Bruins out of alignment
Offense is a bit crossed up in loss to Penguins
Even though Michael Ryder is playing out of position because of Milan Lucic’s unavailability to the Bruins, the natural right wing who’s been filling in on the left side was the most dangerous sharpshooter on the TD Garden ice yesterday.
Thirteen ticks after Dennis Seidenberg’s goal in the second period, Ryder snapped the puck past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for the tying goal. In total, Ryder landed a game-high seven pucks on goal, had two other attempts blocked, and missed with two more shots.
If only the Bruins had gotten more performances like Ryder’s, they wouldn’t have been on the wrong end of a 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
Ryder, Nathan Horton, and Marc Savard combined for 17 of the Bruins’ 46 shots. The fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton, on the ice for Seidenberg’s strike, put six pucks on goal and had a consistent forecheck buzzing against the Penguins.
But the second and third lines, anchored by Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, had little offense to contribute. With just a bit more pushback from those forwards, the Bruins could have beaten Pittsburgh for the second time in a week.
“I thought Savvy’s line, they had 17 shots and created a lot of chances,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “Bergy’s line has been a good line for us. I don’t think they hurt us, but they didn’t get much offensively done.
“Campbell’s line was very good. I thought the line that struggled a lot was Krejci’s line. They really had a tough time. Those guys that are on that line are guys that can produce for us. We could have used them.’’
In Monday’s 4-2 comeback win over Pittsburgh, Tuesday’s 6-0 walloping of Ottawa, and Thursday’s 7-5 win over Philadelphia, every line had its legs whirring and creating scoring chances. So for the second and third lines to submit so-so performances was a departure.
No coach can expect four-line clinics every game. But if there has been one underlying concern this season, it’s been the inconsistency of the Bruins’ attack. In some games, they have just one line clicking. On other nights, another threesome has its touch.
Entering yesterday’s game, no line was hotter than the No. 2 trio of Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Bergeron had six goals and four assists in the last five games, including a hat trick against the Senators. On Thursday against the Flyers, both Marchand and Recchi netted third-period goals. Yesterday, Bergeron and Recchi put only one puck on net. Marchand had none.
Each of the third-line forwards recorded two shots. But Krejci, Blake Wheeler, and Tyler Seguin had little presence in the offensive zone.
“If he can get his feet moving, the rest of his game is certainly going to follow,’’ Julien said of Krejci. “He’s shown those spurts at times.
“He seems to be inconsistent right now. It’s not from lack of trying. In his mind, I think he really wants to do well. Sometimes players have to grind it out and find ways to get their game again.
“I think that’s what David needs to do and is trying to do right now. We haven’t seem him at his best. When he is, he’s one of the better players.’’
The Bruins had no such complaints about their other players. After Chris Kunitz scored at 10:57 of the first and Pascal Dupuis made it a 2-0 at 0:41 of the second, the fourth line’s blue-collar work led to Boston’s first goal.
Following some cycling by his linemates, Thornton whipped a puck toward the net. The puck glanced off traffic and found its way to Seidenberg’s stick. As Seidenberg wound up, Paille planted himself in front of Fleury. The netminder never got a bead on Seidenberg’s shot, which found the back of the net at 11:28 of the second.
“We wanted to play with energy,’’ said Campbell. “Our line is good at that. Getting it deep, creating a good cycle, protecting the puck, and creating chances just with hard work.
“[Paille] made a good screen there. You can credit the goal largely to him. It was a great shot but Fleury didn’t see it.’’
Fleury didn’t get much of a look on Ryder’s goal, either. After taking a backhand pass from Savard, Ryder hustled down the left wing and went one-on-one with Zbynek Michalek. Ryder, using Michalek as a screen, catapulted the puck through the defenseman’s legs and past Fleury at 11:41 to tie the game at 2-2.
“We’ve used him there a few times because he seems to shoot the puck well from his off wing,’’ Julien said. “Right now, with [Ryder and Savard], I’ve seen a pretty good line. He seems to have adapted well.’’
At 3:25 of the third, Jordan Staal gave the Penguins the 3-2 lead when he popped in a Matt Cooke backhand feed that deflected off Adam McQuaid.
In the final minute, with Tuukka Rask off for an extra attacker, Seidenberg ripped off a pair of short-range shots. Fleury stopped one, then the other, then covered the puck with 40.6 seconds remaining. During the following six-on-five rush, Fleury booted out a Zdeno Chara slap shot.
“I thought we had really good chances,’’ Chara said. “A few times we got the puck through to Fleury, and it was so close. We just needed that little bounce.
“But it’s tough. If you’re always in the position where you always have to come chasing and trying to get that even goal or winning goal, it’s tough to do it every night.’’