued until the Blue Jackets scored a goal at 19:09. According to Rule 85.1, play shall be stopped when the puck hits the spectator netting unless it goes unnoticed by the on-ice officials, in which case “play shall continue as normal and resulting play with the puck shall be deemed a legitimate play.” Since play continued and the puck was not directed into the net as an immediate result of hitting the spectator netting, this is not a reviewable play and the on-ice decision stands – good goal Columbus.
The re-match had been brewing for some time.
Finally, early in the second period of Saturday’s game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins, Milan Lucic and Dalton Prout finally dropped the gloves in a spirited scrap between two heavyweights.
The two had a run-in in late-November after Prout, believing they were engaged in a fight, dropped Lucic with one punch. Lucic contends he wasn’t engaged in a fight at that time, and he called the one-punch “gutless.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without winger Cam Atkinson for the remainder of Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins.
According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Atkinson suffered an upper-body injury and will not return to the game. The injury appeared to occur on a harmless looking hit along the boards from defenseman Matt Bartkowski early in the opening period.
The 25-year-old Atkinson has eight goals and 14 points in 32 games this season.