Bruins send out search party for missing 'killer instinct'

Bruins send out search party for missing 'killer instinct'
March 7, 2013, 2:00 pm
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(AP Images)

BOSTON -- It’s rebound time for the Boston Bruins after suffering back-to-back losses where the team collapsed in the third period against the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals.

The Bruins still hold a 20-11 scoring advantage over their counterparts in the final 20 minutes of games this season, but some troubling trends have crept into the two straight losses. Boston can’t finish off golden scoring chances that would effectively step on their opponent’s throat, and the defense from the neutral zone in toward the front of the net has been erratic at best.

“We’re built in a way where we need everybody to contribute every night. That’s something that each one of us can control,” said Milan Lucic. “With a day off yesterday you got a chance to talk about holding two 3-2 leads going into the third period where we’ve been so good.

“We don’t manage to get the job done [in either game]. You focus on that. It’s a quick turnaround, but you’ve got to learn from [those games] and get back to the good, strong game we’re used to playing. We had some odd-numbered situations where we could have put teams away and we didn’t do it. That’s one thing you have to learn during the season: develop that killer instinct to put teams away.”

Claude Julien tried to address some of those issues by switching Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk in the defensemen pairings headed into the Washington game, and the presence of Boychuk did help stabilize Andrew Ference’s game. McQuaid and Zdeno Chara were pretty rock solid when they were together out on the ice as well. But Dennis Seidenberg and Dougie Hamilton were out on the ice for the game-tying and game-winning goals against the Capitals, and addressing the leaky defense is at the top of the Bruins coaching staff’s “fix it” list.

But there still problems with finishing off scoring chances on the offensive end, and that’s conspired with the defense leaking oil to slap the Bruins with back-to-back losses.

“I think after a disappointing loss you want to get back to work,” said Claude Julien. “Our game had slipped a little bit. We’re certainly not going to deny that. We’ve got to pick up our game. There are ups and downs during the season.

I’m not saying we’re down, but we certainly have to be better in order to get back to where we’d like to be. That’s in a lot of facets of our game. When you struggle, you don’t just struggle in one area. You struggle in many [areas].”

The worry is that some of the cracks showing up in Boston’s game will be enlarged and compounded by the busy second half schedule for the Bruins over the next two months. If Bruins management doesn’t stabilize it and properly address issues like the third line and defensive zone coverage now, then they could be fatal issues down the line.

It sounds like putting Chris Bourque on waivers was the painful start of a solution-seeking process that continues with a Thursday night tilt against a Toronto club that’s just behind Boston in the standings.