Something about the Leafs…
…that makes the Bruins crumble. How? Why? Perhaps it’s not worth asking questions. The Bruins could have clinched the Northeast division last night, alas, they did not. The problem? The Toronto Maple Leafs stood in the way. All the baggage of the Kessel for a first rounder—>Seguin deal still seems to loom over games between the two teams. That and the natural fact they are division rivals. The Bruins managed two wins this season against the Leafs, with the other four contests going Toronto’s way (with some shootout wins, to be fair).
It wasn’t a brutal loss by any means. Losing 4-3 in a shootout isn’t inherently a red flag for the Bruins—I’m willing to give them a mulligan here. They haven’t exactly excelled in the shootout all year long. But Thomas was in net, and the team had found its groove as of late.
A lack of discipline seems to be part of the problem.
Call it “rookie mistakes,” but they’re becoming prolific among Marchand and Kampfer in particular. Sloppy hooking penalties by Kampfer abound, golf-club swings and chirping by Marchand, the list goes on. They’re not undisciplined players themselves, Kampfer is clearly a blossoming puck-mover and I am a huge fan, and Marchand, notching his 21st goal last night, has proven himself to be far more than a fourth-liner. Kampfer only has 12 PIM through 38 games played, and Marchand with 40 through 72 games. Nevertheless, for this team, at this time, these sorts of penalties and actions can’t be tolerated. It’s not so much the penalties as when they occur—at crucial junctures. Even if the opposing squad doesn’t score on the power-play, the necessary energy exerted on the penalty kill by the Bruins is enough to set them back. It’s abundantly clear that both players are trying so desperately to prove their value and not allow goals to be scored by the other team while they’re on the ice. But, it’s time to rein them in, if only slightly.
The remainder of the Bruins’ season, with five games left, includes teams that are nearly if not already out of the playoff picture. The Thrashers, Islanders, Senators and Devils all have dates with the Bruins, along with the Rangers at MSG on April 4th. The match with the Rangers will be an interesting one, but, then again, Henril Lundqvist may also be up to his usual feats of goaltending still. We shall see.