What we learned from Bruins 6-4 loss to Blackhawks
1) The Bruins are a hurting defense unit
The Bruins are a hurting defense unit without Kevan Miller and Dennis Seidenberg. Both veteran defensive warriors were missing for the majority of Friday night’s win over the Blues, and then were completely out for Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Blackhawks. All the Bruins defense did was give up 11 goals to the Blues and the Blackhawks, and make a ton of mistakes with turnovers, lost puck battles and inexperienced players simply making the wrong decision at the wrong time. Joe Morrow is in the lineup because both Miller and Seidenberg are out currently, and he was making wide-eyed rookie mistakes in a must-win game against Chicago. The best the Bruins can hope for is that Miller makes a speedy recovery from his lower body injury, and that Seidenberg does the same after resuming his skating activity on his own back in Boston on Sunday morning. People like to place a lot of blame on Miller and Seidenberg, but those are two of the toughest, strongest and most competitive defenders that are always willing to sacrifice their bodies to make a play. Their true value to the Bruins is made obvious when the team struggles defensively with those players out of the lineup.
2) Bruins control their own destiny
If the Bruins win their next three games in regulation or overtime, they are into the playoffs with their ticket punched. So what we learned is that the Black and Gold still very much control their own destiny despite getting slapped around in the Windy City, and have three games nicely spaced out on home nice at TD Garden to get it done. Sports Club Stats has the Bruins at a 62.1 percent chance of getting into the playoffs, and has a chance to max out at 96 points on the season. The Bruins didn’t make the playoffs last spring after posting 96 points for the season, and there’s still a fair chance the B’s miss the postseason with 96 points if they lose some shootout games and the Wings take the B’s to overtime before eventually succumbing to the Black and Gold on April 7. The Bruins have twice this season won three straight games on home ice, and they’ll get in if Boston can beat the Hurricanes, Red Wings and Senators in regulation or OT on home ice.
3) It looked like the Bruins weren’t ready to play
Claude Julien said after the game that the Bruins didn’t bring their brains with them to play the Blackhawks, but it just looked like the B’s weren’t ready to play in the early matinee in Chicago. The Bruins fell behind by a couple of goals early in the game, had the Blackhawks sting them when they had a couple of sloppy line changes in the first two periods, and took a too many men on the ice penalty as they were trying to stage a futile comeback. There was also the fact that Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin were out on the ice for a series of four goals where the duo torched the Bruins defense, and took full advantage of the mismatches that Joel Quenneville went looking for with his two prolific, high-powered forwards out on the ice together. While there’s no doubting that the players take the brunt of the blame after losses like in the season’s final weeks, the Bruins coaching staff didn’t have the team ready to play at puck drop. That’s inexcusable for a team fighting for their playoff lives with the Red Wings now one point ahead of them.
* Three goals and four points for Patrick Kane, who passed the century mark in points for the season while routinely torching the Bruins defenders with his speed, skill and shiftiness while highly motivated through the first couple of periods. Kane finished with a plus-3 rating and six shot attempts in his 21 plus minutes of ice time, and was markedly better than the guy with the same name that no-showed in his only regular season appearance in Boston this year.
* Patrice Bergeron with a goal and three points along with a plus-2 rating in 18:49 of ice time with seven shots on net, and won 13-of-24 faceoff while playing his genuinely solid all-around game for the Bruins. Bergeron had nothing to hang his head about, and was only on the ice for one goal against on a day the Bruins allowed six goals.
* Artemi Panarin finished with a goal and four points along with a plus-3 rating, and had six shot attempts in 18:30 of ice time. Perhaps more importantly Panarin and Patrick Kane clicked to the tune of four goals combined in Sunday afternoon’s butt-kicking of the Bruins.
* Joe Morrow had a terrible turnover at the offensive blue line on a lazy D-to-D pass that turned into a Patrick Kane breakaway goal that made it a 2-0 game. Morrow was a minus-2 rating in 13:08 of ice time, and had one shot on net while really struggling to match the intensity of his opponents out on the ice in a must win game.
* John-Michael Liles was a minus-2 rating in 20:36 of ice time, and didn’t have the same kind of confident zip with the puck in Chicago after being in the middle of numerous scoring plays Friday in the win over the Blues. It was a whole different, much faster game featuring the Blackhawks, and Liles was mostly invisible on Sunday after being brought in to be a difference-maker at the deadline.
* Teuvo Teravainen was a non-factor with a single shot on net in 15:11 of ice time to go along with taking a minor penalty served against the Bruins, and was one of the few Chicago forwards that didn’t really show up for work on Sunday.