For a team that's been so solid this entire season, the last few weeks have been somewhat of a letdown.
The Bruins lost 2-1 to the Winnipeg Jets, as they surrendered yet another late goal and eventually lost in a shootout. The pattern follows exactly as it did in their last game played vs the Wild on Tuesday night.
|Bryan Little beats Chad Johnson for the only goal in the shootout (via ESPN.com)|
In both games, the Bruins let up a late goal with just about a minute to go, and in both games, they could not recapture the extra point as it hung in the balance.
The backup goalies for both teams took to the ice in the affair, as both Chad Johnson and Matt Hutchinson put on quite a show. Johnson made 36 saves in the losing effort, and Hutchinson turned aside 32 Bruins shots and picked up the win.
Brad Marchand scored the only goal for the Bruins in the first period, beating Hutchinson for his 24th of the year with a slick backhand right along the ice in the crease. Reilly Smith launched a pass from the neutral zone that missed Marchand but ricocheted right to Marchand as he drove the net. Marchand corralled the puck and slipped it past Hutchinson after pulling the moves.
The game held at 1-0 for the much of the game, with both teams trading chances through the scoreless second period and the almost scoreless third period.
But with just under two minutes to go in the game, it was Evander Kane who tied the game for the Jets, ripping a laser beam shot past Chad Johnson for his 18th of the year.
The game headed to overtime and eventually a shootout, where Bryan Little scored the only goal in the three rounds.
The Jets took the extra point in their last home game of their season. The Bruins take the one and now have 115 points on the year. That is still good for tops in the NHL, three ahead of the Anaheim Ducks.
It's difficult to correctly dissect the current slump the Bruins are playing through, as the playoffs are right around the corner and the Bruins are resting their players night by night. Captain Zdeno Chara and alternate-captain Patrice Bergeron got the night off tonight, and we can expect to see more players get the same treatment.
The Bruins' ridiculous 12-game winning streak in March put them in a great spot to have the luxury of powering down the engines of a 75+ game schedule and rest up in the last week of play. They've placed themselves in such an extraordinary yet touchy position of trying to regenerate their bodies, and at the same time not fall into a lull before the playoffs come around.
After winning a franchise record nine games in a row on the road, the Bruins are 0-1-3 in their last four. Is that a product of a team falling into bad habits, or a team looking ahead to the uber-grind of the playoffs?
I tend to side with the latter. This team does not need the extra points in the standings. What this team needs is to heal up and prepare for the grueling gauntlet that is the NHL playoffs.
|Brad Marchand scored the only goal for the Black and Gold (via ESPN.com)|
They've lacked those elements from their game these last two weeks, but Bruins fans should not fret. With just two more meaningless regular season games to go, you can guarantee this team will be ready come April 16.