Well, the good news for the Bruins (39-26-8) is that they won’t see another California team again this season – unless it is in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final and it’s likely that they would not complain much about that admittedly unexpected development. Boston went 0-for-3 on its just completed road trip to the Golden State, ending with a 2-1 loss against the Kings (44-22-5) on Saturday night at Staples Center. The B’s lost 3-2 against the Sharks (40-25-6) last Tuesday and got blanked by the Ducks (39-22-9) 4-0 on Friday. A pair of one-goal losses versus two of the better teams in the West shows that they made progress, but all told, Boston went 0-6 against the three California clubs after they had all won at TD Garden earlier this season.
“You can like your team’s performance in the second and third (period) but at the end of the day, we’re going home empty-handed and that’s not what came for,” admitted Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “So maybe it was good that we were able to show that we’re capable of playing with these guys if we set our minds to it.”
Though they didn’t gain any points in California, the B’s didn’t exactly melt as Zdeno Chara got into a rare fight (vs. Clayton Stoner) against the Ducks and fellow defensemen Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves with LA’s Dwight King.
Boston is now off until Wednesday (8, NBCSN) when it visits the Rangers (40-24-8). Of their nine remaining contests, four are at home (starting with Thursday’s key meeting with Florida) and five are on the road. More importantly for the B’s, seven of the nine tilts are against Eastern Conference foes. After starting their last road trip on top in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins have dropped to third-place behind the Panthers (40-23-9) and Lightning (41-26-5). Florida is three points ahead of Boston and Tampa Bay is two points ahead of them, plus each Sunshine State squad has played one fewer game than the Black and Gold.
The Bruins-Rangers games are always very competitive and the importance of the Bruins-Panthers tilt is obvious. But Boston does get a break this coming Saturday (7, NESN) as it visits Toronto (25-35-11) – the worst team in the NHL. Keep in mind that while this past week didn’t really show it, the B’s are still one of the best road teams (23-10-3) in the league. The B’s are .500 at home (16-16-5) and their goal-differential is plus-19. The Bruins are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games so it is critical that they can get over this winless trip to California quickly in order to reach their bigger goals (playoff spot, home ice, etc.) in 2015-16.