Haggerty: Bruins know November is key

Haggerty: Bruins know November is key
November 1, 2011, 6:02 am
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WILMINGTON Gregory Campbell and presumably the rest of his Bruins teammates are happy that the month of October is finally over.

Its a long season, however, we see how short it all becomes. Its amazing how important each game is and how difficult it is to climb back in the standings, said Campbell. Fortunately for us October is over, and we can close the door and move on from it.

The Bruins limped out to a 3-7 start in the defense of their Stanley Cup, and have been the poster-children for inconsistency and out-of-control emotion after perfectly walking the fine line last season. Its been well documented that the Bruins are saddled in last place in the Eastern Conference and are among the bottom of the Eastern Conference teams with a minus-3 goal differential -- a far cry from last seasons 5-on-5 dominance throughout the league.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated last week he was working the phones for potential trades, and admitted those conversations kicked up in frequency and intensity as he watched his teams game go south. But hes not ready to bust up a Stanley Cup winning team with a seismic trade of a key player, and is in many ways stuck in the same post-Cup limbo the players keep trying to break through.

Add to that a lack of NHL teams willing to significantly alter their roster less than a month into the season, and the Bruins look to bring the same cast of characters into November with at least a few more weeks to turn things around. The Bruins are well aware of the league stats facing them as they already sit six points outside of the top eight East teams rounded out by the Sabres and Lightning.

The Bruins have 10 games leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, and recent NHL history has shown that teams in the top eight in either conference have a 77.5 percent chance of making the playoffs. Those outside of the top eight have only a 22.5 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason, and teams more than two or three points outside of the top eight are usually too far back in the standings.

Six of those 10 games leading up to Thanksgiving are against Northeast Division foes, and the improvement across the board in Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto is another season-long challenge for a Bruins team searching for a foothold.

Ten games in we should be getting back to form and feeling good about ourselves, said Milan Lucic. There shouldnt be any excuses at this point in the season. We have to take it upon ourselves to figure it out.

Lucic is aware of all the statistics, and he doesnt want the Bruins to follow in the unfortunate path of last years New Jersey Devils team. The Devils couldnt get untracked early in the season under a new coaching staff, but caught fire in the second half once they made a coaching change. Jersey made the coaching change once their record sat at an NHL-worst 9-22-2, and the Bruins are still another disastrous month away from suffering the same fate.

Its difficult to see the Bruins floundering that badly with a healthy team that was good enough to win the Cup, but Milan Lucic is still determined to help the Bruins avoid a similar fate. Nobody inside the Bs dressing room wants the Black and Gold to turn into a Stanley Cup cautionary tale.

There is adversity you have to face throughout the season, and for us thats obviously right now, said Lucic. Weve got to figure it out quickly. I know its only been 10 games, but how many teams have had starts like this and theyve never been able to recover.

Look at Jersey last year, who finished off as the best team after January and they werent able to recover for a playoff spot. You can reflect on this and see what happens down the road, but we need to do everything we can to get out of this hole as quickly as possible. Were going to have to do this as a team and a group effort. Its the only way we can do this together.

The Bruins are saying all of the right things, and they have right examples at the ready for bad starts gone very wrong in the NHL. But the path to getting back into the playoff picture this month is paved with a string of wins, and that upward conference movement begins with a chance against an Ottawa team thats won six games in a row headed into Tuesday nights must have at the Garden.