Twenty minutes doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to win hockey games. The Bruins know it, their fans know it and you can bet that kind of effort will not repeat itself on Wednesday night against Florida.
"For the first 40 minutes, Tampa was dominating the game," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara after Monday night’s 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay. "They deserved to win. We were just too slow to get to the puck. We were losing battles. It's too late when you get going in the last 20. That's not good enough. We've just got to get ready for the next game. Take what we were doing in the third and take it to the next game."
That next game is against a team that the Bruins have previously dominated. Back on Nov. 18, the Bruins shut out the Panthers 4-0. But Tuukka Rask was far too busy for comfort, and the Bruins slept their way through the first 40 minutes of play before Milan Lucic completed a natural hat trick to seal the win and take two points in the Eastern Conference matchup.
It was deja vu all over again. Monday night's loss to the Lightning saw another 20-minute effort for the B’s, only this time they were on the losing end of the final result.
Wednesday night’s outcome will depend on how badly the Bruins want this win. At 11-6-2, the Bruins are the better team. The Panthers are a sub-.500 team that has struggled to find its identity this season. But taking this Florida team lightly is anything but what the Bruins can afford to do.
With Marc Savard passing a battery of neuro-psychological tests on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, he is only weeks away from returning to game action. That means that the Boston brass will have to figure out what to do with his cap hit. Trade him? Not likely. But someone else on the team will take the fall to make room for Savard’s $4 million cap hit for 2010-11. The million dollar question is who?
While speculation grows as to who the odd man out will be when both Savard and left winger Marco Sturm (recovering from ACL surgery) return to the lineup, you can bet every player on the team will fight to make his case. The performance of players like forwards Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler, both of whom have been named in various trade rumors, shows that no one wants to leave this ship.
The Bruins need to come home with a .500 record in the Sunshine State. And they know that. Thanksgiving dinner won’t be nearly as good with a bitter taste left over from two teams in the East. No one likes leftovers, now do they?