The phrase “missed opportunities” has been swirling around the Bruins of late: missed opportunities to wrap up the Northeast Division title over the last few weeks, and, on Sunday, missed opportunities to beat Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner and squeak into the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins had 36 shots on Sunday – 29 through the first two periods – but the shots they missed, or failed to take, stood out. Both Tyler Seguin  and Dennis Seidenberg  shot high on promising rushes, and Seguin also waited too long to shoot on a previous chance, allowing Ottawa’s defense to get back in position against him. When they did get the puck on net, Lehner or his defensemen usually took care of the rebounds before the Bruins got there for second chances.
“Lots of scoring chances, and when you don’t bury them, eventually the other team comes in and scores,” Bruins coach Claude Julien  said. “We let them hang around for too long, and when I say hang around, even when we had a 2-2 game, before that, in the first period, we had lots of good scoring chances and didn’t capitalize.”
Sunday’s game mirrored the last few weeks in a way: the Bruins also let the Canadiens hang around too long in the standings. Despite a 4-6-0 showing in their last 10 games, Montreal eventually finished with 63 points to the Bruins’ 62, wrapping up the second seed in the East while the Bruins finished fourth.
The Bruins went 3-5-2 in their last 10 games, with those only three wins coming against non-playoff teams: the Devils, the Lightning and the Panthers. While the end of the regular season doesn’t always have much bearing on the postseason, the Bruins’ last game before the playoffs certainly reflected some larger issues.
Julien attributed the Bruins’ failure to finish on Sunday to a possible lack of focus. After a game where they didn’t follow through on many rebounds, he also noted that the B’s would have to work harder close to the net to succeed.
“It’s pretty simple. You’ve got to get your nose a little dirtier, and you’ve got to have the confidence to shoot,” Julien said. “We all know that teams that want to get their nose dirty in front of the net during the playoffs are going to get rewarded, so we have the guys that have the ability to do that, and now we’ve got to get them to do it.”
Across the Bruins’ locker room, the refrain on Sunday was that they were happy with the game they played, just not the results they got. Shawn Thornton  said he thought the Bruins’ failure to bury the chances they created was a mixture of bad luck and offensive issues, and joked about an unconventional way to turn their fortunes around.
“Probably a bit of both,” Thornton said. “I think there’s been some second opportunities where we maybe didn’t bear down as hard as we could. There’s also some posts and some pucks hopping and some of that stuff too. So I don’t want to dwell on it too much. We’re just going to probably sacrifice a chicken or something.”