BOSTON — It’s not yet time for the Bruins to panic, but something certainly needs to change and it needs to happen soon for the defending Eastern Conference champions.
The Bruins can’t seem to get out of their own way right now, and that is becoming more and more apparent with every game they play right now. The B’s dropped a 3-2 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night and have now lost four of their last five games. That lone win was a shootout win on Halloween night after being outplayed for much of the game by the Anaheim Ducks.
Boston now sits at 8-5-1, right in the middle of the NHL pack. There are 15 teams in the NHL who have more points than the Bruins as of late Tuesday night. That’s just not good enough for a team that was expected to contend once again this season, and head coach Claude Julien‘s patience is wearing thin.
“Well it came down to a shootout because we played at the level of the other team,” an agitated Julien said after the shootout loss to Dallas. “Not to take anything away from them, but I like to think we’re a better team than what we showed tonight. First 10 minutes were good, and then we got back to some of our old habits and eventually, when you play that way you find ways to lose hockey games and that’s what we’re doing right now; we’re finding ways to lose.”
Leave it to the man in charge to sum it up best. The Bruins added to the list of ways they have lost hockey games on Tuesday night. A couple of weeks ago against New Jersey, it was giving up a couple of late goals for the loss. Against Pittsburgh, it was a slow start and a couple of crucial mistakes in the third period. On Saturday against the Islanders, it was all bad.
Things started well for the Bruins on Tuesday night, though. They put a ton of rubber on Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, as Boston outshot Dallas 15-1 in the first half of the first period. From there, they started to see it get away a little. The Stars started to find their legs, and they started to put a little more pressure on. Yet the Bruins were able to get a goal with 8:21 to play in the third period that looked like it might be what got the club off the schneid.
When it looked like the Bruins had found a way to win the hockey game, they discovered yet another way to lose the hockey game. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg got caught in a bad line change, and he let Vernon Fiddler get behind him. When Seidenberg finally caught up to Fiddler as the forward raced into the zone, all the Boston D-man could do was hook Fiddler. He was given a penalty shot, which he beat Tuukka Rask with. It was a crushing blow with just 2:34 to play. While the Bruins got a point, it was pretty clear there was no way they were going to win the game, not with how they’ve been playing lately. After Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley capped off their return to Boston with shootout goals, the latest Boston setback was complete.
“Bad change on the tying goal; real bad change,” Julien added after the game. “So it’s not just young guys, it’s good players, it’s everybody right now. So we’re, like I said, we’re not playing well right now and we’re finding ways to lose versus finding ways to win.”
What the Bruins have to hope, of course, is that this dip is only temporary. It’s lasting longer than anyone in black and gold would like it to last, no doubt, but the fact remains that there’s still plenty of season left. That probably doesn’t even need to be said in the first week of November come to think of it.
“I think every team goes through these all year because of the number of games that you have,” Julien said. “So basically it’s one of those things that we’re going through right now and the only thing that you can take is I know we’ve worked out way out of it. And sometimes when you get tired enough of losing, you react, and that’s what you hope the guys are going to do here very soon.”
The track record for teams not in playoff contention when Thanksgiving rolls around certainly isn’t encouraging. So while it’s still early, the Bruins also must know it can get late quick. So while it’s not yet time to panic, it is time for Julien’s club to start finding some ways to win.
“When times are tough, times are tough. You don’t play well and then when you do get something going your way, it doesn’t go in. A little bit of confidence and a little bit of swagger is what we need right now but we have to work our way out of this thing.”