For those that have tuned into the last four Boston Bruins games, you have certainly noticed a pattern in three of those. Something that usually doesn’t happen to the Bruins has suddenly snuck up and left them snake bitten. While this is most likely an overreaction that every Bruins fan is hoping for, the uneasy feeling these games have left in fans is a concern. While we hope every game ends in a win and two points going toward our season total. We especially hope we will win when we have the lead with 30 seconds left in the game or hopefully send the game to overtime to at a minimum gain one point if a tie looks like the only option after three periods. Not closing out a game in the final minutes is one thing, but in the last 30 seconds is certainly a red flag and has happened too often in such a short span.
Where it Began
The trouble started in Anaheim when the Bruins found themselves deadlocked, heading into the final minute, hoping to extend their five-game win streak and remain undefeated on their west coast road trip. The sad news is that didn’t happen thanks to one last effort by the Ducks that resulted in a Trevor Zegras goal with 22 seconds remaining. Context is vital here as it’s important to note that the Ducks were on the power play because of a Charlie McAvoy hooking call with 46 seconds remaining. Already being down a man is tough, but when that same player is your best defenseman, it makes things a little more complex and has consequences, which was a 4-3 loss.
And Another One
The next game where the Bruins seemed to have lost their control was when they returned to the east coast to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road. In comparison, this game didn’t sting as bad thanks to the Bruins’ ability to sneak out of Columbus with the win. It still left the fans uneasy knowing the Bruins were up 4-3, heading into the last 30 seconds before allowing a Jakub Voracek goal with only three seconds left. Once again, context is essential, especially when looking at this situation as the Blue Jackets were on the power play thanks to a Nick Foligno penalty with 31 seconds left. Still, the Blue Jackets went all in and pulled their goalie, giving them a six on four situation. While it’s easy to get upset that they surrendered a goal with three seconds to go, the circumstances make it clear as to why Columbus even had a chance in the first place to score. Even after giving up the late goal, the Bruins could regather thanks to intense overtime and shootout performance by Jeremy Swayman that saw him give up zero goals between the two before David Pastrnak but it to bed.
The One that Hurt the Most
Out of the three games, the Bruins had a meltdown in the final 30 seconds none stung more than last night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. After annihilating the Kings in their home rink a week ago to the tune of 7-0, there were high hopes the Bruins could repeat their success, this time in front of the Boston faithful during first responder night. The Bruins looked to be in control the whole game as they jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first, thanks to a deserving Trent Frederic, who is coming into his own this past week. The Bruins would score again in the second and bring a 2-1 lead into the third’s final minute when things went sideways once again. The Kings coach decided to pull his goalie in the last minute, hoping to catch Boston netminder Linus Ullmark sleeping as they went six on five controlling the puck and moving it around the outside, looking for the weak spot in the Bruins defense. That soft spot finally revealed itself when Trevor Moore hit pay dirt with 26 seconds marking the third time in four games the Bruins have allowed a goal in the last 30 seconds of a game when down a man or two. Unlike the Columbus game, the Bruins could not salvage the win as a sloppy pass from Charlie Coyle resulted in a breakaway for Andreas Athanasiou. He had no trouble snipping one past Ullmark and sending the Bruins home with heartbreak.
The Needed Change
The central theme of these three games, besides them giving up goals with 30 or fewer seconds left, is in these final minutes, they are playing undisciplined hockey and allowing teams the opportunities to stay in the game. The two games they lost cost them an extra two or three points in what is coming down to be a close race to the playoffs, where every point truly matters. The Bruins are better than what they have shown in these last three games, and if they can figure out how to fix these small bumps in the road, the Bruins will be just that more dominant.