The only bright spot of Monday afternoon’s matinee was 11-year-old Kwaharani Kieran Jacobs, who effortlessly belted both the American and Canadian national anthems in front of more than 17,500 fans in attendance on Kids Day at the Garden. If the players on the ice performed half as well as Jacobs did on that grand stage, they may have salvaged a point against Ottawa.
Instead, the banged-up and tired Bruins allowed the Senators to jump out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, a 4-0 lead thanks to Daniel Alfredsson and his natural hat trick by the end of the second, and a 5-1 final when 60 minutes ran out.
There are no excuses, and if you listened to the players after the game, they’re not giving them. No one else is responsible for the team’s poor play except the players in that dressing room. And you can bet they’ll turn things around as a result of the embarrassment on home ice, not to mention the 1-1-1 road trip out West.
The Bruins need points in the standings in order to keep their postseason hopes alive. Buffalo has climbed to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Don’t look now, but while the B’s own the fifth spot in the East, they are only four points ahead of Florida, which is currently on the outside looking in. That is a scary statistic.
The best news for the Bruins is that we should see Marco Sturm, Byron Bitz, Steve Begin and maybe even Marc Savard return to the ice in the next couple of games. The rest of the lineup is suffering from midseason bruises and injuries, but they are battling through — a good sign of the team’s resiliency and passion to compete. Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Mark Stuart are recovering from major setbacks, but they are competing each night to give their team a chance to win.
Rest assured, this Bruins team will not let its fans down. It’s a long season, and there are always slumps in the NHL. There are more positives than negatives facing the Bruins in the next few weeks.
And I haven’t even mentioned the two-week Olympic break that will give all but six members of the Bruins some much-needed mental and physical time away from the game. Nor have I brought up the NHL trade deadline on March 3 that could bring added reinforcements.
The season is not evaluated after one game, one month or even 40-plus games. It’s a long road to the finish line. If the Bruins can hang in there during this difficult stretch, it’ll only make them stronger in the end.