Julien: Bruins have been 'very mediocre'

572848.jpg

Julien: Bruins have been 'very mediocre'

SUNRISE, FL. The Bruins have been very mediocre in the words of Claude Julien, and theyre determined to get back to their brand of hockey.

Boston's struggles have been masked by its winning ways over the last few weeks, but its problems all came to a head when the Bs collapsed in the third period Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Now the Bruins face the Panthers, a legitimate playoff team with a grudge.

Why the grudge? Hockey teams usually take it personally when they get gut bludgeoned by an 8-0 score two days before Christmas like the Bruins pounded the Panthers at TD Garden, and now Florida entertains a Boston team attempting to find their footing. The Bruins will also be without Brad Marchand (suspension) and Rich Peverley (personal matter) at the BankAtlantic Center, and could be in for a tough night if theyre not ready to play.

Were falling short in certain areas," Zdeno Chara said. "We lost more battles than in previous games, and need to pay more attention to details. We knew that Carolina wasnt our best game and we need to bounce back. We have a few games before the All-Star break and we want to go out with some wins. We know theyre really good at home. They have a very hard style. We have to be ready to do our thing, work extremely hard and not take anything fore granted.

We played really well in the last game and Florida didnt have a great night. Im sure theyre going to be way better tonight.

The Bs coach was a little more succinct about what he didnt see against the Hurricanes, and what he wants to see against the Panthers on Monday night.

We need to be sharper in all areas. Our battle level has to be better. Our passing and willingness to take pucks to the net need improvement, said Julien. Basically our whole game has slipped. Were not to the point of being a bad team, but its slipped to us being a very mediocre team right now. We need to bring it back to the level thats expected of our group.

Strong words from the Bs coach that will only get stronger if theyre not followed up by a more typical effort from the Bruins in Florida on Monday night.

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

When trying to figure out what the Patriots will ultimately do with Jimmy Garoppolo, forget about the speculation and instead focus on the little things the team does. 

Like how they are tending to Jacoby Brissett. 

After having thumb surgery on Oct. 7, Brissett was put on IR. But the team used its one "Get off of IR free card" on Brissett and he's been practicing with the team for the past couple of weeks while not taking up a roster spot. 

That alone isn't compelling evidence that he's the backup-in-waiting and Garoppolo's about to be packed up and shipped out, argued my compadre, Senator Phil Perry. The team had no other players on IR that they could use the designation on at the time. Why not use it on Brissett?

Prior to that, though, we've seen Brissett accompanying the team to away games including the cross-country junket to San Francisco. A reason? Since the Patriots played three straight at Gillette at the start of the season when Brissett was the direct backup to Garoppolo, he didn't get a good look at the road operation and the tempo of being the visiting team. How things work on flights, in meetings, at opposing stadiums and on the sidelines is worth getting a promising young players' eyes on. Also, getting his offensive teammates used to having him around is probably an even bigger benefit. It's not unprecedented to have IR players travel but its not conventional practice either. 

With so many quarterback-needy teams around the league, Garoppolo is perhaps the most attractive option out there. By the end of this year, he will have apprenticed three seasons behind the best quarterback of all-time in a sophisticated offense for a program that's as demanding as any in the league. In the 10 quarters he was able to play as a starter in place of Tom Brady, he was sensational.

He got hurt and that's not great. But any team making a deal for him that has concerns about his durability can take him for a spin for one season. Garoppolo is on the books for $825K in 2017 and then his contract is up. The team that dealt for him can franchise him if they need another season to think on it. 

I don't think the Patriots are itching to move Garoppolo. They know they are sitting comfortably with a stack of the most valuable commodity in the sport -- good quarterbacks (or at least one great one and two promising ones) - piled in front of them. They can let the game come to them. 

If it does, as former Patriots executive and Bill Belichick consigliere Mike Lombardi thinks it will, the Patriots can rest easy dealing Garoppolo knowing that they already did advance work getting Brissett up to speed.