When the Bruins played Chicago last November, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville marveled at how the Bruins had their details worked out so early in the season. But just Monday in the locker room after Boston?s 4-3 loss to Colorado, Andrew Ference spoke of how they need to work on just that — the details.
The Bruins are off to a rocky beginning this season, but it?s been different. Last year, they spent preseason stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They had time for a ropes course and team-bonding weekend in Stowe, Vt. That?s hardly the same kind of grueling preseason schedule the team endured this year, with eight games in 12 days over six cities (including Boston) and three in a row to finish. Talk about getting off to a tiresome start.
Still, it?s quite amazing to think that David Krejci, Ference, Matt Hunwick and Marco Sturm are all fully back in game action after their injuries and subsequent surgeries. Head coach Claude Julien doesn?t like to use it as an excuse for the team?s inconsistencies, but it's only fair to say those four aren?t going to pick up exactly where they left off (though Sturm?s fairly seamless transition back to the game does carry a wow factor). Maybe it?s not glaringly evident how far these players have to go to gain their peak performance levels again, but if this game is about the details, then being one step off, or making one shaky decision, can mean the difference between winning and losing. That doesn?t just go for the guys returning from injuries, either.
No one in the locker room is worried yet. They?re just disappointed in a few outcomes thus far. Julien was last year's coach of the year for a reason, and he will find an effective way to craft the team?s development from here.
Remember, there are many put-in-your-dues-and-you-will-succeed stories on the team right now.
Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and coach Julien are reigning NHL award winners and All-Stars, along with Marc Savard.
Krejci, Milan Lucic, Mark Recchi, Byron Bitz, and Thomas have new contracts, and there have been several promotions and contract extensions for the management staff.
There are four players who managed to return from major surgeries and were actually ready to play on opening night.
Young Tuukka Rask finally cracked the big club roster, and Johnny Boychuk opened the season on an NHL roster for the first time in his six years as a pro.
Combine all that with newcomers who get the luxury of playing on an upswing franchise. They all worked hard to get here, and certainly know what it takes to be good, be great and be a Bruin.
The pieces are in place. It?s a long haul to the finish line, and as every hockey-adoring person would agree, Oct. 13 is part of a larger picture of still being around in June.