The Boston Bruins have dropped four of their last five games, but tonight’s 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks was particularly troubling.
Boston’s defense was on display in a bad way in this contest, with Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg executing ugly passes that Canucks forward Shawn Matthias was able to capitalize on:
Matthias had a hat trick as he also accounted for Vancouver’s opening goal. He has 13 goals in 52 games this season, with five of those markers coming in his last four contests.
This was the opening tilt in an important five-game road trip for the Bruins. With a 28-20-7 record, their hold on the second Wild Card spot is tenuous and Hamilton recently noted that there’s “a lot of negativity in the room.” Certainly this defeat won’t do anything to help that.
Vancouver has now won three of its last four contests to improve to 31-20-3. The Canucks needed these two points to keep pace with San Jose tonight in the battle for second place in the Pacific Division. The victory also gives the Canucks a four-point cushion in the fight for a postseason berth.
They’ll head to Calgary for another important game Saturday night.
With three regulation defeats in their last four, including last night’s 5-3 home loss to Dallas, “negativity” has crept back into the Boston Bruins’ mindset — just in time for a five-game road trip that starts Friday in Vancouver, before stops in Calgary, Edmonton, St. Louis and Chicago.
“You’re feeling so good, and everything is positive, and it kind of all goes the other way again… a lot of negativity in the room, I guess, this last weekend,” said d-man Dougie Hamilton, per CSN New England. “That’s what happens when you’re losing, and we have to find a way to change that obviously on this road trip.”
Not even two weeks ago, the B’s were ending the month of January on an 8-1-1 run. At the time, they had themselves a comfortable nine-point playoff cushion.
Today, that cushion has dwindled to just four points over the Florida Panthers, who also hold two games in hand.
“It is disappointing,” captain Zdeno Chara said after the Stars game, in which the B’s surrendered two short-handed goals and went 0-for-3 on the power play.
“We know that it was our last game for a while at home and now we have a long road trip.”
Boston might have a cheaper solution in its search for a goalscoring winger, as ESPN reports the club has Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson on its radar.
Atkinson, 25, is hardly a household name but has been a solid contributor in Columbus over the last two seasons. A pending RFA with a $1.15 million cap hit, Atkinson scored a career-high 21 goals and 40 points last year and is averaging over 17 minutes a night this season (another career-high).
The Bruins have long been tied to Buffalo’s Chris Stewart, who carries a $4.15M hit, but Atkinson could be a better fit — in addition to being younger and cheaper than Stewart, he also has ties to the area, having spent three years at Boston College.
After losing to the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the 2014 playoffs, the Boston Bruins couldn’t weren’t able to get revenge at any point during the 2014-15 campaign. Montreal earned a 3-1 victory against Boston tonight to complete their 4-0-0 sweep of the regular season series.
As was the case in the previous two meetings, Carey Price stood tall against the Bruins. He kicked out 34 of 35 shots, frustrating Boston’s shooters all game. It wasn’t until 15:29 of the third period that 18-year-old David Pastrnak just barely beat the Canadiens goaltender by knocking the bouncing puck towards the crease.
That ended Price’s shutout streak against the Bruins at 159:25 minutes, per Boston’s Twitter feed. It gave the Bruins hope in the final minutes of the game, but Boston couldn’t even things. Instead, Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov fired on the empty net with 31 seconds left in regulation time to give Montreal all the insurance it needed.
Max Pacioretty also came up big for the Canadiens tonight with an assist and the game-winning goal on a breakway.
Although the books are closed on the regular season meetings between Boston and Montreal, we might not have to wait much longer to view the next chapter of this rivalry. It’s entirely possible that the Bruins will end up facing the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. Of course, for that to happen, Boston needs to hold onto its postseason spot. With a 28-18-7 record, the Bruins have a six-point cushion in the Wild Card race.
The Boston Bruins have been on fire lately with a 9-2-1 record, but that hasn’t been enough to undo all the damage from their early season struggles. They currently hold the second Wild Card spot and have a long climb ahead of them if they want to secure the home ice advantage in the first round. Of more immediate concern though is the fact that their playoff spot is far from guaranteed.
So the stakes are high for the Bruins as they go into this rivalry game against the Montreal Canadiens. Even if they weren’t though, this would be a contest that the Bruins would desperately love to win. Montreal has already beaten Boston three times this season and this is the Bruins’ last chance to avoid the series sweep.
The contest will start at 7:30 p.m. ET and can be viewed on NBCSN. You can also stream it on to NBC Sports Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some related links:
Price protection? Therrien says running over goalies ‘has to stop’
Bruins’ second D pair of Seidenberg-McQuaid is an issue
NHL on NBCSN: The Bruins look to avoid a fourth straight loss vs. Montreal