PRAGUE -- There Zdeno Chara and Peter Chiarelli sat, fielding questions in different languages and smiling through disappointment following the team's 5-2 season-opening loss as they discussed the defenseman's re-signing. Make no mistake -- both parties had plenty of reason to be thrilled given that Chara, the team's captain and top defenseman, will be around for eight more seasons on a seven-year extension -- but smiling must have been a tough thing to do after such an important season began with such a dud. Just remember: the 2004 Red Sox kicked things off by watching Sidney Ponson and the Orioles beat up on Pedro Martinez in a 7-2 loss.
"I thought that we were kind of flat in the beginning," Chara said. "We could't get anything going, and when we did get some chances, we preferred passing instead of shooting. Maybe we were a little bit nervous, too. And we were forcing some plays, which were fully uncharacteristic of our team."
That's a lot of things the team did wrong for a 12-second comment, no?
Though everything he said was correct, Chara couldn't have summed up the Bruins' effort better than he did with one of the words he used. In calling the team "flat" for the majority of the game, he captured with one word the sluggishness with which the team skated in the first two periods and the lack of bite the offense showed despite having plenty of chances.
Nathan Horton, who scored two goals in his Bruins debut, was the bright spot for the Bruins. Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, both of whom took steps in the right direction following 18-goal seasons in 2009-10, wisely strayed from the team's tendency to pass to much. Wheeler led the team with five shots on goal, while Ryder fired three on net but seemed to have the right idea throughout the night offensively (he did post a minus-two).
Here's the three storylines that emerged from a mostly forgettable season opener:
TURNOVER, AND OVER
Even strength. On the power play. Shorthanded. Offensively. Defensively. In the neutral zone.
No matter what the situation happened to be on Saturday night, the Bruins were astonishingly prone to sloppy play and ensuing turnovers. Daniel Paille and Chara committed the more blatant and notable ones, with Paille's leading directly to Scottie Upshall's second period goal, but it was clearly a team effort when it came to the Bruins' carelessness with the puck.
"To sum it up, I feel like our team, when the game was on the line, made too many unforced errors. When you give a team like that opportunities like we did -- I think they had at least three breakaways (they did, two of which came shorthanded) -- eventually they'll take advantage of it, and they did," Claude Julien said following the game.
"I think that's where the game was played, especially in the second period. In the first period, they get that lucky bounce, and you can live with that, and you can get yourself back in the game. What we did in the second period -- unforced errors and giving them really quality opportunities -- they took advantage of it."
It really was a story of three separate periods. Rather than coming out strong and fading down the stretch, the Bruins were lethargic for 40 minutes before turning it on in the third period. If they can control the puck better and, as Chara said, not fall into habits uncharacteristic of the team, the team will see games against opponents such as the Coyotes as being far more manageable.
TWO DOWN, 38 TO GO?
Bruins fans like the ring of having a 40 goal scorer, and though putting such high expectations on a young player -- and one who was playing in his first game as a Bruin -- might be unfair, Nathan Horton provided every bit of evidence that though he may not be the answer to the team's scoring woes of a year ago, he'll certainly help in a big way.
Horton scored a pair of goals from what Jack Edwards will have to change from being called "the slot" to "Horton's office." At this point, and with six years in the league under his belt, Horton should be considered predictable. For some reason, he isn't (or it hasn't been picked up on yet), and opposing teams will pay the price until they catch on. Here's Nathan Horton for Dummies.
1. He's physical.
2. He's got a tremendous wrist shot.
3. No matter what he's doing in the offensive zone, he will end up perched on the hashmarks, whether with the puck or without it. Once he does get the puck (this is the part Ilya Bryzgalov and the Coyotes' defensemen might want to read before Sunday night) you'll see that wrist shot and a Bruins' goal.
Horton scored both of the Bruins' goals in that fashion, first taking a Milan Lucic feed from behind the net and later doing it from the same spot on a tally assisted by Zdeno Chara and Michael Ryder.
It's only natural to expect a career year out of Horton, who underachieved in Florida but appears to be set up for success on the first line in Boston with Lucic and David Krejci.
NOT SEGUIN'S DREAM DEBUT
Saturday night wasn't exactly the parade that hockey fans felt should have been thrown for Tyler Seguin's NHL debut. He played well for the most part and actually led the Bruins in ice time in the first period. Still, playing on the third line, Seguin posted a minus-two. Though he didn't look as bad as he did early in the preseason in his own zone (believe what you hear when Chiarelli and Julien praise his defensive growth -- he is improving fast) Seguin still sees his overall game as a work in progress.
"I still want to learn to get better in my defensive zone," Seguin said after the game. "I always want to improve on that. You've got to keep shooting, and my line's gaining some more chemistry."
Indeed, the third line, despite being on the ice for two of the Coyotes' second-period goals, did flash some interesting play, Paille's turnover not included. Additionally, Seguin showed promise on the power play, feeding Mark Recchi on what very well could have been the Bruins' first goal.
Seguin, despite being 18 years old, seems to think both the game and the profession well. In speaking with the press, he never lets himself get overly excited, so it's no surprise that while, he didn't admit to in-game jitters, he did see where the Bruins went wrong.
"I had a lot of energy," Seguin said. "I was pretty excited. We had a couple of chances, and once they popped a couple, I thought we just stopped shooting as much. In the third, I think we forgot about the score and just wanted to win the period, and I think we got some more shots. You saw how it turned out, and that's what we want to do tomorrow."
Seguin has talked a lot of dreams when it comes to hockey. First, it was his dream to get drafted. Then it was his dream to make the team. He even hung a Bruins jersey over his bed following the draft. So, in a game in which he finished second on the team with four shots on goal, was this the debut he dreamt of?
"I think you dream of winning," Seguin said. "It wasn't the outcome we wanted, but tonight's going to be a different story."