Slumping Bruins Not So Special Anymore: Report Card vs Lightning
The slumping Boston Bruins haven’t been too special lately as their anemic powerplay and the lethal powerplay of the Tampa Bay Lightning helped send the Bruins to a 3-2 loss for the second straight game and their fifth straight loss overall.
The Lightning went 2-for-3 on the powerplay as Steven Stamkos scored one of his two goals in the game on the man advantage and Brayden Point also registered a powerplay tally. Stamkos scored the eventual game-winner with 4:47 left in regulation. Meanwhile, the Bruins are now 2-for-28 on the man advantage in their last eight games after going 0-for-2 Thursday night in Tampa Bay.
The holidays have been far from the most wonderful time of the year for the Bruins and they are now 2-4-1 since their 3-2 win overtime win over the New York Rangers on Black Friday (November 29). They will have one more chance to salvage a win on this current four-game road trip when they play the Florida Panthers Saturday night.
Power Failure Strikes Again
After going 0-for-5 in the 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals Wednesday night, the Bruins were 0-for-2 Thursday in Tampa. They had a chance to tie the game at two when Stamkos went to the sin-bin for hooking at 10:28 into the third period and while they mustered up two shots, they never sustained any real pressure. This has been the case too many times with the power play as the Bruins continue to find themselves a man up in crucial situations but don’t deliver. Head coach Bruce Cassidy has tried different d-pairings and lines on each powerplay unit but right now the Bruins cannot seem to build any momentum when they’re given a chance to tie or win a game. After hovering around the top of the league in powerplay rating, the Bruins are struggling at the worst time as they try to snap their five games and counting skid.
No Comebacks Against Contenders
The Lightning may still be sitting two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference but make no mistake, they are still viewed as a Stanley Cup contender and as of late, they’re playing like one. The win over the Bruins was their third straight victory and if they can stay healthy, it won’t be surprising to see them not just in a wildcard spot but battling for at least second place in the Atlantic Division. That’s the second time the Bruins have lost to the lightning this season as their comeback bid fell short back on October 17 and they lost 4-3 to the Bolts in a shootout. The 3-2 loss at Washington Wednesday was also the second loss to another contender in the Capitals, who they also lost to in a shootout after a late comeback, back on November 17. There was no comeback against the Colorado Avalanche last Saturday as the Bruins lost 4-1 and in their previous game against the Av’s, they actually blew a 2-0 lead and lost 4-2. For a team that roared through the first two months of the season, the Bruins haven’t exactly fared well against the big boys this season. Their only win against a legit contender was a 3-0 shutout over the defending Stanley Champion St. Louis Blues back on October 26.
McAvoy Attacking More
One bright spot in the Bruins’ last two losses has been the play of defenseman Charlie McAvoy, whom the coaching staff has been pushing to activate himself into the play more and attack rather than stay totally focused on a shutdown role. That’s been a struggle for the 21-year-old McAvoy in just his second season as he has adjusted to more minutes and plenty of minutes against the opponents’ best players. McAvoy had a team-leading 27:54 TOI Thursday and for the second straight game, he did exactly what his coaches want, pushing the play up ice and attacking in the offensive zone. That earned him an assist for the second straight game and he now has eleven helpers in 33 games. McAvoy is yet to light the lamp but if he keeps playing the way he has the last few games, he will get off the schneid soon.