WILMINGTON, Mass.The Bruins placed the bar extraordinarily high by losing only three times in regulation during the months of November and December.So some of the concern surrounding their recent 4-4-1 stretch is a perception issue.
But Brad Marchand made a good point on the heels of Bostons listless 3-0 shutout loss to Carolina on Thursday night.
It doesnt take a few losses for us to know that were not playing our best hockey. We can see it even when we win and play poorly," he said.
"The biggest thing is that we all sit down, regroup and refocus. We need to understand that coming down the stretch we need to be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs. We all know what its like, we know what its about, and weve been through this last year.We just need to make sure we turn it around and play better hockey."
The Bruins arent playing their customary tight defense and have slackened the normally ideal pace of their offensive attack. The emotion has been drained from their game, and the won-loss results have sunk into mediocrity.
"A lot of it is just our focus," said Marchand. "Were having little mental breakdowns that are costing us goals and opportunities. Theyre just little letdowns that are uncharacteristic of us. We have to just clean up some areas.
The Bruins know they must get that focus back if they want to avoid lineuproster adjustments from the coaching staff and management. Everyone knows this group is capable of winning a Stanley Cup if everything goes right, as it did last year.But theres only so long an organization will wait if things go flat.Changes will be made, whether they're simple line changes by coach Claude Julien or deals by general manager Peter Chiarelli.
The only way the Bruins can prevent that is by winning.
They havent been receiving full efforts from the entire 20-man roster over the last 10 games. Work ethic normally isnt a problem for the Bruins, as they so strongly proved in November and December, but it has been lately. And the players sounded embarrassed by their effort after getting shut down by the Hurricanes Thursday night in an inconsistent effort.
That embarrassment was replaced by determination during Fridays practice at Ristuccia Arena.
We all recognize the problem," said Patrice Bergeron. "We know its not going to happen overnight. We need to work through it. We need to make sure we keep working hard, but we need to work smart. We cant just go through the motions and expect that things are going to turn around.
Its obvious when you look at October and the last few games weve playedand then look at how we played in November and Decemberthat there is a way we need to play and want to play. To get back to that level, we need to make sure we go back to the identity and the foundation that makes up our personality.
If hard work and a defensive mindset serve as that personality, then the Bruins have been grappling with an identity crisis over the last two weeks.
It's time for them to get their identity back.