EDMONTON – To the surprise of nobody, Claude Julien wasn’t all that impressed with his Bruins after they dropped the first game of the Western Canada road swing to the Edmonton Oilers. The Bruins started slowly and made a couple of crucial mistakes along the way, but also simply didn’t play hard enough hockey in a 3-2 shootout loss against an Edmonton team that shrinks from the rough stuff on most nights.
Instead the Bruins were trading chances in a high-paced game where the B’s and Oilers accounted for 76 total shots on net, and showed some urgency late in the third period that was missing for most of the contest.
“We didn’t have our best game. We need to be better,” said Zdeno Chara, who scored the game-tying goal in the third period that at least salvaged a point for the Black and Gold. “We certainly need to work much harder, and win more battles and races. We just weren’t doing that.”
It might have been a formula that won them a couple of games during their now dearly departed five game winning streak, but it wasn’t good enough against the Oil on Wednesday night.
“Very average…I think we were very average tonight,” said Claude Julien. “I think our skating game was there, but we didn’t play a real hard game tonight. That’s what we needed to go. We needed to skate and we needed to play hard against this team, and we chose instead to play a little more of their type of game.
“We were going up and down, and there were a lot of chances being made. But we were also trading them off, and that’s not the way that we play. I thought when we tied the game at 2-2 in the last five minutes we all of a sudden started playing our game. Had we played that game the whole way then we probably would have a better result.”
In other words, the coach thought his Bruins players busted out a pretty soft brand of hockey against an Oilers team that was more than happy to play that style en route to a hockey game that unquestionably deserved a shootout to finally end things. That was much different than the high point win over the New York Rangers in the Black Friday matinee, but much closer to the mediocre hockey produced by this group of Bruins when not inspired to reach a higher level of play.