Playing in a 1 p.m. matinee coming off a three-game trip out West, all while suffering a rash of injuries, the Bruins did have built-in excuses for not being at their best on Monday. But as every player seemed to preach, nothing can excuse the performance the Bruins put forth in an embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.
“Sure, we’re banged up, but there’s no excuse for that type of loss,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
“Banged up” is certainly an understatement, as it seems the Bruins are losing bodies every game. In fact, probably the one positive on Monday was that Boston didn’t suffer any new injuries against the Senators. Other than that, though, this one was ugly, and the Bruins — while acknowledging the injuries and travel schedule have taken their toll — weren’t making excuses. After dealing with the same obstacles on the road and still garnering three of a possible six points, the compete level was not there on Monday, as has been the case too many times this season,
“We just didn’t have the same level of compete [on Monday]," said goaltender Tim Thomas. "Maybe we just couldn’t find the same level of energy. We needed to try to find some way to get the win. We’re playing against a division rival who’s right on our footsteps. So not getting the two points obviously is bothersome.”
The Senators are actually now ahead of the Bruins in the standings, as they are tied with Boston in points but have more wins. Ottawa now sits alone in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and in second place in the Northeast Division. The Bruins will get their final shot at Ottawa on Saturday afternoon in the last game of their six-game season series, but with captain Daniel Alfredsson (hat trick on Monday and four goals and two assists in last two games) back and the Senators getting solid goaltending from Brian Elliot and Mike Brodeur, the Bruins will need to depend on other teams to take care of the Sens.
Monday's game was obviously one that Thomas would like to forget after he allowed three goals on nine shots and was pulled in the second period — but the defense in front of him is what really stood out on Monday. Dennis Wideman is just fighting the puck, and even if he is OK to play, it may behoove head coach Claude Julien to let Wideman watch a few games from above to figure out what he needs to do to find his game.
“Today was terrible,” said Wideman, who posted a minus-3 rating in 22:55, the second-highest time on ice behind captain Zdeno Chara. “I didn’t even want the puck today. I wouldn’t say it’s an up-and-down season [for me] because it has been more so down. There is still a lot of time left, so I just have to find something to build off it and get moving in the right direction.”
Wideman could be let off the hook for the fifth Ottawa goal by Jonathan Cheechoo. Referee Dan O’Rourke was clearly out of position, and he collided with Wideman while Cheechoo picked up the loose puck and beat Tuukka Rask.
“I would have to watch on video to see exactly how far he was off the boards,” Wideman said. “I thought I was almost in the middle of the ice and I wasn’t expecting the referee. I took a look over my shoulder, saw the guy coming, went to turn, all of a sudden, boom, I ran into him. I had no idea he was there.”
After the game, Mike Murphy, vice president of operations for the NHL, told Boston Herald reporter Steve Conroy that the ref was not out of position.
“O’Rourke was reading the play and he came off the boards because he thought the player was going to go wide," Murphy said. "Wideman then changed direction and they collided.”
But that is the least of the Bruins' problems right now, as they still need the likes of Marco Sturm (leg), Steve Begin (undisclosed), Byron Bitz (undisclosed), Marc Savard (knee) and Andrew Ference (groin) to return on a permanent basis.