Dan Craig would probably tell you the ice in the Winter Classic was fine. The conditions were optimal, the temperature was ideal, but if you were looking for anything resembling a close contest between two of the NHL’s most storied franchises, you were disappointed.
This wasn’t a close game. In fact, the only time the Winter Classic might have swung in the Bruins’ favor was 59 seconds into the first period when Matt Beleskey recorded the first shot of the game. Fifteen seconds later, David Desharnais scored and the game was over.
Not really, but it might as well had been. The Bruins never recovered and struggled to maintain any type of meaningful puck possession for the remainder of the game.
“I think we just had a tough night…the unfortunate part is that I think we played one of our probably worst games at the worst time,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “I think it just seemed like it was one of those nights we couldn’t get anything going the first period. They were all over us. And it just didn’t matter what we tried to do here we just couldn’t get it going.”
The Canadiens had 10 unanswered shots on goal in the same span of 15 minutes in the 1st period where the Bruins had none. By the time the second intermission rolled around, there was talk of the Bruins being the first Winter Classic team to be shut out. Once Beleskey fired one past Mike Condon, the Bruins were unable to carry over any momentum, going another 2:30 without a shot on goal.
Everything that could’ve went wrong for the Bruins did.
“We obviously didn’t deserve to win,” said Julien. “We kind of have to push this aside. Unfortunate that it was on a big stage like this, and you would like to have your team give a better performance, but we didn’t.”
Give the Bruins some credit, though; they could have made excuses. Playing in the Winter Classic without three top six forwards—David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak—the Bruins were quick to squash the assumption that they would have played better if they had a more effective offensive presence.
Maybe, but instead, the Bruins were embarrassed.
“It’s going to be a game we’re not very proud of and we’re always going to look back and be embarrassed about,” said Torey Krug. “We just didn’t do a good job of responding. I thought emotionally it was there for them and it wasn’t for us, and when the other team scores a goal or a big play happens we need our best players to step up and make something happen for us and unfortunately we were just waiting around tonight, and it’s not acceptable”
The Bruins had a chance to leapfrog the Canadiens and sink into first place in the Atlantic Division. Instead, the Bruins miss their opportunity and wonder what could have been.
“It was a big game in the standings for us, but you’ve got to be ready to go and we came out flat and they took advantage of it,” said Jimmy Hayes. “It was a good experience but you always want to get a win and that’s what we play for. We play for wins and didn’t get the two points today.”
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Mike Miccoli covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers and has been a credentialed member of the media for all Bruins’ home games for the past five years. As a former player, coach and official, Miccoli has been around the game of hockey since the age of three. Along with his work on THW, Miccoli has also been published in the New England Hockey Journal, Improper Bostonian magazine and on BostInno.