The old adage that you can’t win them all is certainly in play for the Boston Bruins at this point in the season as they rack up points and break NHL records for team success. On Thursday night the Boston Bruins had their 10-game winning streak snapped as they fell by a 3-2 score to the Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden and really showed some of the bad habits that can creep into their overall game from time-to-time when they don’t stay on top of it.
Chief among those flaws was a complete lack of aggression offensively where they passed up open looks at the net to force passes to teammates, and a general lack of push attacking the net through long stretches of a game where they managed just 28 shots on net against the Oilers. There were too many Boston Bruins forwards, from David Krejci to Charlie Coyle and newcomer Tyler Bertuzzi among others, that had just one or zero shots on net and just never became a factor in the game offensively.
The third period has been Boston’s hallmark strength all season, but this time around they took their foot off the gas pedal and couldn’t close out a game against a quality opponent looking to take it from them.
“We’ve got to learn from it. I thought we got back on our heels and didn’t deny their speed, and they took it to us,” admitted Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. “We’ve always been good about staying on our toes and staying hungry, but I think tonight was a good example of letting them get back in the game. They’re too good offensively to let that happen.
“We’ve been good at finding ways to get that third goal, getting that extra lead and finding that cushion. That’s the type of hockey we’re going to get down the stretch, and we have to learn from it and find ways to play in those tight-checking games. And we have. But I think we have to learn from that third [period] and be better. We’ve never been satisfied and that’s been part of our DNA all year. A lot of outside shots, a lot of outside chances and there’s always things to improve.”
Perhaps it was about focusing too much on shutting down Connor McDavid, which they did, at the cost of their own offensive game, but to a man the Boston Bruins gave credit where it was due after falling to a solid Oilers hockey club.
“I thought we checked pretty well tonight, but I thought the Oilers were the better team,” said Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery. “I thought they outplayed us, outworked us and outcoached us. I thought we were good in the second [period], but we passed up too many opportunities to push the lead, you know?
“We were a very non-competitive team offensively tonight, I guess is the best way to say it. Turning down shots, not driving to the hard areas, not winning enough battles to create offensive zone time. It’s a good lesson for us to learn because [the Edmonton Oilers] played well.”
The good news for the Boston Bruins is they get right back into it with a Saturday afternoon matinee against the Red Wings on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.