Highs and Lows of the Boston Bruins' Season Thus Far
March is a busy month for the Boston Bruins. The team won’t have two off days in succession until the very end of the month and will play 17 games in March.
With a tough schedule ahead of them and several games behind them, the Bruins have certainly had some high—and some low—points thus far this short season. Let’s take a look at a few of the highs and lows of Boston’s season so far.
High: Tyler Seguin Is Currently on Fire
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The 21-year-old center has a few very strong seasons under his belt, and this season will be no exception despite its shorter length. Seguin had a great game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, helping Boston sail to a 3-0 shutout. In particular, as MassLive.com noted, Seguin “made a huge save in front of an empty net to help preserve the shutout as the Bruins took full advantage of the struggling Philadelphia Flyers.”
Coach Claude Julien said of Seguin’s blossoming defensive game, “He’s starting to take some pride in [his defensive] game as well. Those are good things to hear.” He continued, “Every coach likes a two-way player. We certainly don’t want to take the offensive part out of his game, but any time he can help us out at the other end it is a bonus.”
Julien also added, “His game has gotten better…He had a slow start for the last two weeks—he's just being more of Tyler. He’s just found his game and he’s really helped that line be a better line.” So far, Seguin has eight goals and 11 assists for Boston.
Low: Boston Got Beat by Buffalo, Again
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NESN.com called the third period of the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 win over Boston on February 15 an “ugly third period from the Bruins.” Boston had the lead over Buffalo, only to give it up in the third and allow the Sabres to rally for three goals and make the score 4-2.
After the loss, ESPN.com noted, “the Buffalo Sabres haven’t had much success this season, but they can claim one thing: They know how to beat the Boston Bruins.” It certainly seems that way; Buffalo beat Boston 7-4 earlier this season on January 31.
If the Bruins want to go far in the playoffs, they need to make sure teams like the Sabres can’t “know how” to beat them. In a shortened season, every game is crucial, and the Bruins can’t give up games they should be winning.
High: Rookie Dougie Hamilton Is Learning the Ropes
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For a 19-year-old drafted ninth overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Dougie Hamilton is definitely getting some good playing time, and he’s improving with every minute he has on the ice.
NESN.com calls the rookie defenseman an “offensive-minded, puck-moving defenseman” and praises Hamilton for his “aggressiveness in [the] offensive zone” that helped set up Nathan Horton for a goal against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday February 28.
Though Hamilton is obviously still new to NHL level hockey, the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa assures he is “learning the little things” and demonstrating his vision, speed, and offensive skills. Hamilton even got his first NHL goal during the Bruins’ loss to the Sabres on February 15. With a flourishing young defenseman like Hamilton on their squad, the Bruins are certainly well equipped for this season and many to come.
Low: Boston Blew Lead Against Montreal
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On Sunday, March 3, the Bruins endured a frustrating 4-3 loss to Montreal. The Canadiens scored twice in the third period to seal the lead over Boston, largely because Bruin Zdeno Chara was out for 17 minutes serving penalties because he fought with Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin with only five minutes left in the second period.
Bruins coach Claude Julien started to lose his cool at the end of the game and accused the Canadiens of “embellishing.” As NHL.com reported, Julien said, “It’s frustrating because tonight as everybody saw, there’s a lot of embellishment.” He added, “And this is embarrassing for our game, the embellishing.”
Whether or not Julien’s accusations are merited, a veteran like Chara shouldn’t allow himself to get as physical as he did against the Canadiens. Boston can’t afford to lose Chara for 17 minutes during a playoff game.
Low: Boston Also Blew Lead Against Capitals
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Only two days after the loss to Montreal, Boston gave up a 3-0 lead against the Capitals and ended up losing 4-3 to Washington in overtime. This game marked the first meeting between the two teams since the Capitals defeated the Bruins in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
Boston was hot in the first period, scoring three goals and making it look easy. However, they let the Capitals crawl back to tie the game and subsequently win in overtime. Boston goalie Tuukka Rask said of the disappointing game, “We were up by three goals…and were asleep in the second [period] and gave up a couple of unnecessary goals.”
Clearly, the Bruins will have to find a way to wake up before they blow any more leads like this one against Washington.
High: Boston Maintained Shutout Against Philadelphia
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Even though the Bruins blew leads against Montreal and Washington, they certainly proved their ability to hold a team to a shutout on March 9 when they won 3-0 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Boston Globe called the big win a “total team effort” on the part of the Boston Bruins. It certainly was; Seguin grabbed a goal on a power play in the first, the third and fourth lines both registered goals and goalie Tuukka Rask made 23 beautiful saves.
Claude Julien said after the win, “Today was probably the first day I felt much better about our game without the puck in our defensive zone.” He continued, “We didn’t give them much. They didn’t have a ton of scoring chances.”
If the Bruins play like they did against Philadelphia more consistently, they will certainly be a force to reckon with in the playoffs this season.