A few lingering thoughts and swept-up ice shavings from Monday night while the Bruins, enjoying a day of rest, hope they can force a Game 7 against the Islanders back on Causeway Street on Friday night:
The 5-4 loss in Game 5 closed with one of the irate TD Garden faithful, among the more agile in the raucous crowd, repeatedly jumping up and clinging to the top of the glass, screaming, and flashing a middle finger at the officials as they sought safe harbor along the boards.
For sheer athleticism, the Causeway jumping bean was worthy of being featured on the iconic intro clip to “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” (voiceover here: “ . . . and the agony of defeat”).
OK, hate the refs, but love the passion and all that.
Reminder: Heaving junk at the guys in stripes, no matter what you think of their work, is equal parts dangerous, classless, and stupid. Save that crap for your league night with pals down at “Pinhead Lanes.”
Look, folks, time has taught us that hissing and moaning about the officials is as useless as angsting over the Bruins not selecting Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Sebastian Aho with picks Nos. 13, 14, and 15 in the 2015 draft. For the record, none of the three Boston picks from ’15 were in uniform for Game 5.
Yeah, we love to complain, would love even more a big fat do-over for Game 5 and the 2015 draft . . . but we’ll see that when pigs and Duck Boats fly.
The carping and kvetching about calls and non-calls changes nothing. Worse, it sets an unhealthy, unproductive, even defeatist tone of “woe is us.”
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy learned the cost of complaining about it all Tuesday morning when the league slapped him with a $25,000 fine for his postgame comments about the officials.
Equally damning, all the yelling acts as a dodge for a key fact made all the more poignant Monday: The Islanders are proving to be far more proficient at converting primo scoring chances, albeit some of them gift-wrapped in Black and Gold, and not just by virtue of the, shall we say, curious, inconsistent nature of the officiating.
Bad calls by the refs aren’t preventing the Bruins from scoring on great chances. That finger is better pointed at themselves. Finish at the net is as much a skill as skating, shooting, checking, and the invisible quotient of hockey IQ. They’ve too often suffered from their own dumb hands.
Lost in the huff and shuffle Monday night was the fact that the Bruins failed to cash in some delicious (chef’s kiss here) scoring chances that could have had them up by two or three goals by the end of 20:00.
Often, the error or neglect in this kind of observation is failing to give enough credit to the goalie (old Harry Sinden line: “Ya know, the goalie’s part of your team, too, and stopping pucks is why he’s there”).
Some of the Bruins’ best chances failed to go in not because Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped them, be it with a simple save or a Tim Thomas dazzler. Nope. The Bruins simply didn’t goose them over the goal line after all the effort to get the puck there. Unfinished work on par with Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia (come for the hockey, my friends, and stay for the tourism tips).
Exhibit A: Brad Marchand’s doorstep bunny near the right post, with David Pastrnak alongside, at about 3:50 of the first period, the Bruins already with Pastrnak’s 1-0 blazer on the scoresheet.
Marchand deftly collected a loose puck off of a Charlie McAvoy attempt from up high, pulled it from backhand to forehand, and slid it on a string right by Varlamov and . . . right through . . . the other side of the crease.
The Garden’s groan was guttural. Instead of 2-0 with less than four minutes gone, the one-goal lead stood, until the clever Barzal potted the first of New York’s three power-play goals.
The Islanders made a night, and perhaps a series, of knocking home their primo and less-than-primo chances, leading in part to Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy summoning rookie tender Jeremy Swayman to relieve Tuukka Rask to start the third period.
Amid the flurry of three PP strikes, Josh Bailey fired home the 2-2 tiebreaker at 14:30 of the second, the Islanders forward allowed enough space at even strength first to consider skipping down the street to City Hall and filing a building permit. With revisions. A few loud ticks of the clock later, Bailey opted to snap the doorstep attempt by a defenseless Rask.
If you’ll allow me to summon my poor man’s John Peirson: “Not good coverage there, Fred.”
Defensemen Jeremy Lauzon and Mike Reilly were there to bear witness. Which is all they did. Reilly, who failed to cut off the pass to Bailey from the left circle, looked especially Landon of the Lost in space.
Maybe it’s time for the Bruins, their fans, and the rest of hockey’s Sagrada Familia, including the Causeway jumping bean, to credit the Islanders for their persistence, tenacity, and finish. They are a dogged bunch, a mirror image of their general manager (Lou Lamoriello) and their coach (Barry Trotz), and a tribute to a team playing beyond the sum of its parts.
To that latter point, we’ve seen the same thus far from the Canadiens, who’ve now polished off the Maple Leafs (seven games) and Jets (sweep) on their improbable, dumbfounding run to the Cup semis.
Warms the heart, doesn’t it, Bruins fans, finally to see that hard-luck Habs franchise get a break here and there?