BOSTON — After stealing a big win just two nights ago, the Bruins folded against one of the Eastern Conference's bottom-feeders when they fell to the Panthers 1-0 on Thursday night at the TD Garden.
Such inconsistent play has been the theme of this year's Bruins squad and it's eating away at two guys who have been around the rink for quite some time: winger Mark Recchi and head coach Claude Julien.
The good news? In just a few short weeks, the bleeding could and likely will stop if the Black and Gold, who have yet to clinch playoff spot, keep up their erratic play.
"To me, it’s more frustrating than anything else," Julien said. "We had an opportunity here to make some room for ourselves and we didn’t. … I don’t care, we can’t stand here and feel sorry for ourselves and say, 'We tried our best, and we couldn’t score.' We have to basically say, 'We got to find a way to score goals.' If we want to win hockey games, we’re going to have to score goals and we’re going to have to get them around the net and have a little bit more composure."
It was Julien who feared his squad would lay an egg Thursday night and sure enough, he was right. Prior to the contest, the skipper struck an ominous tone: "We win a game in [New] Jersey," he said, "and we’re real happy with the effort and everything else. If we don’t follow up with a good effort tonight, that game is basically a write off."
So Jersey was a write off. And as Recchi points out, the Bruins can't be writing off any more games if they want to earn a trip to the postseason.
The veteran hints that some guys on this team simply aren't bringing it on a nightly basis. This was proven Thursday when they made Scott Clemmensen look more like Martin Brodeur, whom the B's beat in overtime just two
nights ago in Newark.
"I still don’t think we had 20 guys tonight, but you know, the guys that were going were generating a lot of opportunities and you got to put those in," said Recchi. "Like I said, this time of year, you need 20 guys, regardless. So that’s a little bit of a disappointment.
"It’s no secret this time of year," added Recchi, who had a game-high six shots on net. "You might not feel good, but this time of year … you have to dig deep down and do it for your teammates, do it for yourself. You have to find ways. If you’re a goal scorer and you’re not scoring goals, you've got to be physical and you've got to play great defensively. And if you’re a physical guy, then you've got to chip in at times, so there’s a whole bunch of factors that play into this. With five games remaining, I think we shouldn’t have to be talking about it, but the results are there."
Simply put: "[If] we don’t have 20 guys, we don’t win, and [if] we do, we win."
But don't think for a minute that Recchi is going to receive an earful from his skipper, who couldn't agree more as his Bruins won back-to-back games just twice in the entire month of March.
"There’s no doubt that we have some players that could have been much better for us tonight, absolutely," said Julien. "A lot of those players are the players that we need to help us get through this. So yeah, you can’t stand here and say, 'Oh, we were outstanding tonight.' We just lost a game. And had everybody been as good as they can be, we would have won this game."
With just five games remaining, the Bruins need to act fast to regroup. Now would be an easy time to point fingers, but the B's are more resilient bunch than that. Right?
"The players are on board, but some nights they’re not pushing as hard as others and we've just got to get them to push," the coach said. "Some of that has to come from inside the [locker] room. So, you’ve seen us push in the same direction in the game in New Jersey, so it’s about trying to find that. And that’s why we talk about consistency. We need that night after night."