Some games will always stay with us. Sadly, tonight's game against the Saint Louis Blues may be one of them. The Bruins finally came out and played their game, and played it well. The first period was textbook Bruins hockey. They skated hard, hit hard, made good decisions, and dominated in a way I cannot recall this season. It seemed so natural. Everything seemed back to normal and all was good. It looked right. Even Bartkowski seemed to be having a career night. In the interview after the period Marchand seemed relaxed and confident like I had not seen him in months.
Then came the inevitable collapse in the second right? No! In fact there was no collapse. We have come to expect the second period to be where the Bruins don't show up, but that's not what happened. Despite giving up three goals the Bruins played very well. In a minor tragedy, Malcolm Subban, the promising 21-year-old goaltender playing in his first NHL game, turned out not to be ready to play in the NHL. In quick succession he let in three soft goals, each softer than the next. Somewhere in there Davd Krejci decided to make a big open ice hit, with the result that he went down the tunnel and did not return. With Rask back, a questionable penalty led to a good bounce and a power play goal. Just like that it was 4-1 Saint Louis.
This was a hole the Bruins could not climb out of--not against a good team like the Blues. It's tempting to say that they didn't deserve to lose; after all they were playing so well. It was simple bad luck. Maybe that would have played in December, but not this late in the season, and not after so many poorly played games. The Bruins deserved this loss not because of the way they played tonight, but because of the way they have played all year.
In the end, this game may be seen as a turning point. With the trade deadline right around the corner Chiarelli has to make a decision, and the outcome of this game may have sealed the deal.
As an aside, last time I wrote that the Bruins appeared to be changing their game, and I'm not quite ready to give up on that yet. They really did seem to be playing differently, and it makes me wonder. Is it possible that they adjusted their playing style in an attempt to play a quicker game against those Western Conference teams? Coach Julien often changes up his lines only to go back to the way they were before, and somehow the team plays better when the lines are restored. I wonder if what we saw was something like that, only with the way the players were told to play. It's either that, or they had lost their way to the point where they were no longer willing to go into the corners and hit. I'm finding the latter to be difficult to swallow.