When the two teams took the ice for the pregame skate prior to their matinee matchup, Jimmy Howard led the Red Wings out, an indication that he would be in net for Detroit. However, shortly before the game started, the official announcement was made that said Red Wings backup Jonas Gustavsson — not Howard — would be in net for the Wings.
Howard’s hand injury was the reason and instead of facing a U.S. Olympic hopeful, Boston would instead be facing a goalie making his first start of the year. Unfortunately for the B’s, they weren’t able to do anything with that as they dropped a 3-2 decision to Detroit.
It’s becoming a bit of an ongoing trend for the Bruins, this whole not scoring enough to win hockey games. The B’s have scored just 12 goals (one was an empty-net tally) in five games so far this season, and they have just five goals in their last three games, a stretch that included two home losses against backup goaltenders.
It’s not like the opportunities haven’t been there. Boston saw plenty of scoring chances Monday afternoon at the Garden, but they weren’t able to capitalize on many. Their first goal was by way of a deflection off of Loui Eriksson, and their second goal from came Milan Lucic with 1:20 to play in the game. That’s all the Bruins had to show for the 30 shots on goal they were credited with.
“We’re really struggling with our finish right now and the pressure of scoring goals,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after the game. “It’s not coming easy and the game in Columbus it took us a while to get going and obviously Colorado, so I think our goal-scoring confidence is probably not where we’d like it to be right now.”
Julien later recanted the idea that his team is struggling with its confidence on the offensive end, instead saying the Bruins are “pressing” right now. Whatever it is, it’s not beneficial.
The power play, which looked as good as it had in years through the first two games, has gone dry. After going 2-for-7 through the first two games of the season on the man-advantage, the Bruins’ power play is 0-for-12 since. That’s thanks in part to a 0-for-5 showing Monday, which included a failed 5-on-3 midway through the third period that last 1:55.
“We didn’t score goals,” defenseman Torey Krug said of the team’s power play. “That’s what we’re judged on. They can say we had great puck movement, but that doesn’t matter because our job is to score goals and get momentum for our team. They did a good job of blocking shots. I had a few that were blocked myself, and I got to do a better job of getting pucks to the net. We got to score goals.”
The Bruins did move the puck pretty well on the power play, perhaps too well. When this man-advantage unit isn’t going well, it’s often because they’re trying to be too perfect. Whether it’s one too many passes or waiting a fraction of a second too long to shoot, there’s certainly an element of being snakebitten for this Boston power play right now.
Perhaps no one personifies the Bruins’ offensive struggles right now better than Jarome Iginla. The new Bruin is still looking for his first goal of the season. He had his chances Monday, especially on the 5-on-3. However, he missed the net twice with one-timers from the left wing, a sign that he’s one of many Bruins pressing right now.
“I think I missed the net on a couple goals, I think it’s probably just being a little too anxious,” he said. “Just lifting my head up and you want to get that goal for the team and just get one and get feeling it. At times you squeeze a little too hard, it’s all those clichés, sayings you hear, you try to swing a little too hard and lift my head a little bit. And just not in a grove there where you just want to kind of will it in the net as opposed to let it happen.”
It’s still too early to think the offensive letdowns are something to be too concerned about. The season is young, and these things tend to be cyclical. Eventually, the bounces will start going the Bruins’ way and they’ll start burying those chances.
Until they break out, though, the frustration they felt Monday will continue to mount.