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Bruins shouldn’t have even been in shootout vs. Flames

Too many missed opportunities meant Tuukka Rask and the Bruins left TD Garden with only one point.JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF/Globe Staff

Claude Julien used a pedestrian but accurate word to describe his feelings toward the shootout. It also applied to his players’ performance in the regular-season comedy show that decides what 65 minutes of real hockey cannot.

The Bruins stink, to paraphrase their coach, in the shootout, which also stinks. They lost to the Flames in the clown contest on Thursday, 4-3. Their first six shooters shot blanks against Karri Ramo. Ryan Spooner and Torey Krug, their first two gunners, lost the puck off their blades.

The Flames who scored on Tuukka Rask were David Schlemko, a waivers claim, and Josh Jooris, an unsigned free agent. Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Jiri Hudler, the owners of Calgary’s softest hands, did not score. This is proof that the shootout has little to do with skill.


The Bruins fell to 2-7 in shootouts this season. They cannot wait to get to the playoffs, where the shootout does not exist.

Thursday’s game, however, emphasized that a postseason appearance is no guarantee. The Bruins remain just two points ahead of Florida, which also dropped a 4-3 decision in a shootout on Thursday.

The Bruins should have never gotten to the shootout. Calgary usually treats the first period as a throat-clearing exercise. Entering the night, the Flames had been outscored in the opening 20 minutes, 54-34. Thursday was no different.

The Bruins chewed up the ice in the Calgary zone. They snapped 31 pucks toward the Calgary net while limiting the Flames to 14 attempts. The Bruins dominated play. The Flames rarely controlled the puck.

But after 20 minutes, the game was tied, 1-1. The Bruins didn’t sink enough of their chances. Their best look was a Carl Soderberg point-blank attempt. Soderberg didn’t even put his shot on net. The center whipped the puck wide right.


“The challenge of our lack of finish is probably the biggest concern right now,” said Julien. “I think we had the better of the game tonight five on five. There’s no doubt we played a lot more in their end than we did in ours.”

For whatever reason, the Flames struggle early. They click into their game late. In the third period, they had outscored their opponents by a 77-47 margin. They are 9-3 in overtime. It is not fun to play a tight game against the Flames, as the Bruins learned last month when they lost in overtime off a last-second bounce.

Had the Bruins finished their chances, they would have had some late-game breathing room. Instead, they went wide when they should have shot true. In the third period, with the game tied at 2, the Bruins pulled away for a three-on-one rush. Soderberg slid a cross-ice pass to Loui Eriksson. The right wing missed the net entirely.

“I felt I had the chances to score a hat trick, for sure,” said Eriksson, who tapped in a net-front rebound at 11:40 of the third to tie the game, 3-3. “When I get the chance, I have to bury those and be a little more patient. I had a lot of chances to get those goals.”

It’s a good thing that Eriksson is getting looks. He led the team with seven shots on net. At 14:58 of the third, Eriksson had a close-range sniff for the winning goal. But Ramo dived back into position and stopped Eriksson’s shot with his mask.


Looks, however, aren’t enough at this stage of the year. The Bruins put themselves in the position where generating chances won’t do the trick. Those chances have to become goals, not poor-us missed opportunities.

Nobody knows why NHL players can’t sink surefire shots. Perhaps it’s a lack of skill. Maybe it’s an absence of confidence.

“It seems that’s been our biggest challenge this season — having that killer instinct and finishing off plays,” Milan Lucic said. “It cost us again tonight when we had the lead, to extend the lead. When we made it 3-3, we had chances to win the game. We don’t bear down. We give them a chance to win in the shootout.”

The Bruins gave the Flames seven power plays. Calgary scored on two of them. It wasn’t just the number of penalties the Bruins took. It was when they happened.

In the first, seven seconds after the Bruins killed a boarding call on Max Talbot, Matt Bartkowski went off for hooking. With 16 seconds left in the first, Soderberg was called for hooking. The Bruins went on the power play at 1:19 of the third after Calgary was called for too many men. Twenty-one seconds later, that power play went kaput when Spooner was sent off for a marginal interference penalty.

Too many penalties. Too many missed chances. Not enough points.

“One point’s great,” Chris Kelly said. “But we need two. That’s the reality.”


Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.