Sunday, November 28, 2010
Thrashers 4, B's 1: Five from afar
By James Murphy
The Bruins suffered their second straight loss after another rough start, allowing three first-period goals in a 4-1 loss to the Thrashers. Boston seems to be lacking emotion at the beginning of games and it won’t get any easier as the Bruins face the Flyers on Wednesday and Tampa Bay on Thursday. Here are five thoughts from afar on what went wrong in Atlanta:
Bad start -- again: Once again, the Bruins came out flat and this time they found themselves down 3-0 after one period. The B's appeared to be skating in quicksand as they couldn’t carry the puck out of their zone with any success and committed numerous turnovers, two of which led to first-period Atlanta goals.
The Bruins have now allowed the first goal in five straight games and in 10 of their last 11 contests. They were outshot 12-10 in the first period, and while they came alive halfway through the second, scoring a goal and outshooting the Thrashers 17-8 in the middle period, they allowed a goal with 12 seconds left and trailed 4-1 headed to the third.
A boarding penalty by Daniel Paille caused a stir on the ice, led to an Atlanta goal and may have sealed Paille's ticket out of Boston.
Boston outshot Atlanta 41-26 overall but this pattern of slow starts needs to stop. With goals hard to come by, the Bruins can’t afford to constantly play from behind.
Stuart-Seidenberg pairing struggles: Defensemen Mark Stuart and Dennis Seidenberg had particularly tough starts as they were on the ice for the first three Atlanta goals. Stuart finished the game at minus-2 and Seidenberg was minus-3. Both are going to need to be better in their own zone, especially Seidenberg, who is being counted on as a No. 2-caliber defenseman after reupping with the Bruins for four seasons and $3.2 million per. Coach Claude Julien mixed up the defensive pairings for the remainder of the game, but both Stuart and Seidenberg need to be better.
Lack of chemistry hurts: By no means is this an excuse for the Bruins' poor performance, but there was a clear lack of chemistry on the forward lines. With Jordan Caron and David Krejci out with the flu, Claude Julien was forced to shuffle his lines, inserting rookie Jamie Arniel into the lineup for his first NHL game. Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder showed some of the chemistry they shared during the 2008-09 season but they clearly missed Krejci in the middle. Arniel finished a minus-1 in 12:26 with three shots on goal.
Also lacking was chemistry on the power play as the Bruins went 0-for-4. The power play has been anemic all season and won’t be corrected until the Bruins start shooting more on the man-advantage. They really need to find a quarterback on the power play. When Marc Savard gets back, he may fill that role, but the team really needs a solid, puck-moving defenseman.
Paille on the outs?Daniel Paille proved to be a great pickup by general manager Peter Chiarelli early last season as he was a versatile, strong defensive forward who thrived on the Bruins' successful penalty kill. But this season, rookies Brad Marchand and Caron bounced Paille up to the press box as a frequent healthy scratch. When he has played, Paille hasn’t delivered the strong defensive presence he did last season.
On Sunday he also lacked discipline when he hit rookie forward Alexander Burmistrov from behind, leading to a Thrashers power-play goal that put Atlanta back up by three headed to the final period. With Chiarelli having to clear $1.1 million in cap space for Savard’s pending return, it may be time to either trade or waive Paille and his $1 million hit.
Atlanta is for real: Although hardly anyone is noticing them, even in their own city, the Atlanta Thrashers are for real. They made that painfully clear to the Bruins and are making it known around the league, winning five straight and leap-frogging the Bruins into the seventh slot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Former Bruins assistant coach Craig Ramsay is an early candidate for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (four points Sunday) is an early Norris Trophy candidate for best defenseman, despite being used as a forward in Chicago.