Philly Sports Live

Bruins lose in a shootout to the Flames, 4-3 (NBC on Yahoo Sports)

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins 4-3 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday night at TD Garden. 1) It’s a difficult start to a grueling part of the regular season for the Bruins that will be “make or break” for their playoff chances. The Bruins play 11 games in 18 days, with dates against the teams chasing them in the Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators. They have four sets of back-to-back games, where the Bruins have pretty much mailed it in for the second game all season long. They stand with a two-point lead over the Panthers for the second wild-card spot and the Flyers are fading at this point with a big Saturday matinee between Boston and Philly, but Ottawa is the team to watch out for at this point. They are the one gaining major ground by the week and have the talent to be able to overtake the B’s. Meanwhile, the Panthers are holding a between-period contest for a fan to become their next emergency third goaltender in case both goalies get injured in the same game again. The Bruins have reached the sprint portion of their schedule and look forward to the importance this month’s gauntlet-like schedule represents to their fate. Win and they’re in, lose and look out below. “Nineteen games left, especially with this stretch. Today was the start of 11 games in 18 days and we know this is our season,” said Milan Lucic. “If we want to be in the playoffs this is the most important time of the year for us to get our game going, and get points, and not give points away, kind of like we did tonight. I’m more than confident with the group that we have. It’s just a matter of, like I said, being confident in those areas where we’re creating scoring chances and burying them.” 2) Interesting strategy to not use Patrice Bergeron sooner in the shootout. I’m not averse to throwing Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak into the mix because of their skill and speed, and I think that was a good call, even if it didn’t work out. Still, Bergeron showed why he should be in those top three shootout shooters by scoring and giving the Bruins a chance to win in the seventh round before Josh Jooris extended the NHL’s novelty act by also scoring. That set up David Schlemko for the game-winning shootout goal tribute to Peter Forsberg, where he extended the puck away from his body and was able to reach the puck around Tuukka Rask for the winner. The results give the Bruins seven straight losses in the shootout dating to a November win over the Blue Jackets and even more confirmation that the B’s just don’t have enough skill in the shootout department. That has cost them some valuable points this season that could have separated them from some of the teams trying to chase after them. 3) I’m beginning to think the Bruins should stick with Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak skating with Milan Lucic for a while. Once again they created a goal in the second period when Spooner and Pastrnak overwhelmed Deryk Engelland behind the Calgary net, Pastrnak took the puck away and tossed a quick feed to Spooner. Spooner then fed Lucic for a one-timer as he crashed the net, and 23-year-old Bruins center has created goals in four of the five games he’s played in place of David Krejci. Those two young forwards have speed and skill for days, and that forces Lucic to really move his feet and skate at top speed in order to keep up with everything else that’s going on out on the ice. That brings out the best in Lucic and keeps him moving rather than standing around playing a stagnant game that doesn’t suit him. I wouldn’t be shocked if they stay with Lucic skating with Spooner and Pastrnak if it continues to work for them once Krejci is back in the fold. Plus *Jiri Hudler was the best player on the ice. He scored a goal in the second period, finished with two points, had five shots on net and eight generated shot attempts while creating offense all over the attack zone. He nearly won it in the final seconds with a shot that came in just high and bounced it over the top of the net. *Spooner, who helped create the Lucic goal in the second period, now has points in four out of five games since being up with the Bruins. He generated seven shot attempts by playing full tilt with his skating speed. He made a couple of iffy decisions on the power play, but was otherwise excellent for the Bruins. *Dennis Wideman finished with two assists, nine generated shot attempts and eight blocked shots in 33:04 of ice time in the win for Calgary. Where was that when he played for the Bruins? Minus *Reilly Smith finished without a shot on net, took a penalty that wiped out a Bruins power play in the third period and didn’t have much of an offensive presence in the game. He couldn’t rescue the game in the shootout when given the chance, either. *Loui Eriksson had a goal in the third period, but he also had a handful of chances to win the game in regulation and couldn’t bury any of those chances. He could have had a hat trick in the third period alone, and didn’t finish most of those chances. *No shots on net and 6-of-18 in the face-off circle for Carl Soderberg, who has zero goals in his past 17 games in the worst such streak of his career. – Joe Haggerty, CSN New England