SAN JOSE, Calif. With only nine games left in the regular season, the Bruins need every one of their players skating with steely purpose.
Unfortunately, they didnt get that kind of concerted effort Thursday night in the first game of a three-game road trip through California. Instead, the punch-pulling Bruins fell to the San Jose Sharks, 2-1, at HP Pavilion while managing a pitiful nine shots on net in the first two periods.
Patrice Bergeron always has his finger on the pulse of the Bruins, and he sounded profoundly upset they didnt leave it all out on the ice.
The Sharks are a good team defensively, but we need to create more chances, said Bergeron. We stayed on the perimeter too much, and we need to battle getting to the inside and create chances. We got better as the game went along, but they dictated the pace early. We just didnt match it.
Coach Claude Julien tried switching Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron to shake up the forward group, but too many Bs offensive "chances" were shots from far outside that carried no real threat.
Some might have been using the cross-country flight from Boston to San Jose as a excuse for their lethargic play. But that tired, overused alibi doesnt really fly when the three oldest players on the Bruins roster -- 37-year-old Tim Thomas, 34-year-old Zdeno Chara and 39-year-old Brian Rolston -- were among their best players in defeat.
Thomas made 25 saves and turned away all 12 shots he faced in a second-period San Jose onslaught. Chara led all Bruins skaters with eight registered hits and scored Bostons only goal of the game. Rolston finished his night with three shots on net in 15:33 of ice time and, with an assist on Chara's goal, extended his points streak to four games.
On the other hand, Seguin and Milan Lucic attempted some ill-advised plays with the puck that turned into San Jose goals. And Seguin, Bergeron, Chris Kelly and David Krejci all went 60 minutes without even registering a shot on net.
We had a lot of players that looked a little sluggish," said Julien. "We didnt have the same energy and speed that wed had in the last couple of games . . .
With some of our top lines, if theyre not producing then they cant let themselves be scored on. Youre not going to score every night, but you cant get scored on like that all the time like they have lately. We had too many guys on the top lines that werent pulling their load. It made it hard to be on an even level with the Sharks.
On the heels of winning two games at home, the Bruins missed yet another chance to really gain some traction when they didnt commit to enough in the offensive end. It was the Sharks -- currently out of the top eight in the Western Conference standings -- who were hungrier, and they had a familiar look to Tim Thomas.
They came out and played like they wanted to," said Thomas. "They turned things around and theyd been on a losing streak . . . It was kind of like wed done the last couple of games.
Were having a hard time picking up momentum and keeping it for long. The good thing is, weve just recently proved that we can pick up our level of play, so we just need to make sure we do that on Saturday at Los Angeles.
Another fitful, incomplete performance doesnt inspire a whole lot of faith in a hockey team thats been mediocre since the beginning of January. The Bruins offense has wasted way too many chances to pick up easy victories over the last two-plus months, and those missed chances will turn into regret if its the difference between the No. 2 seed and the No. 7 seed come playoff time.