Nothing doing for Bruins again
Wings deal them another shutout
DETROIT - Halfway into last night’s first period, Marco Sturm had two point-blank chances to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. The left wing, reunited with Patrice Bergeron for the first time this season, took a pass from his center, slashed into the crease, and dumped a backhander on goal. Plink went the puck off Detroit goalie Chris Osgood’s mask.
Sturm recovered the rebound and shoveled another backhander on goal. Plunk went the puck off Osgood’s glove.
Just that kind of night for the toothless Bruins.
“We hit some posts and missed some great opportunities tonight,’’ said coach Claude Julien after the Bruins’ 2-0 loss, the second straight time his team has been blanked. “Somehow you’re going to have to make it happen if you want to turn this thing around. Simple as that. It’s up to us to decide how tired we are of losing games that we hear we’re playing OK in and do something about it.’’
Hard work got Sturm to the edge of the crease on his two-whack flurry. Good effort by Blake Wheeler set up Michael Ryder for a cannon of a one-timer in the second period. Nonstop legs by Shawn Thornton got the lunchpail winger a wraparound attempt on Osgood in the sec ond.
But for the Bruins, that last stage - turning a scoring chance into a goal - is proving elusive. They charge into the dirty areas. They get their looks on goal. But when it comes time to putting pucks over the goal line, they look around and see a roster of players that, right now, simply can’t finish to save their lives.
It doesn’t help that the power play, without the sublime quarterbacking skills of Marc Savard on the right-side half-wall, is lifeless. Julien introduced major changes, pairing Derek Morris and Dennis Wideman as point men on the first unit, with Bergeron, David Krejci, and Mark Recchi down low. For the second unit, Julien rolled out Matt Hunwick for the first time this season, putting him with Zdeno Chara on the point, then throwing out Wheeler, Brad Marchand, and Vladimir Sobotka down low.
The end result: two shots during six minutes of power-play time.
“We’ve got guys who’ve scored goals in bunches in this league,’’ said Wheeler, who skated with old linemates Ryder and Krejci for the first time since Oct. 12. “It’s more of a when it rains, it pours type of thing.
“For us right now, we’re in a pretty dry spell. There’s no need to panic. Our game is really good everywhere except for the reward part.’’
But that’s the rub, isn’t it? Scoring more goals than the other team? Yes, the Bruins are without Savard and Milan Lucic, and if you throw in that guy named Phil Kessel (10 shots in his Toronto debut last night), that’s the entire No. 1 line from last season.
But the Wings didn’t have Johan Franzen (knee), one of the game’s best power forwards. They were without two-way center Valtteri Filppula (wrist). Flu-like symptoms sidelined Brian Rafalski, one of the NHL’s premier puck-moving defensemen, and third-pairing blue liner Jonathan
“They’re not an easy team to play against,’’ Julien said. “They have three across the line. We’ve got to chip it past them.
“They’re actually a pretty skilled team, good at anticipating and cutting those passes off. It’s not an easy team to play against.
“For the most part, I think we handled it OK. But the end result is certainly not something we’re satisfied with, because we’ve got to start winning some hockey games.’’
At 14:19 of the first, Sturm was nabbed for hooking in the offensive zone. Two seconds later, after Pavel Datsyuk won the faceoff against Bergeron, Henrik Zetterberg slipped around Marchand and roofed a shot over Thomas’s blocker, giving the Wings a 1-0 lead.
The Wings doubled their lead after Todd Bertuzzi sprung Datsyuk in the neutral zone. Datsyuk slipped behind Chara and careened toward the goal, pulling Thomas out of the crease. After Thomas had committed, Datsyuk flung a blind pass to Tomas Holmstrom, the trailer on the play. Holmstrom muscled off Bergeron’s backcheck and slammed home his team-leading eighth goal at 17:43 of the first.
“I just went with him, and he did what Datsyuk does,’’ said Thomas (24 saves). “If I don’t take him, he probably puts it in an open net. Then if you do take him, he makes a pass like that.’’
After that, the closest a puck came to beating Osgood was in the second. Wheeler won a puck in the neutral zone, took it wide on Osgood, and saw Ryder in the slot, stick positioned high for a one-timer. Ryder took Wheeler’s dish and brought the hammer down, only to see the puck blast off the left post.
“Perfect example. You can’t hit a puck better than that,’’ said Wheeler. “Nobody in the league can hit that puck any better or put it in a better spot. Off the post and out.’’