For the teams currently in the middle of the conference pack, their places in the standings will change another 20 times between now and the end of the season.
The injuries? It’s part of the game. The Bruins, believe it or not, are among the league’s best for man games lost. Heading into Sunday’s game against Carolina, Boston was ranked 24th among the 30 NHL teams. Translation: 23 other teams in the league have more bumps and bruises and players missing due to injuries than the Boston Bruins. No excuses.
As for those trade rumors, there’s no telling what the Boston brass has up its sleeve in the upcoming weeks. Therefore, there’s no reason to worry about it. You can even ask Dennis Wideman, who’s been one of the few players single-handedly "called out" by head coach Claude Julien and who was left to take the brunt of the beating by the fans all by himself (see: NESN's broadcast against Columbus last Thursday night).
"The deadline’s coming up, as well as things going the way they’ve been going," Wideman said. "Around this time of year, when you get to this point of the season, there’s always chances of changes. But that’s not something that you can think of as a player. If you’re thinking about stuff like that, it’s death."
So where can the Bruins channel their focus if it hasn’t already gone haywire in another direction?
The players in the Bruins' locker room are the only ones capable of turning around this current slump. Shawn Thornton said after Sunday’s brutal loss at Carolina that he’s seen teams go on 10-game losing streaks only to go on to win 12 in a row right after that. It happens. That’s what hockey is all about.
Let’s just hope Thornton is right.
The Bruins are sitting back too much in their own zone, they aren’t generating penalties and they are essentially playing games trying not to lose, rather than dominating and earning a win.
These are not the big, bad Bruins that teams feared last season. Instead, it’s become another victory on the schedule for their opponents, and after going 1-7-1 in their recent vacation, the Bruins find themselves on the outside looking in on a playoff spot.
Marc Savard is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday night in Buffalo, and that will be a huge boost for this struggling team. Marco Sturm, Byron Bitz and Steve Begin appear to be close to a return as well. But don’t think that all the troubles will go away once a few extra sweaters are on the ice.
In times like these, it’s all about self-evaluation. Each and every player in that locker room needs to start believing in himself again. As Johnny Boychuk said on Tuesday, “We are all confident in the room that we can turn it around.”
Well then, let’s see it, boys. The fans deserve it, you the players deserve it and this city could certainly use it. Last season brought way too much enthusiasm and hype back to a city destined to be a hockey town again. Don’t let that slip away.
Fix the X’s and O’s on the ice, get rid of that feeling of defeat and uncertainty in the locker room and focus on a win against Northeast Division powerhouse Buffalo on Friday night.
It’ll be the first step on the road to recovery, and the first step toward getting the fans to believe again. At the end of the day, the latter is probably just as important as the former. Nobody likes to play in an empty arena.