Boston Bruins Stuck In the Phone Booth Again

Boston Bruins Stuck In the Phone Booth Again
Chris Wassel

The Boston Bruins still have problems facing Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals. This is not a surprise but the problem seems more amplified now than in the past few years even. Yes, we all know Boston is on the other side of the mountain so to speak when it comes to contending for the Stanley Cup. However, there were still some expectations coming into the year.

The Bruins had a chance on Sunday night to start making real strides in nabbing down something other than the second wildcard. That not only did not happen but the same doubts began to creep in once again as they gradually lost discipline and their way in the loss to Washington, in Washington again.


The Boston Bomb

These patterns emerge that cannot be denied. A team plays with fire and know they could get burned. They need to do things to fix the problems. Nothing gets done and adverse result is achieved. Therefore that goose egg against Washington occurred again.

The numbers come out and Washington tends to have a style that infuriates the Bruins. Holtby, in particular is 6-2 in his last eight decisions against Boston with a 1.86 GAA and .948 save percentage.

Yet fundamentally (and maybe this is because of lack of depth) Boston almost tries to play Washington the same predictable way every time. If something fails a few times, wouldn’t you change it Claude Julien? There are big problems and a few huge slumps but could anything be done? It’s an excellent question.

The Bruins do get their chances, but when you get right down to it, if you stop their top-six, you stop them cold. This is pretty cut and dry and there is little wiggle room. This is a team that needs to ride the PDO wave and that is something they did not have to do in previous years. When scoring thins out, this is what can happen. Little was done and little could be done. Now all Boston can do is hope for something to change.


Shots Per Goal

This is a little different so bear with me but Boston has had 30 or more shots on goal in every game but one this month (seven games). So 218 shots divided by 7 is 31.14 shots per game. Their shots for per 60 is a hair less than 30 but that is splitting hairs a bit here. Boston has scored three goals a game, not including the shootouts. They are 5-1-1, but that has been due to lots of help and some luck. Hey, that is the name of the game sometimes.

Now take the 218 divided by 19. It takes approximately 11.45 shots per game for Boston to score one goal. This means they are a pretty high volume shooting team and when all things average out, they are susceptible like any other team to bouts of bad puck luck.

However, the Bruins lack of depth gets magnified in games where they face playoff caliber opposition. Generally if a team is between 10 and 12 but average near three goals per game, that is not bad.

The shots per goal elevates a bit in their last seven to 13.25 (159 shots and 12 goals scored) when talking about playing against playoff teams. That is expected and a little higher is not necessarily a bad thing but the shot selection against Washington last night was scattered at best. There were periods of obvious shot aggression and then periods where Boston suppressed itself figuratively and literally.

The closer that number starts creeping up to 14 or 15 without the goals and that is when worry should creep in. For example, the Rangers have been near that number for about the last 2-3 weeks and it has not bit them yet but one wonders when it will. Play with enough fire and you are about to get torched.

Boston has some tough games the rest of this month including a trip to Ottawa and Tampa Bay. Ottawa may be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, teams in the league. Andrew Hammond is playing like Tuukka Rask incarnate. They have the same problems when playing Tampa Bay as well.

They can fire tons of shots on net but they seem to feel like they are firing into the wrong end of a phone booth. Nothing is being received and too much is being rejected. If that continues, Boston might still have enough to make the playoffs but their stay will be a short one.

Chris Wassel

Never stop learning! That has always been my philosophy in life. It applies to hockey writing so well as new challenges are something to strive for. I have been a fantasy hockey writer way back when it wasn’t quite so cool, covered the Devils for a variety of places and still do, have a small hockey site of my own, and even write about all things NHL, AHL, ECHL, KHL, etc. Usually I am first asked who I don’t write for. For Today’s Slapshot, I will be covering the Atlantic Division.

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