TAMPA, Fla. The Bruins are either falling into a very troubling pattern, or living out the definition of hockey insanity.
The Bs are losing in the same confounding ways game after game, and its difficult to see that theyre taking any lessons from the piling losses. Theyve now dropped five of their eight games in March, and are in the midst of their first three-game losing streak since October, after getting spanked, 6-1, by the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night.
The Bruins looked tired and lethargic, and its hard not to see it as a second, more prolonged, Stanley Cup hangover period. Coach Claude Julien admitted after the game that fatigue is probably the biggest issue facing a team thats progressively dropped in the standings over the last month.
The fatigue factor is most glaringly obvious with 37-year-old Tim Thomas flailing away between the pipes, but its a malady that seems to be affecting the entire roster from top to bottom.
The thing that keeps coming up right now and the thing I can sense is that fatigue is setting in, said Julien of a team that has played a lot of hockey over the last two seasons. Its the biggest challenge I have now. Were not playing well and youve got the fatigue factor, too.
But its not as much the final results as the way theyre losing. For the fourth time in the last six games, the Bruinssimply werent ready to play when the opening puck was dropped andfell behind 2-0 in the first period.
This time it was a couple of strange goals allowed by Marty Turco in the first 2 12 minutes of the first period.Then the penalty kill broke down and allowed Ryan Shannon to get behind their entire group of defenders before a stretch pass connected with him for a successful partial breakaway. At that point Turco was pulled from the game in favor of Thomas, but the game was essentially already lost.
After the defeat the Bruins were collectively shaking their heads about another bad start, and looking for answers. Zdeno Chara said it comes down to a mental mindset and a decision to show a little more resolve when the team is getting punched in the face.
We were down two or three goals right away and thats a tough situation, said Chara. Its something we need to be better at, and its not happening right now. We can say whatever we want about the bounces, but there are no excuses. We just have to be better.
The Bs captain said his team needs to start the game with appropriate snap, crackle and pop, rather than waiting to get punched in the face by the opposition with a scoreboard barrage or get snapped out of their daze with a timeout from their coach. Right now the Bruins seem to responding rather than being the aggressor, and thats unlike the Black and Golds normal way of doing business.
It seems good in the room before the games. Everybody is focused. But we have to be more aware of things on the ice at the beginning, said Chara. It seems like we need to get mad when they score a goal. We need to play right away the way we can without getting scored on or taking a timeout.
Some of the mental mistakes and physical errors and even the lack of focus when it comes to putting together three consistent periods can be attributable to fatigue thats running rampant throughout the team. Some of the negative results can be chalked up to rookies and journeyman playing key roles as injuries mount.
But there has to be a point where pride and anger kick in, where the Bruins start to realize they are more than what they've become this season. The Bs could go from Stanley Cup champs to the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference in the blink of an eye.
Its time for the Bs to learn from some of the mistakes they keep repeating, and stop a vicious cycle that has them pointed into a downward spiral.