No lead is safe for the Bruins

The Boston Bruins gave up a two goal lead after two periods before beating the Edmonton Oilers in overtime.
The Boston Bruins gave up a two goal lead after two periods before beating the Edmonton Oilers in overtime. / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages

They did it again. The Boston Bruins were up 3-1 in the second period against the Los Angeles Kings. Even after the Kings tied the game in the third, Boston took a 4-3 lead. But with 1:35 left to play, the Bruins allowed a tying goal, before finishing the collapse in overtime.

After the game, Bruins’ head coach Jim Montgomery was not happy:

“Our desperation has not, since the break,” mused Montgomery. “(We) matched our opponents’ [desperation] consistently.”

“It’s not good enough right now,” added Montgomery, who stressed he is disappointed rather than frustrated. “Tonight, that’s a game we should win, in my opinion. The execution isn’t where it should be. I give the [Kings] credit, they never stopped competing. That’s what desperate teams do.”

The Bruins are a game into a four-game road trip after an embarrassing seven game home stand. They lost four straight at home and went 2-4-1 over those seven games.

The Boston Bruins have a problem with maintaining leads

Boston struggles to put away opponents. As of Thursday morning, Boston has a 25-1-6 record when leading after two. Isolated, it’s a good record, but it’s deceiving. Only the New York Islanders (18-1-6) and Columbus Blue Jackets (10-1-6) have as many losses when leading after two.

For perspective, the 2022-23 Bruins didn’t lose seven games when leading after two all season, finishing 47-1-2.

To the Bruins’ credit, Friday’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings was the first loss when leading after two since the Minnesota Wild came back from 2-1 down on December 19. It was part of a period when the Bruins surrendered third period leads in three out of four games.

That doesn’t mean it’s no longer a concern.

Good teams rarely blow leads. Of the teams with at least 30 wins, only the New York Rangers (24-3-2), Toronto Maple Leafs (23-3-2) and Bruins have at least five losses when up after two. Hell, few bad teams blow leads. The New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators, and San Jose Sharks have at least five losses when leading after two.

That’s not good company for the Bruins.

Pinpointing the problem isn’t simple. The Bruins have the fourth best goal differential. They are in the top-10 in goals scored. And Boston has two goalies in the top 20 of goals against average.

But too often they are chasing the puck in their own zone, which is reflected in their 47.81 percent Corsi, 23rd in the league. Goals allowed per period increases from 36 in the first, to 50 in the second and 58 in the third. It’s hard enough to win in this league. The Bruins are making it harder.

Even when Boston wins, there are concerns. They needed to come from behind to beat a shorthanded Dallas Stars in a shootout, then they gave up three third period goals to the Edmonton Oilers before tying in regulation and winning in overtime.

By the thinnest margins, the Bruins won those games. But it wouldn’t take much to be on the wrong end of those results. Boston needs to tighten up their game or risk falling apart.