The uniforms had the Spoked-B on the front. The names and numbers on the back were those of recognized players of the Boston Bruins hockey team. And yet, somehow as they skated around on the ice in their last two tilts—Thursday night in Detroit against the Detroit Red Wings and Saturday night in Boston against the Washington Capitals—those watching were wondering if perhaps they had been replaced with pod people.
So many passes to empty spaces that were not the result of an intentional dump and chase move. Passes that should have connected a few feet away, except the player who was supposed to receive the pass just wasn’t there. Perhaps such things happening once or twice could be excused, but 120 minutes of such mistakes and questions begin to swirl.
And while the sloppy play is certainly something that the entire team should be concerned with, the more disturbing question was the lack of the collective team mentality that epitomizes the Black and Gold. Hockey teams have personalities. Some rely more heavily on their stars. The Boston Bruins are one of those teams that, to a man, bring their top game.
The Boston Bruins wear down their opponent as each line that is sent out whittles away a little of the strength and resolve of their opponent. At least that is what usually happens when the Bruins take to the ice.
“We’re the definition of a hockey team. Everyone contributes. Everyone works together. There’s no one person bigger than the team, and that’s why we’ve had success in the past,” Assistant Captain Chris Kelly told media after Saturday’s loss. “Line after line , wave after wave, everyone goes out and plays the same way. Some guys have more talent than others and are able to capitalize on certain opportunities, but for the most part, everyone works hard and everyone plays the same way. And that’s just not the case right now.”
It isn’t that the Bruins don’t know that there is a problem. In fact, from Captain Zdeno Chara, to Assistant Captain Patrice Bergeron to winger Milan Lucic, they all talked after the game about bringing their best game; not making excuses; and not feeling sorry for themselves.
Unfortunately, the attitude seen on the ice was one of heads hung, somewhat beaten. As Lucic said after the game, that isn’t the Bruins’ way.
“With the body language and that type of stuff it seems like we were feeling sorry for ourselves, because things weren’t going the right way,” he said. “But when things have gotten tough for us in the past we seem to have kept our chins up and worked through it, and that’s, I think, we’ve got to remind ourselves of that.
Regrouping is clearly in order.
“We’ve got to keep our chins up and fight through it because nobody is going to do it for us,” Lucic continued. “We’ve got to keep our chins up and fight through it because nobody is going to do it for us. We have to do it ourselves and starting with myself I have to be better and take charge in doing what I do best, and try to lead that way.”
And it definitely wasn’t the Lucic that others in the league have dealt with in the past. He is usually a force to be reckoned with and yet twice he was knocked off his skates by players in Capitals jerseys. In the past it has been Bruins opponents getting up off the ice after an encounter with Number 17.
Perhaps Kelly summed it up best.
“I think we were outworked, out-battled, and obviously outplayed over the course of 120 minutes, not just 60,” he said. “I think the only positive I can think of is, it’s game three. Other than that, it’s two poor, poor efforts.”
Kelly also issued a challenge for the team as a whole, who will be back on the Garden ice Sunday morning for practice on how to break out of this detrimental mindset.
“I think you come to practice tomorrow, and you better come to work hard. I don’t want to dwell on it, but I think you want to learn from it, and realize that that kind of play can’t continue,” he stated. “And if it does, we’re not going to be successful. We need to come tomorrow [Sunday] and be ready to work.”
The silver lining, if one can be found, is that this is only the third game of the regular season. There are still 79 more. However, they need to put the breaks on the skid and get back to their style of hockey.