Coming out of a weekend when the team was espousing that they would take four points and then could get three points and ended up with only two points, it is not a surprise that the team has been put on notice that their current production and location in the Eastern Conference standings is unacceptable.
The team talked big before taking on the Ottawa Senators, a team in their division that is below them in the standings. As has happened all too frequently this season, the team allowed the Senators to score the first goal—thus once again playing catch-up hockey. The Bruins were able to get the go-ahead goal only to be tied at the end of the third which resulted in the game going to overtime; although it was hardly much of an overtime. Just 44 seconds into the extra frame the Senators were celebrating and the Boston Bruins were again taking a single point out of a game.
After the game, the team was under the microscope of the media wondering what was going wrong. Were they getting complacent in getting a point out of each game?
“Definitely not happy. Definitely not satisfied, I don’t think,” assistant captain Patrice Bergeron said. “I think that’s the last thing that we are right now and we’ve said that a lot before.”
Unfortunately though saying it before, the fact remains that the team has not come out strong in any of their recent games with the exception of the win over the Detroit Red Wings; a win that was missing both Milan Lucic and Bergeron. It was the first game in a long while in which it could honestly be said that the team played a hard, full sixty minutes.
Saturday morning before taking on the Senators in a matinee, defenseman Torey Krug was emphatic that getting four points on the weekend required getting two on Saturday. When that didn’t happen, it was hoped that they could rally and get the two points the following afternoon when they played on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“Obviously we got the one point which is better than not getting any, but at this stage we need two points in games and we need to consistently be getting two points to give ourselves a chance to move up,” newly returned d-man Adam McQuaid told The Pink Puck. “We have to get ready for Carolina [Sunday]. This will sting for a little bit here but again it’s a quick turnaround so we have a chance to rebound [Sunday] and we’ll have to do that.”
Unfortunately it was more of the same. Just 34 seconds before the end of the first period the Hurricanes were on the board with the first goal. The Hurricanes are in last place in the standings in the Eastern Conference and are not even at .500 in wins and losses. And somehow this team was able to score first, keep the Bruins off the scoreboard until 14:35 of the second period, and ultimately take the extra point when they won the shootout.
While there have been some positives in the Bruins game of late, there is still a lot of work to be done. Their inconsistency is not just a result of a lack of lucky bounces.
“There’s areas that we need to clean up,” McQuaid explained to The Pink Puck. “Just making simple plays; try not to turn over pucks as much in the neutral zone. I mean, really in all three zones we made some unnecessary turnovers, which normally we’re not a team that’s known to do so.”
Turnovers are becoming costly, as are the defensive breakdowns in front of their netminder. And while there have been games where Tuukka Rask has kept the team at just one goal down, there have been some breakdowns in his netminding that have allowed some soft goals. His response to such is to admit it was soft, but the lack of apparent concern—which could just be his way of not letting it get into his head—is a bit disturbing to those who are concerned about the downward trajectory of the team.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Delaware North had named Charlie Jacobs the CEO of the company’s Boston holdings which includes the Boston Bruins, TD Garden, strategic real estate interests and the company’s ownership share in New England Sports Network (NESN).
“Since 2001 I have called Boston and the TD Garden home, and I am humbled by the opportunity to lead Delaware North’s Boston Holdings,” said Jacobs. “The opportunity to lead three of New England’s most iconic brands – the Boston Bruins, TD Garden and NESN – along with our new development project is a significant one I do not take lightly.”
Nor does he take the current situation of the Bruins casually.
“I’d say without question this has been a very disappointing year,” Jacobs said during a press conference after his new position was announced. “It’s unacceptable the way this team has performed given the amount of time, money and effort that’s been spent on this team, to see it deliver the way it has is unacceptable.”
The most puzzling aspect of the Bruins current state of affairs is that the team is comprised of many ofthe same players who were present when the team took it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011 to bring the chalice back to Boston. This is the same team that in 2013 fought to a Game 6 in the Stanley Cup finals that, after losing, revealed some serious injuries to key players.
Last season they earned the President’s Trophy, given to the team that is first in the NHL at the end of regulation. Unfortunately they fell in the second round of the playoffs to the Montreal Canadiens. Some players could not be brought back, but the “core,” as the leadership group is often referred, was intact. So what is wrong with the team?
Jacobs alluded to the fact that things are fluid right now in regard to decisions and that he does not have a ready answer. It is clear that he expects this team to perform. And given their leadership both on and off the ice it should be doing much better than it has.
The team recalled their first round pick from the 2014 NHL Draft, David Pastrnak, from Providence on Tuesday morning. He spent his time during the holidays representing the Czech Republic in the IIHF World Junior Championship. The Czechs fell to the Slovakians during the Quarterfinals and Pastrnak found himself back playing with the Providence Bruins this past weekend.
Pastrnak has skill, there is no question of this. However he is young at the age of 18 and a bit light in the weight department. His 6’ frame is only carrying 167 pounds at present, making him easy prey when out on the ice.
During Tuesday’s practice he was put on the line with Lucic, David Krejci and Seth Griffith. His skill certainly would serve well on this line, but Lucic is going to have to up his hit quotient to protect Pastrnak if that is the line where the teen plays, if he plays, on Wednesday when the Bruins visit Pennsylvania to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It is clear that something must change for the Bruins. The question right now is will they change it themselves or will players or other personnel be moved to force changes.