Boston Bruins: 3 Takeaways from Their 4-3 Loss to the Montreal Canadiens
The Boston Bruins were in the wrong picking order of a pair of lead changes in the second installment of their season series with the Montreal Canadiens. Two initial deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 improved to a 3-2 advantage before devolving into a 4-3 home loss on Sunday night at the TD Garden.
With that, the season series is already half over with each team having reaped a regulation win from each other’s mansion and the cumulative scoring tally deadlocked at 5-5. The visiting Habs have also nudged ahead for tops in the Northeast Division, 32 points to 30, even though Boston has three games in hand.
In the midst of Montreal pulling even in head-to-head and leaping forward in the standings, various forms of absence were exploited on Boston’s end. One set of Canadien forwards in David Desharnais, Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty matched the three-goal output of one Bruins line in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin.
None of that was before one and only one special teams conversion was made. Some of it, though, was produced while one key defensive player was serving a hefty sentence.
All of those key causes and effects of Sunday’s game are detailed further as follows in the top three takeaways for the Bruins.
The New Northeast
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With the halfway mark of everybody’s 48-game schedule fast approaching, the Northeast Division features four of the top six point-getters in the Eastern Conference.
The two-time reigning division champion Bruins are 14-3-2 overall, 10-0-2 against the Atlantic and Southeast and a decisively tighter 4-3-0 versus their fellow Northeasterners in the wake of Sunday’s result.
Contrast that with the way they finished 2011-12, going a combined 19-19-2 with the other sectors of the East while steamrolling the Northeast, 19-4-1.
Since the season’s first divisional duel on Jan. 31 (a 7-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres) Boston has engaged a divisional rival six additional times.
Four of those games, two against these Habs and one each versus Ottawa and Toronto, have been decided by a single goal and have had no instances of a two-goal lead for either party. One of the others, a 3-1 win and 4-2 loss both in Buffalo, featured an empty netter and a dose of insurance added after the halfway mark of the third period.
The Bruins will have 11 more of these yet to come, including two against Montreal on March 27 and April 6. Any one of those games, past or future, could become a microcosm for the derby for the best available playoff berths.
Z Sits, Bs Slip
The principle of avenging a questionable hit on a teammate, especially one who had a night like Seguin, is understood. Even so, the course Sunday’s game took underscores Bruins captain Zdeno Chara taking his loyalty to a fault to throw out an applicable adage.
Within the final five minutes of the second period, Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin decked Seguin in neutral open ice with a cross-check to the side.
That hit sent Seguin to an early intermission beyond his own terms, though he would return to action at the beginning of the third.
By contrast, with 4:25 left in the middle frame, Chara joined Seguin down the runway after aggressively lassoing Emelin and instigating a fight. The towering captain’s indiscretion earned him a whopping 17-minute penalty for the fight, the instigation and a 10-minute misconduct.
In the resultant protracted absence of their towering Norris-caliber blueliner, the Bruins saw a 3-2 lead, heavily courtesy of Seguin’s line, devolve into the unfavorable 4-3 final. Chara would not see action again until nearly four minutes after Desharnais had buried the eventual decider for Montreal.
As volatile as this contest expectedly was, Chara is tenured enough to know better than to take himself out of the action for crossing a line in the heat of the moment. He, along with Milan Lucic, who had fought Brandon Prust within the same minute of play as the two Emelin incidents, arguably played into Montreal’s hands by putting themselves and their skill sets in the penalty box.
The happier medium for a response to the Seguin-Emelin occurrence would have been a legal check on Emelin during his next shift whilst continuing to safeguard, if not build on that 3-2 lead.
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The Bergeron-Marchand-Seguin troika was the only offensive subsector to cultivate any results for Boston on this night. They combined for a 2-6-8 scoring log with 12 shots on goal, most of which were within spitting distance of Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj.
Seguin tallied a goal-assist variety pack, which along with his Saturday strike against Tampa Bay, gives him his first set of goals in consecutive games this season. He had six such streaks in 2011-12, including one that lasted four games and another in the postseason.
Bergeron’s 1-2-3 night pads his team-leading assist bushel to 13. Marchand had a playmaker hat trick and drew Boston’s first of two power plays with 1:10 left in the opening frame.
The only lamp-lighting collaboration the three linemates didn’t share was when Bergeron and Marchand set up Dougie Hamilton, Seguin’s successor as the franchise’s top draft choice, for a go-ahead goal.
Boston’s other nine forwards, though, were scoreless and brooked a combined minus-nine rating as a result of three even-strength Montreal goals.
The Habs―who received production from five of their forwards―tallied the icebreaker on the game’s first power play, which may not have made the difference, but signified a difference.