Bruins Forfeit Game 5

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claude julien boston bruins

Claude Julien and The Boston Bruins: Not In Attendance For Game 5

Because that’s what it is when only one team shows up for a game, right? A forfeit?

Sorry to be so hard on the boys, folks, but that’s the way Game 5 at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo last night seemed to me. I mean, I don’t mind losing a game if it’s hard fought and you get beat in an honest match. That’s going to happen. Look at the Capitals being unable to close out Montreal last night at home. Finishing off a series is a tough thing to do. What I do mind is when my team bends over in a spread legged stance and lets the other team have it’s way with them. Sorry for the crude analogy, friends, but it is what it is.

The Bruins were done in that game as soon as the second goal was scored. Maybe they were done when Paul Gaustad showed some snarl on the opening face-off. Certainly no one on the B’s showed any aggression in return. All night long the Sabres were nasty, in the Bruins’ faces and there was little or no return battle until the last second ticked off the clock and Zdeno Chara decided enough was enough and went after Gaustad with a vengeance.

Little late, Z.

Luckily, the NHL decided not to suspend Chara as a result of the incident, which is actually a break for the Bruins given how hard the league looks at stuff that happens in the last 5 minutes of games. Peter Chiarelli apparently had to submit a written request to league officiating to have the instigator recinded, likely based on the wicked slash Gaustad laid on Z to initiate the throw down. Bit of luck, there, folks, beacuse if Chara had been sitting for Game 6…? Oh, man.

They were lifeless in the snarl department the rest of the night, though. The score sheet had the Bruins throwing 24 hits in the game and I do think that’s being generous because it seemed like less. In contrast, the Sabres threw 35. Probably would have been more but the way their opponents turned meek and started going through the motions in the second period, they obviously realized they could back off. Hits are the best measure of how into a game a team is, how much desire and will they have to get ugly and get the job done. In the two wins in Boston they threw 38 and 46 respectively. Last night there was less hitting and more skating around after the whistle with their heads down. Their body language had “loser” written all over it.

I’d like to be in the Bruins locker room before a game like this and hear what the Claude Julien has to say to his team on the subject of agression. Does he not believe in being a hard, hitting, scrapping team on the road, fearing it will only inspire the local crowd and boost the home team? Does he tell them not to fight on the road? Because if there was ever a time to show some nasty to the Sabres and maybe send a message it was last night.

Nothing happened, though, not until the game was over.

What worries me is that this sort of a stinker can easily swing momentum back to the Buffalo side. It could inspire the return of the characterless sort of play that plagued the Bruins all during the regular season. It sets a dangerous tone when you don’t show up in a game. It’s the sort of thing that can be contagious. Bad habits return and the team goes flat.

My hope is that the hometown crowd on Monday night at the Garden won’t let that happen. That they’ll be rockin’ and rollin’ just like they were on Wednesday and the team will play up to their previous level. I hope, I hope.

Because they let one slip away last night and now there’s only two more chances to make it right.

If they’re smart, they’ll only need the one.

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