This was like going into a business meeting and insulting the client and still getting the account or dropping a cringe-worthy pick-up line on the prettiest girl at a bar and still getting her phone number.
The blessed and naturally gifted among us succeed in spite of themselves sometimes and that was the case for the Bruins Tuesday night against the Rangers at TD Garden.
The Bruins didn’t deserve success on cumulative merit but they did just enough to sample it anyway. Boston salvaged a point from an eminently mediocre night of hockey with a 4-3 shootout loss.
Based on the way the Bruins played for the first 58½ minutes the loss felt like a win. It was also affirmation of the current state of the Bruins as the most championship-ready team in town, our next best hope to get the Duck Boats rolling. This is what good teams — championship teams — do. They find a way to win, or in this case procure a point, when they’re not at their best.
Bad teams find a way to fail. Good teams summon success like they’re ordering room service. Nights like Tuesday make you believe we could be in for another Year of the Bear.
“They just believe they can do it right now. That is a good sign,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “I think it certainly saved us from having a regulation loss tonight, just from that attitude. Although we weren’t perfect, and I didn’t think we were at our best, we still found a way to gain a point in a situation where it looked pretty grim halfway through the third.”
That it did. The Bruins had been lifeless and listless most of the night, making mental miscues and physical faux pas to dig themselves a 3-0 hole early in the third period, after Tuukka Rask allowed a soft-serve wrister from Anton Stralman to trickle through his legs.
They trailed, 3-0, until the 8:44 mark when David Krejci got them on the board.
Still, both the night and the game looked lost for the Bruins with under two minutes to play and a 3-1 deficit against one of the NHL’s best goalies, Henrik Lundqvist, and a team that basically swallows vulcanized rubber it blocks so many shots.
But the Bruins roared to life with a pair of 6-on-5 goals less than a minute apart in the final 1:31 to send the game to overtime and eventually a shootout.
Nathan Horton cut the deficit to 3-2 cleaning up the garbage in front and putting a loose puck past Lundqvist at 18:29. Then mighty-mite Brad Marchand, one of the few Bruins who had shown alacrity before the final sequence, knotted the proceedings and sent the Spoked-Believers into a frenzy with 42.3 seconds to play.
Marchand fed Patrice Bergeron in the slot and Bergeron’s shot was blocked and ricochetted back to Marchand, who beat Lundqvist short-side — fitting for the Little Big Man — for his team-leading seventh goal of the year.
The Bruins knew they got away with one against the Broadway Blueshirts, and in this pocket-sized season every point counts.
“Well, we definitely did a great job of getting ourselves out of a hole,” said Marchand. “I think there are a few things we need to clean up from that game. We’re definitely happy that we got that point, but we got to play better than that.”
One area to start would be the fetid and feckless power play. It went 0-fer again, and is now 4 for 43 on the season. Krejci’s goal, a sweeping backhand off a rebound of a Milan Lucic redirection, came just a second after Boston’s power play expired.
That’s just the way things are going on the man advantage for the Bruins.
But what else is new?
Nobody should be happier about the NHL averting another nuclear winter than Bruins fans. This team has a chance to lift Lord Stanley’s hallowed hardware again.
They have the goaltending, the scoring, a freshman phenom of a defenseman in Dougie Hamilton, and championship mettle from their championship metal of 2011.
It’s telling how much the standards have changed for the Bruins post-Stanley Cup title in 2011 that despite entering Tuesday night’s game at 8-1-1, the best 10-game start in franchise history, much of the focus was on how they need to improve.
Both Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli talked before puck drop about how the Bruins could light the lamp with more efficiency and consistency.
After the game Julien said he felt this was a night when his team’s compete level was not at full. It felt like it was null in the first two periods.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead at 10:37 of the first period. Rick Nash made a nifty backhanded pass while prone to a wide-open Carl Hagelin, who had a lot of net acreage in front of him and capitalized.
The Rangers extended their lead to 2-0 at 8:17 of the second period after a neutral zone miscue from Lucic. The burly forward’s cross-ice pass was behind Hamilton, who couldn’t control it.
The puck ended up on the stick of Derek Stepan, who skated into the Boston zone and ripped a shot that beat Rask.
“I felt those first two goals were poor execution on our part . . . We kind of dug ourselves a hole of our own doing,” said Julien.
But like the rest of the city after our bout with wintry weather, the Bruins dug themselves out when they had to.
“I think it showed what we’ve got in this team in the third period,” said Krejci.
What they’ve got is a team that should be playing hockey when snow storms are a distant memory.