The Bruins would have loved nothing more than to finish off their four-game road trip with a win over one of their rivals, the Vancouver Canucks. Unfortunately for the B’s, though, they appeared to finally run out of gas.
Boston was wiped out in a 6-2 loss to the team they beat to win the 2011 Stanley Cup. With the lopsided loss, the Bruins were unable to finish off what could have been a perfect road trip. However, there’s reason for the B’s to feel good following a four-game swing through Canada that saw the Bruins win three of their four games.
It wasn’t like the Bruins had a dreadful showing on Saturday night, either. The final score wasn’t pretty, but the B’s hung in until the third period. That’s when the wheels started to fall off, and the effects of a tough road trip started to appear. The Bruins weren’t able to bury scoring chances, especially in the first period. When the Bruins finally broke through early in the second period on a Reilly Smith goal (his first of two Saturday), Canucks coach John Tortorella used a well-timed timeout to slow the Bruins’ push. The Canucks then scored twice in the next five minutes and started to pull away.
“I thought we played a pretty solid game tonight,” B’s coach Claude Julien told NESN’s Jamie Erdahl following his team’s loss. “I thought we had our scoring chances. It was just one of those nights where they scored on theirs and we didn’t on ours. Definitely I think that was the difference in the game.”
This wasn’t your typical four-game swing through the Great White North, which is tough enough for a healthy club. Boston began the trip with a handful of injuries, and things got even worse when they lost Daniel Paille and Dougie Hamilton in a win over the Maple Leafs. The Bruins made corresponding roster moves and finished the trip playing five players who either began the season in Providence or as a healthy scratch in Boston. Additionally, the Bruins were dealing with a flu bug that seemed to affect just about everyone in that locker room at some point in the trip.
The 3-1 road trip looks even better when you take all of that into consideration.
“We’ve been through a lot and I think our guys have responded well and I’m proud of the way we handled this road trip through all the adversity,” Julien added. “It’s unfortunate, we were looking for a good win before heading back home and it was a tough loss in regards to that, but a real good effort on our part.”
The good news for the Bruins is that now they get to head home where they currently have a 13-3-2 record this season. Six of their next nine games are at home and all nine of those games come against teams that are currently outside of the playoff picture in either conference. Only two of those games (both against Nashville) will come against a team with a winning record. The obvious point is that there are plenty of points to be had for the Bruins before they go out on another western road trip in mid-January.
Perhaps most importantly is the fact that the Bruins will get three days off around Christmas when the league takes its annual Christmas break.
The Bruins could certainly use a lull in the schedule, especially given their collective health at the moment. They’ve certainly earned it after what was ultimately a successful trip through Canada.