After Friday's 6-1 loss to the Red Wings at the Garden, Bruins center David Krejci felt that as frustrating as the defeat was, it was a learning experience that could benefit the team in the long run if they heeded the lessons it offered.
"It's a good thing that it came at this time of the year and not in the playoffs," Krejci said. "We've really got to learn from it."
The Bruins appear to be slow learners. Actually, compared to the speedy Wings, they just appeared slow.
Boston had some jump early, striking first in the rematch in Detroit on Sunday. But the skilled Wings were simply too much for the Bruins to handle once again, as they completed the sweep of the home-and-home series with a 4-2 victory.
The Bruins are now just 3-7-2 against the Western Conference this season. They've lost two straight in regulation for the first time since mid-December and for a team that has made strong defensive play its calling card, allowing 16 goals in the last three games has to be disconcerting.
Tim Thomas has given up 11 of those goals in seven periods of action, as his historic numbers this season have taken their first serious hit. He wasn't to fault on Sunday, however, as he actually kept the Bruins in the game with a string of big saves after Boston's early burst wore off and the Red Wings seized control of the game.
Thomas didn't get a lot of help from the guys in front of him. Like they did in front of Tuukka Rask on Friday, the Bruins were guilty of far too many breakdowns and miscues. Ill-timed pinches led to a number of odd-man breaks, while giveaways created other opportunities.
Todd Bertuzzi benefited the most from both trends as he had his second straight two-goal game against the Bruins. He scored Detroit's first goal after Brad Marchand turned over the puck with a blind backhand pass deep in his own zone, and added the clincher as he finished a nice feed from Johan Franzen on 2-on-1 break with the Bruins caught up ice late in the third.
Kris Draper also scored what proved to be the game-winner when Tyler Seguin didn't stay with his man on the backcheck, allowing Draper to get behind the defense for a chance all alone in on Thomas.
That goal capped a dominant second period by the Wings, who scored the only two goals in the frame and outshot Boston 19-6 in that period. The Wings kicked their game into another gear, while the Bruins were stuck in neutral.
Bruins coach Claude Julien tried to spark his team with a pair of lineup changes. He reinserted Seguin into the lineup after making him a healthy scratch the previous two games. He replaced fellow rookie Zach Hamill, who was returned to Providence after the game.
Seguin scored the game's first goal for just his second point in his last 12 games, but otherwise didn't show much improvement from the struggles that got him benched in the first place. Seguin was a minus-1 in 13:16, and was just 1-12 on faceoffs in addition to the defensive breakdown that cost Boston a goal.
Julien's other move was to put Mark Stuart back in the lineup after being scratched for the last eight games. Stuart showed little rust as he was the only Bruin to finish a plus at plus-1 with two hits and a blocked shot, but played just 13:34.
Getting Stuart back into the blue-line rotation wasn't a bad idea, but sitting rookie Steven Kampfer to make room won't be a popular decision, as the Michigan native had over 40 friends and family on hand to see what they had hoped would be his professional debut in his home state. Kampfer's play has slipped a bit of late after a great start with the big club when he was recalled in December, but it's hard to see the benefits of sitting him in a game that meant so much to him, especially since his mobility certainly could have helped against a team like Detroit.
The one thing Kampfer's surprise scratch should certainly illustrate is that the Bruins recognize that the rookie is not ready to carry the load as Boston's primary puck-mover on the blue line at this stage of his career. Adding more of that element to the defense has to be priority No. 1 for the Bruins at the trade deadline.
Julien tried just about every move available to him as a coach, and it wasn't enough to compete against Detroit. Now it's up to management to make the necessary moves to put the Bruins in a position to match up with the true elite teams in the league.