There was one word on the minds of observers throughout Saturday night thanks to four pucks clanking off posts in the B's shootout loss to the Blues. Turns out it was on the Bruins' minds too.
"I thought we were snakebit a little tonight to be honest with you," Claude Julien said after the 2-1 loss. "Two goals that had to be reviewed and even in the shootout we score one and the other two are posts."
That's the type of night it was for the Bruins. They didn't display the stagnancy that plagued them in previous losses, and they got tougher and tougher on the Blues and goaltender Jaroslav Halak as the night went on. They certainly didn't get the bounces throughout the night, but it was the closest thing the B's have had to a hard-fought 60 minute (and then some) loss.
"It was such a great hockey game," Zdeno Chara said after the game. "It was really up and down hockey, and I think the fans probably didn’t see a lot of goals, but I think they could see everything else -- a lot of good chances, big hits, good fights, a lot of battles, big saves from both goaltenders, and it was just a great hockey game."
The Bruins had just six shots on Halak in the first period, but the shots on goal were nearly even by game's end, with the Blues outshooting the B's, 35-34. Tuukka Rask played his best game of the season, giving up some big rebounds early but making key saves late in the third and in overtime. Even so, he remains winless through four games and three starts, and his record sits at 0-3-1.
"It is what it is, and it doesn’t matter to me if I win or lose," Rask said following the game. "The only thing that matters is the team keeps winning. The stats are the stats and hopefully people don’t look at them too much."
Here is the hat trick of storylines to emerge from the B's shootout loss, the first of which is quite obvious:
PLAYING THE 'WHAT IF?' GAME WITH DAVID KREJCI
Not getting both points is certainly a blow to the Bruins, but nowhere near as big a blow as it will be if David Krejci's injury is serious.
Krejci was hit by T.J. Oshie early on in overtime and went crashing into the boards. The hit appeared to be perfectly clean, but so much couldn't be said for Krejci's head in the following moments. The first-line center remained on the ice for a couple of minutes as he was tended to by trainer Don DelNegro. He was helped off the ice by Zdeno Chara and Andrew Ference and left the game.
The only update offered after the game was that Krejci did not have to go to the hospital, and that he underwent testing at the Garden.
"Obviously he got rattled," Julien said after the game. "He got his bell rung there and we don’t know what the severity is of it is right now."
With Marc Savard still working his way back from post-concussion syndrome symptoms, the last thing the Bruins could want is their current first-line center to also miss time with a head injury. The biggest question would be how the B's would deal with potentially having Krejci out.
It wasn't long ago that the Bruins were kicking around the idea of putting Blake Wheeler at center before ultimately giving the third-line job to Tyler Seguin. If Krejci was to miss time and Wheeler was moved to a center, Daniel Paille would be able to end his 10-game streak of being a healthy scratch. Of course, such line shuffling and even the prospect of Krejci missing time is purely speculative, but if Krejci is sidelined the Bruins will have a decision to make. His teammates are certainly hoping it doesn't come to that.
"He’s one of our best players and you don’t want to see him get hurt," Nathan Horton said. "I’m not really sure what happened or what’s wrong, but hopefully he’ll be OK and he’ll be back out."
AGE WON'T HINDER SEGUIN IN SHOOTOUTS
People may not be fans of the shootout, but it probably won't be long before Bruins fans fully endorse it now that Seguin is in town. He's just 18, he's still coming along defensively and his hockey smarts and awareness might be better a couple of years down the road, but none of that takes away from Seguin's skill set as a natural scorer.
From the beginning of training camp, it was rather clear that Seguin, no matter how the rest of his game was coming along, would be a terrific option for the B's when the contests come down to penalty shots. One day in Belfast stood out in particular. The team was doing a fun drill that consisted of penalty shots and "betting" sprints on who would score. The laughter on the ice could be heard from the stands, but it was during that drill that Seguin, even as young as he was, was clearly in his element. He didn't have to take a face-off, didn't have to make adjustments defensively and didn't need to beat defensemen. All he had to do was what he does best: score.
Claude Julien seems to agree with that logic early in the season. Seguin didn't see a corpuscle of ice time in overtime, something that Julien chalked up to going against bigger guys, but the coach was sure to include his youngster in the shootout. Seguin was the only one to beat Halak, deking the former Habs netminder and scoring top-shelf on the back-hand. The crowd was amazed, but Julien wasn't surprised.
"I felt that these last two games were against big teams, high tempo, and [had] a lot going on," Julien said, "and it seemed like it was a bit of a struggle for [Seguin and Jordan Caron] at some points. … He’s a young kid that’s learning, and when it came time for the shootout, I even told him, 'You’ve got an opportunity to make a difference here,' and as you can see, his skill level is great."
Zero goals, zero assists, and an even rating. The stats didn't suggest that it was Nathan Horton's best game as a Bruin, but on Saturday the 25-year-old certainly appeared to display the highest level of hockey he's played in black and gold.
Prior to the game, the hard-working guys and girls in the WEEI.com stat truck uncovered that Horton doesn't shoot the puck a lot for a goal-scoring winger. Well, that cat was already out of the bag, but they did produce the stat that 26 of Horton's 148 career goals have been on his only shot of the game. Presented with that statistic before to the game, Horton said that his low shot totals are not a result of philosophy, and that he did intend to shoot the puck more.
“I definitely need to take more shots,” Horton admitted before the game. “The only way to score goals is to have more shots. It’s definitely something that I need to get better at."
To his credit, he backed up his words against the Blues. Horton tied a career high by putting eight shots on Jaroslav Halak, and even beat him twice, though his two perceived goals went off the post and cross bar, respectively. Despite appearing unable to buy a goal, Horton turned it on as the game went on and made it as difficult on Halak as he could.
"I thought he played a great game tonight," Julien said. "He shot more, but he also battled."
Horton's been accountable regarding what he can perceive as being his shortcomings. Now he's out to wipe them out, and Saturday was a statement game for the winger in that regard.