The Boston Bruins have struggled in games that go beyond 60-minutes this season. Boston has the third-most points in the NHL and has looked dominant for the majority of the season but continue to falter in overtime and shootouts.
Boston Bruins Overtime Struggles
The Bruins, who lead the Atlantic Division by 10 points, have had nine games go to overtime this season. After losing to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime on Tuesday, the Bruins fell to 2-3 in overtime this season. The other four games went to a shootout.
Boston is 2-2 in overtime games at home and 0-1 on the road. The wins coming against the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers while losing against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.
In nine overtime periods the Bruins have generated a total of 20 shots-on-goal while surrendering 21. However, 11 of Boston’s shots-on-goal came in the losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. Outside of those two games, Boston has been out-shot by a total of 13-9 in overtime.
In total, Boston has out-shot their opponent three times in overtime but have a 1-2 record in those games. The Bruins out-shot the New York Rangers 1-0 in their overtime win on November 29th but lost to the Panthers and Kings despite out shooting them 6-5 and 3-2 respectively in overtime.
The Bruins have shown signs of greatness at times in overtime so it shouldn’t cause major concern just yet. Quite simply, the Bruins need to finish on the quality chances they’re getting in overtime. Their struggles in overtime pale in comparison to their struggles in shootouts.
Bruins Without a Shootout Win
The Bruins have lost all four of their shootouts this season. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have been solid in net but Boston simply has lost the ability to score in shootouts. Boston has two goals on 16 attempts (12.5 percent) during shootouts this year. Charlie Coyle has both of Boston’s goals on his four attempts. David Pastrnak (three attempts), Brad Marchand (four attempts), Jake Debrusk (one attempt), Chris Wagner (two attempts), Charlie McAvoy (one attempt) and David Krejci (one attempt) have all been unsuccessful in shootouts this season.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was questioned about his shootout lineup after the loss to the Panthers in November. Cassidy opted for Wagner and McAvoy instead of Pastrnak or Patrice Bergeron. He spoke about his decision being based upon the tendencies of Panthers goalie Sam Montembeault. “Pasta tends to like to deke, so that’s why we went away from him,” said Cassidy. “He’s been a little bit cold lately in the shootout, so give some other guys an opportunity that we feel can finish.”
The Bruins leading scorers, Pastrnak and Marchand, have yet to score in seven combined attempts. Marchand is tied for the most shootout attempts without a goal in the NHL this season (4) while Pastrnak is tied for second (3).
Pastrnak has three goals on 20 shootout attempts in his career (15 percent). Marchand has nine goals on 41 career attempts (22 percent).
Bergeron (17 goals on 68 career attempts) and Torey Krug (two goals on 11 career attempts) have not been used in a shootout this season, something that Cassidy may change going forward.
The inability to win shootouts isn’t something new for Boston. They are last in the league with a 20.7 shooting percentage (50-for-241) in shootouts over the last eight seasons, including the current season.
The Bruins four shootout losses are tied for the second most in the league and are one of eight teams without a shootout victory this season.
The Bruins need to find ways to score in overtime and shootouts. While shootouts can’t hurt them during the Stanley Cup playoffs it could dictate their seed come playoff time. The Bruins have a 10-point lead in the Atlantic Division but have already left four points on the table from shootouts alone.
Between overtime and shootouts the Bruins have left seven total points on the table this season. Those games could have an adverse effect that goes beyond point totals. Not capitalizing on scoring chances in overtime prolongs the game allowing a greater risk of injury to players. It also increases fatigue for a team that had a short summer off after a deep playoff run. The Bruins are the third-oldest team in the NHL with an average age of 28.4 years-old. Boston needs to stay healthy and rested if they plan on another deep postseason run. Winning games in overtime would help increase their lead in the division allowing for more ability to rest players towards the end of the regular season.
Despite another unsuccessful finish for Boston in overtime on Tuesday, Cassidy was pleased with the way the team played. “It’s tough to get upset with the guys, they made their play,” said Cassidy. “Just didn’t finish.”
Overtime games can be more chaotic and unpredictable. The three-on-three overtime format creates a fast-paced session that typically sees games end before going to a shootout. While getting one point out of a game is certainly better than none, Boston has had plenty of chances to score in overtime. They have been unable to finish. The Bruins must be able to capitalize in overtime and shootouts — something they haven’t done enough of this season.
BOSTON, MA – NOVEMBER 16: Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) fends off Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov (9) during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals on November 16, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)