If I were an NHL coach and my first line gave up 1 goal late in the third period I’d seriously cut back on their ice time for the remainder of period. Give up 2 goals and they wouldn’t play another shift again. I am however not an NHL coach, but a very disgruntled Bruins fan who again witnesses another 3rd period collapse, not only another one this season but yet ANOTHER to Pittsburgh. In what was almost a mirror image of the 2011 collapse against the Pens when Bill Guerin scored the game winner with barely any time left in the third period, the Bruins poor defensive play and sloppy offensive breakouts cost them a game they should have had locked up.
There have been many instances so far this season of players on the Bruins giving up the puck at the worst of times and costing themselves the game. Ference has been guilty of it twice and tonight it was Nathan Horton on the blue line which gave the Pens the lead. The Boston Bruins had scored 2 early goals in the first, one of the powerplay from Zdeno Chara and a falling tap in by Tyler Seguin top shelf put the Bruins up 2-0 over the Pens. But the Pens offence awoke at the right time to put the Bruins down and out with seconds to go in the game. How do you combat such a offence heavy squad like the Penguins? Shut down and pinch defence, not dump and chase. The Boston Bruins could barely create a defensive layer when the Penguins created breakouts on them during the period. They would all pinch up on one penguin and let the rest follow the puck when it squirted free instead of standing up at the blue line and creating a wall.
Anton Khudobin should not be blamed for the turn around by the Penguins tonight. He faced 30+ shots and each goal by the Pens could have been avoided if the defence were to pinch harder and play shutdown defence. The Bruins just played an overall sloppy aggravating game after they took the lead and let the momentum get away from them quickly. The 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period should have been enough to bring things back for the Bruins but the Penguins knew better than to let the old “dump and chase” method get the better of them on breakouts and they read the Bruins breakouts well. The Bruins in general had a very sloppy and poorly played game tonight and each player can assume responsibility in a small way. But when your first line gives up 2 goals within in 51 seconds, that becomes a defensive liability and when their breakouts cannot connect even in their own zone.. you know you have a problem. If this how this long stretch of March is going to be.. things are gonna have to change as soon as possible.
The Bruins return to the TD Garden on Thursday to take on the Florida Panthers and hopefully put this little blunder behind them.