Only a week ago, many of us were wondering when this Bruins team was going to face a little adversity, and how they will react to it.
Well, now they have a small dose of it. A teaspoonful, if you will.
Not only are the 21-4-1 B’s coming off their most frustrating and avoidable regulation loss of the season in Arizona, the B’s will have to beat the best team in the Western Conference in the Vegas Golden Knights if they are to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time this season.
There’s also an outside chance they’ll have to do that without David Krejci, who missed time in Friday’s game after blocking a shot in the first period, though he finished the game. He did not practice on Saturday in Vegas and coach Jim Montgomery said he’s somewhat questionable for Sunday.
Montgomery said he could sense his players’ motivation in Saturday’s practice.
“It’s a little bit of a thing for us that we don’t want to lose two in a row. (Friday) night we lost a game, so (Sunday) is important to us,” Montgomery told reporters in Vegas.
First, they’ll have to leave Friday’s debacle in the desert behind them.
The Bruins should have at least gotten a point and, yes, they can blame some of that on the blown call at the end when it appears when the linesman inexplicably waived off an icing call. As confusion and disbelief reigned on the part of the Bruins, the Coyotes’ Matias Maccelli kept on skating and pounced on the loose puck that Derek Forbort overskated, feeding Lawson Crouse for the game winner with 13.5 seconds left. According to the league, the linesman judged that Forbort could have reached the puck, so you can make of that what you will.
One could argue that Swayman should not have left it up to such a close judgment call for the linesman and, to be safer, played the puck with such little time left with at least a point seemingly in the bag. But the B’s did in fact get jobbed.
Now they’ve got to park it.
“The linesman has a judgment call to make and the only thing we wish wouldn’t have been different is that the judgment had been made at the dot and not when it crossed the goal line, because it makes it hard on (Swayman and Forbort) to make a clean play because they’re thinking it’s icing,” said Montgomery, who’ll go with Linus Ullmark in net on Sunday. “But the big thing is, everyone makes mistakes. I make so many mistakes during the game. We all make mistakes. It’s about overcoming mistakes and getting better.”
Now moving forward, Vegas will be a challenge. When the Golden Knights came into the Garden, they did something few teams have been able to do this year. They made the Bruins look bad — at least for the first 32 minutes or so. The B’s staged a furious comeback and got it to extra time before losing in a shootout.
Much like Karel Vejmelka was for the Coyotes on Friday, Vegas goalie Logan Thompson was chiefly responsible for the Knights coming away with two points. But early on in the game, the Knights did a good job of exploiting the B’s tendency to break the puck out through the middle of the ice, amassing a 3-0 lead thanks to a couple of turnovers.
“Boston’s activating their D a lot, we know about that, (Hampus) Lindholm specifically. (Connor Clifton) more active this year. So I thought at times we did a good job cutting those plays off and transitioning well from it and other times they manufactured offense,” said Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy after the 4-3 Vegas win last week at the Garden.
And this time, the B’s will have to face the Knights with their best forward, Jack Eichel, in the lineup, though Vegas will be without top defensemen Shea Theodore (lower body) and Alex Pietrangelo (personal). Eichel missed the first game in Boston because of an upper body injury. With good health and in a new environment, Eichel has been thriving.
The North Chelmsford native leads the Knights with 13-16-29 totals and a plus-17 rating. Perhaps more importantly, Eichel’s commitment to two-way play had Cassidy raving last week.
If the Bruins were looking for a good test, they’ll have one on Sunday.