BOSTON — The Bruins once again failed to send the TD Garden crowd home happy Thursday, scoring the first two goals but surrendering the final three in a loss to the visiting Colorado Avalanche.
For whatever reason, the consistency Claude Julien’s club has found outside of Boston simply has not translated on home ice. The disparity between the Bruins’ home and road records is glaring enough (1-5-1 compared to 6-2-0), but the manner in which they’ve lost has been even more concerning.
Of the Bruins’ six home defeats this season, only one — a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens that was not nearly as close as the score indicated — could be considered a straight-up clunker. They scored multiple first-period goals in four of the remaining five and led 1-0 after a period in the other.
But after first intermission, the Bruins’ fortunes have gone downhill in a hurry. They own a plus-1 goal differential in the first period of home losses but are a combined minus-14 in the second, third and overtime.
Thursday’s loss was more of the same, with Boston scoring twice in the first six minutes but going silent for the final 54:09.
“Well, it?s the same old, I guess,” head coach Claude Julien said. “We?re off to good starts again, and then you get a 2-0 lead, and instead of continuing to play your game, you started seeing some long passes that ended up in icings. You saw some turnovers at the blue line. We?re being a little stubborn right now with respecting our game plan for the whole game.
“… I thought in the third period, it was more of one team a little bit more determined than the other. We didn?t win enough battles, we didn?t win enough races. This is our building. This is a game we have to win in our own building, and we let it get away.”
Growing pains were expected for this new-look Bruins’ team, but it’s not as if this season has been a disaster. Their ability to get the job done away from home has kept the B’s very much within striking distance in a competitive Atlantic Division.
Yet it’s clear the lack of success in their home building is beginning to wear on the players. Goalie Tuukka Rask pointed to the mental mistakes and blown assignments that have been so prevalent in these losses. Defenseman Adam McQuaid grappled with his words for a moment before reiterating the team’s mantras about consistency and playing complete games.
Winger Brad Marchand, steaming over not only the loss but also the illegal hit he sustained from Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, could have been describing any of a number of games this season when he said, ?It?s frustrating, especially at home.”
The Bruins still are just 15 games into an 82-game season. But if they hope to make a legitimate bid for a playoff spot, the Jekyll and Hyde tendencies they’ve displayed thus far simply will not cut it.
“We can?t keep going in that direction where you?re good one game, you?re bad the next, you?re good the one afterwards and it?s kind of up and down,” Julien said. “We?ve got to try and get some strings of good games going and build some sort of identity that you?re capable of holding onto game after game — at least try, anyways.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images