(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
Having fallen to their nemesis and arch rival the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, the Bruins had been talking about how important it was to come back from that and bring a sense of urgency. The Boston Bruins were playing their tenth of 19 three games in four nights, having narrowly beaten the New York Islanders on Saturday night, followed by the loss to the Canadiens, before seeing the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
After the Canadiens game, in which the team appeared to come out flat, there was some concern that the team was falling into a mindset that was allowing for an increase in mistakes.
“There’s going to be mistakes in every game. That’s what hockey is. It’s a game of mistakes,” Brad Marchand said. “The thing is to try to minimize those. We’ll have a rest day tomorrow and make sure that we come ready to play on Tuesday.”
Unfortunately, it did not appear as though the team was ready to play a full sixty minutes. Once again there were major spans of time when the Bruins made passing errors and struggled as they had during the weekend. Despite having a five minute major power play in the first (a result of Antoine Roussel’s stick check to Adam McQuaid’s neck) and a four minute power play (the second half of which was negated when Carl Soderberg was called for tripping), the Bruins not only were unable to capitalize on these man advantages, but instead gave up a short handed goal on each.
At the end of the first period the score was 3-1 in favor of Dallas, who added two even strength goals after David Krejci had tied the game. The defensive play in front of Niklas Svedberg was completely absent. Miscommunication could be seen in almost every play. Watching the scrambles for the puck were painful, but when Zdeno Chara and David Pastrnak collided in open ice in the offensive zone, it was clear that something wasn’t working.
The Bruins are sitting in a wild card slot for the playoffs, with the Florida Panthers just four points behind, having two games in hand. This is somewhat unfamiliar territory to the team in recent years and stems in part from their difficult start to the season.
“Well, we’re sitting in eighth place right now and even if we were winning I think we would still have that sense of urgency and you know the mental preparation to make sure that we’re ready to win the next game whoever it is against,” Torey Krug said after the loss to the Canadiens. “So yeah we haven’t been playing well the last three games, so we’re going to take a look at our game and try and fix those mistakes, and you know, approach it even if we were playing well, approach it the same way.”
Urgency is defined as importance requiring swift action; an earnest and persistent quality. And while the Bruins may be earnest in their talk, they struggled during the weekend to put that into action, a situation that needs to be addressed.
“You tackle that problem head on, I mean, I said we were sitting in eighth place and that’s not a comfortable position to be in,” Krug continued. “So we have to make sure that we take that problem, we face it and we take care of it because if you don’t take care of that then you’re going to fall behind in a lot of hockey games.”
And fall behind they did, three times during the Dallas game. Not once during the game were the Bruins on top. Was it that the Stars had figured out a way to defeat the Bruins’ style of play?
“Just play good team defense. That’s a big thing for our team right now, is taking care of our own end,” said Stars Jamie Benn, who scored two goals in the game. “We know we can score goals, but it’s keeping them out of our net that we need to focus on.”
And while the Bruins contributed to their own lack of finish, the Stars goalie, Kari Lehtonen, stood tall in the net for his team, stopping 41 of the 44 shots that made it to him. He was essential to the Stars, while their offensive play aided them by scoring goals.
“Well, I thought we had some good shifts early on. But obviously their goals kind of put us back on our heels,” responded Patrice Bergeron. “But yeah, I think offensively we were doing some good things and defensively we weren’t at all, and you can’t do that against a team like that. Where that’s not our style to play run-and-gun and exchanging chances.”
The Bruins have mentioned a number of times getting away from their game. So the obvious question would seem to be if they know they need to play their game, then why don’t they?
“Yeah, that’s a good question. I thought we were done talking about it a month ago, but I guess not,” said Rask. “We just keep going back to the same mistakes we used to do and not keeping our heads in the game. If we don’t fix that now, it’s going to be too late pretty soon. So hopefully we don’t have to talk about it anymore.”
The team heads to Vancouver on Thursday to begin a five-game road trip. Hopefully they can get in some extra team bonding, regain their trust in each other on the ice and get back to playing their game.