BOSTON (CBS) – One message from Bruins head coach Claude Julien was verbalized and obviously sunk in.
Another signal from behind Boston’s bench was silent, but just as effective.
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Unfortunately, Julien and his staff weren’t able to deliver the team’s wakeup call until the Bruins were down 2-0 after the 6:15 mark of the first period, and all the dominance Boston exercised over the remaining 43:45 over the New York Rangers Sunday afternoon wasn’t enough to even earn a point in the standings.
While this Bruins squad should be beyond looking at a loss against the only team ahead of it in the Eastern Conference standings as “one to build on,” there was at least one positive to take from Boston’s third defeat in as many tries against the Blueshirts. And it had to do with the aforementioned verbalized message, which came from Julien after the Bruins’ Saturday home loss to the New York Islanders.
“Again, secondary scoring is not very apparent right now,” Julien suggested. “We’re leaning on a lot of the same guys to score goals. If we can get some secondary scoring, I think it will solve a lot of the issues we have right now in winning hockey games.”
Well, after Julien gave his team the silent treatment on the bench during that timeout 6:15, the supporting cast leaped to the forefront of Boston’s attack. By the time the line of Jordan Caron and Benoit Pouliot flanking Chris Kelly was done, the game was knotted at 2 by the 1:40 into the second period. Caron scored the equalizer after his own center-ice steal, while he set up Pouliot’s goal with a deflection of an Anton Stralman pass on the forecheck.
The Bruins were forced to come from behind again in the third period, and this time Boston’s hottest line – David Krejci centering Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin – provided the clutch goal with 8:08 left to play. Unfortunately, Derek Stepan beat Tim Thomas with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle just 39 seconds later for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Nonetheless, the Bruins outshot the Rangers, 33-17, in the game and 33-14 once the score was 2-0 Rangers. And they proved that they can again be more than a one-line team. Kelly’s line was ferocious on the forecheck and created several chances that weren’t cashed in. That trio’s all-around solid play was only tarnished by the questionable, slow line change it made prior to Stepan’s big score.
The new-look fourth line also made its presence felt throughout the contest. With rookie Lane MacDermid (playing for the injured Daniel Paille) answering the bell in his NHL debut against monstrous Michael Rupp and Gregory Campbell earning his first fighting major since Jan. 19. But that threesome, which of course if completed by Shawn Thornton, did more than just throw fists. Boston’s grind line executed a momentum-turning, minute-long offensive-zone shift late in the first period. And Campbell could’ve finished a couple chances in tight, were it not for some spry goaltending by Henrik Lundqvist and a post that got in the way.
When you factor in that second-line left winger Brad Marchand missed scoring two goals by about a combined eight inches and Boston put together a strong 44 minutes on the forecheck and the attack.
Injuries aside, if Boston’s 12 forwards can duplicate Sunday’s effort for a couple weeks, the current two-game losing streak will be a distant memory and the necessary standings points to wrap the Northeast Division title won’t be far off.