Harris: Valuable points lost to Henrik Lundqvist’s performance

March 3, 2017 GMT

Things have been going so well for the Bruins the last few weeks, it’s easy to forget the flawed play that wasted so many points in the early months of the season.

Last night, the B’s reminded us.

Far too many times earlier in the campaign the B’s played quite well and generated lots of Grade A scoring chances — especially early in games — but failed to take advantage, and went on to lose games they could have and should have won.

Had just three or four of those contests gone slightly differently, and produced a half-dozen or so points, the B’s would find themselves in a much less precarious situation as we head down the home stretch of the regular season.

The Bruins’ situation got somewhat more precarious at the Garden last night with another outcome that could easily have been different: The B’s generated a wide advantage in quality scoring chances, including a handful in the first half of the opening period, but failed to cash in and went on to drop a 2-1 decision to the New York Rangers.


In talking about pucks that did not enter the enemy net, it was less about the Bruins shooters and almost all about veteran Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist — who should have been the first, second and third star in this one, as he turned aside 32-of-33 home team shots.

“I thought we outplayed them and maybe deserved a better fate,” said B’s defenseman Colin Miller. “(Lundqvist) is a world-class goalie. He’s going to make saves. He made a lot of them. I think we’ve got to bear down more on our chances, but (he) was the difference, that’s for sure.”

Just in the first several shifts of the night, David Pastrnak, Zdeno Chara, Miller and David Krejci all had golden opportunities to open the scoring. The B’s jumped out to a 6-0 edge in shots.

“They had nothing,” said B’s goalie Tuukka Rask. “And we had really good chances.”

Still, the Bruins knew they could have done more to produce more than the single tap-in goal scored by Brad Marchand — off a tremendous effort by a diving Pastrnak to get the puck to the net-front.

“We were getting some zone time and some shots, but maybe not from the inside and not second looks and whatnot,” Patrice Bergeron said. “They were doing a good job of boxing us out, but at the same time you have to work harder to get there — especially when you’re playing a goalie like him.

“I think the effort was there. (But) offensively we’ve got to create a little bit more around the net to make it a little harder for their defense and also the goalie to battle and fight for the puck.

“It was a good effort. But at the same time, points are at a premium right now, and we can’t afford (this loss).”


The B’s were frustrated by their lack of finish all night — and by the officiating call that more or less ended any hopes for late drama. With 2:22 left, David Backes, skating in front of the New York net, tried hard to jump past Lundqvist and avoid any contact. But the goalie reached out with his left arm to instigate the collision — and then sold it like a scene in “Slap Shot.”

In this era of fake news, it was a fake penalty, but it got the job done, sending Backes to the box for goalie interference.

“That was pretty frustrating,” Marchand said. “Obviously you want to protect your goalies. But goalies nowadays, they know they can’t be touched, (so) they flop around and interfere with guys, knowing that they’re going to get the calls for them.

“(Lundqvist) tries to get in front of Backs and we get the penalty. You’re down 2-1 with a couple of minutes left; that’s pretty frustrating.”

So now the Bruins have hit one of the first bumps in the road of the Bruce Cassidy era. They can’t afford many more.

“You have to bounce back right away,” Bergeron said. “We’re playing (New) Jersey and it was a tough game for us the last time in their building (a 3-0 loss in early-January). We have to make sure we’re ready for (the Devils tomorrow) and get right back at it. We have been doing so many great things lately. We have to go right back to that and move forward.”