BOSTON — The Bruins outplayed the Calgary Flames at even strength, outshot them in all situations and created more scoring chances in Thursday night’s game at TD Garden. But the lack of finish for Boston on these opportunities resulted in a failure to secure two points in a 4-3 shootout loss.
This lack of finish has become one of the most frustrating themes of the season for the B’s. They had leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but loose pucks in front of the net weren’t pounced on and wide open nets weren’t hit. For example, Loui Eriksson had almost the entire net to shoot at during a 3-on-1 rush in the third period, but he shot the puck wide of the post.
“Well we should have, I guess,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien when asked if his team could’ve put the game away in regulation. “If we finish around the net, it’s over. I think we had some good chances in the second period, so right now that’s our biggest challenge, is the finish around the net area.”
Boston was expected to dominate puck possession against a Calgary team with the third-worst Corsi-for percentage in the NHL, and that’s exactly what happened. The B’s had an 89-52 shot attempt edge in all situations and a 67-34 advantage at even strength. They also held a 49-32 edge in scoring chances, per War on Ice.
Boston earned an astounding 30-6 shot attempt edge through the first 16 minutes of the first period and built a deserved 1-0 lead, but the Flames had an 8-1 shot attempt lead over the final four minutes and scored the equalizer on the power play 1:11 from the intermission.
“We definitely created enough chances to give ourselves the win,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. “I mean, we had two 3-on-1s in the third period and we didn’t even end up with a shot on net.
“It seems like that’s been our biggest challenge this season is having that killer instinct and finishing off plays. … We have to do a better job of barring down. We’re doing a good job of competing and creating those opportunities. That part of the game can’t stop, but on the other end we have to, everyone forward and D-man, everyone who’s getting an opportunity we have to find ways to have confidence in those scoring areas and finish off the play.”
The Bruins have controlled more than 50 percent of even-strength shot attempts in nine of their 13 games since the start of February, but they’ve gone just 4-6-3 with a 7.9 shooting percentage (25th in the league) in that span.
There’s certainly a bit of bad luck involved when it comes to Boston’s lack of finish. This team is too talented to rank 24th in the league with an 8.57 shooting percentage, but when offense is hard to come by on a prolonged basis, a lack of confidence becomes a factor.
“It’s a little bit of maybe confidence, and you squeeze your stick you’re trying so hard,” Julien said. “There’s a lot of guys, use Carl Soderberg as an example. He’s really struggled the last little while scoring goals, and guys are putting pressure on themselves. There’s games where you like your team’s game, but your finish is what ends up killing you at the end.”
The Bruins need to start burying these Grade-A scoring chances soon because there are now three teams in a position to catch up to the Original Six club in the last wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. One of those teams is the Philadelphia Flyers, who the Bruins will play Saturday afternoon at the Garden.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images