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BOSTON (CBS) – For once, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien couldn’t claim that his players don’t worry about media reports and rumors.
In fact, after the Bruins lost 6-5 in a shootout to Montreal on Wednesday, Julien even admitted that he could tell a couple of players were shaken by all the trade talk targeted at the Bruins.
“I don’t know if it affected the game, but I know it’s present,” Julien said. “There’s a lot of rumors circling around our team. And I called a couple players into my office just to talk before the game about certain things and they were a little jumpy, they were all expecting the worst news. And it had nothing to do with trades more than talking about the game. So it’s present and it’s pretty obvious why.”
As it turned out, the players had a reason to be worried. But more on that later.
Maybe that shakiness translated into the Bruins loosening up and finally scoring goals the way an NHL team is supposed to score them. The five goals matched a season high the Bruins reached just once before. And the outburst was their largest goal total since they scored four goals in back-to-back games against Florida and Washington on March 14 and 16 (they’d scored just eight goals in the five games since).
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There’s no use crying over this loss. Sure it’s a bit disconcerting that the Bruins dropped another third-period lead. In fact, they led twice by two goals in the third – and still managed to fall to 9-4-2 on the season when leading after 40 minutes.
Julien put this loss in a different category than the other third-period collapses, and I would tend to agree with him. The Canadiens scored a late goal to cut the lead to one on a puck that deflected off defenseman Dennis Seidenberg’s face back to Brendan Gallagher. The tying goal was scored on a deflection off Zdeno Chara during a Montreal 6-on-4 after Aaron Johnson accidentally batted the puck out of the rink for a penalty.
And then the shootout – the ultimate “coin-flip” way to determine a result in sports – didn’t go Boston’s way. So the Bruins left the Garden with a one-point deficit in the Northeast Division rather than a one- or two-point lead. Big deal.
The Bruins erupted for five goals, and Brad Marchand (one goal in his previous 11 games) and Nathan Horton (one goal in his previous 14 games) both lit the lamp. In fact, Marchand was reunited with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin from the second period on and those three guys combined for nine points.
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Now the Bruins’ offense looks like it’s finally out of its doldrums. And thanks to Jarome Iginla’s decision to pick Pittsburgh over Boston and other suitors, the Bruins should still be antsy – at least until next Wednesday’s trade deadline. That could lead to even more goals (in addition to Boston’s upcoming schedule featuring Philadelphia and Buffalo over the weekend).
The Bruins might have to patch things up with Matt Bartkowski and Alexander Khokhlachev, who were rumored to be headed to Calgary, but the payoff might be all the players in black and gold will be trying to make a statement to the Bruins that they want to stay.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.