The Bruins are not content with any moral victories from Saturday’s loss to the Leafs. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)
If this loss happened to the Bruins a month ago, it stings, but they learn from it and move forward. If this loss happens against a team from the Western Conference tomorrow, they likely do the same.
But to lose this game, a 6-5 loss on TD Garden ice, to these Maple Leafs, who are now just one point behind the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic and with five games in hand, well that’s just plain rotten.
Entering action with a 37 percent chance of making the playoffs, and with a chance for that figure to bump up another seven percent with a win, the Bruins instead lost, and saw their playoff hopes dip over nine percent, down to 27.8 percent. The Bruins, who have not had a winning streak longer than three games this season, were already up against the percentages when it came to their playoff aspirations, are now in a situation where they’ll likely have to nab 65 percent of the remaining 54 points on their schedule.
Three-goal comeback from 4-1 down? Valiant effort, sure, but who cares, you still lost.
There are no moral victories left for this team.
It’s just the truth of this team’s situation.
Already entrenched in must-win territory in February, the Bruins lost perhaps the biggest game of the month’s rest-heavy slate.
“Yup,” Bruins forward Ryan Spooner said when asked if they’re beyond taking the positives of a loss. “I’d say 27 games left in the year, that team is now a point behind us with five games in hand. You’ve got to win games. It doesn’t matter if we had 40 shots and they had, I don’t know, I guess 27. It doesn’t really matter. We just need to win right now and we didn’t.”
The Bruins finished the loss with 41 shots on goal (the Bruins attempted 79 shots in total, including 19 misses), but were doomed by costly own-zone mistakes at key moments, twice giving up go-ahead goals with less than five minutes in the third period. The loss, by the way, gives the Bruins eight losses in games where they’ve put at least 40 shots on net this season.
“We fought back, so you like those kinds of things, but at the end of the night, it’s about winning hockey games,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “And I have to say that tonight, we found a way to lose. So that’s the disappointing part.”
It’s not just the loss, but the inevitable situation that this really puts the Bruins in. Unless the Leafs lose all of their remaining games in hand, they will at some point pass the Bruins at this rate, and leave the Black and Gold on the outside looking in.
“We knew how important those two points in that game were and it’s very disappointing and frustrating at the same time, you know, you can;t give up six goals if you want to win any hockey game,” Patrice Bergeron, who scored the game-tying goal with 2:54 left in the third, said. “The last thing you want to do is claw your way back all the time and, you know, down by three goals, it’s obviously if you prevent that it makes it a lot easier on us and then we have a much better chance to come out with the win.”
“They’re a point behind us now,” a frustrated Spooner said of the Leafs. “We kind of talked about it. If we had won, they would have been five points back with five games in hand, which isn’t terrible. It sucks but we’ve just got to move on.”
And do it as their window begins to slowly close.