Bruins

Milbury breaks down Bruins power play struggles

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Milbury breaks down Bruins power play struggles

The Bruins (7-1-1, 15 points) are tops in the Northeast Division at this point in the season, but it's certainly not because of their power play.

Despite the B's focus on improving it, they went into Thursday boasting one of the worst power play percentages this season in the league.

In fact, they're just ahead of the New York Rangers for 29th place, coming in at 8.8 percent (3-34).

Mike Felger and Mike Milbury break down the B's power play issues on CSNNE's debut show of Cross Check.

"I asked the question first, do they have enough talent?" Milbury said. "I think they do. They have scoring up front, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. Certainly Lucic that front presence, Brad Marchand will go there. They have speed to get it in the zone, be it Tyler Seguin or Rich Peverley, so talent is not the issue."

So what is the issue then? If the talent is there, is it simply a case of not using it correctly? Milbury has an idea.

"I think they make a mistake going to forwards on the blue line," he said. "I think they have to stick with defensemen there. They've got enough talented players now with Dougie Hamilton if he is what we think he is, and Zdeno Chara, and Dennis Seidenberg. Those three guys can rotate through."

Perhaps that's a route that B's coach Claude Julien will have no choice but to take, but it ultimately falls on the players to execute.

"It's mostly talent, and I think coaches overwork it, over-think it, and the players right now on the Bruins looks like they lost their confidence on the power play. Time to step back," Milbury said.

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game.