RALEIGH, N.C. Claude Julien and several of the Bruins players had been sounding off the warning sirens and caution alarms over the last two weeks.
Bad habits are creeping into the Bruins overall game and pulling them away from near perfection.
Breakout passes are getting sloppy, the action is getting a little too chaotic in their own zone and battles are being lost directly in front of their own net. Its been pretty difficult to miss.
Things have been creeping in the last three or four games, and tonight they bit us, said Patrice Bergeron. It hurt us. Were aware of it. I guess thats the good thing. But weve got to open our eyes and realize we need to play for 60 minutes and be consistent if we want to win.
Worst of all the ever-consistent Bruins arent putting together carbon copy efforts for the 60 full minutes in games, and instead theyre a hockey club overly reliant on an uncanny ability to pull things out in the third period.
Those final period triumphs were allowing the Bs to bank the two points in games they were winning ugly, and so the danger signs went unheeded and unattended. The Bs strolled into Carolina squaring off against an Eastern Conference cellar dweller, and leave Canes Country wondering what happened.
Instead of getting away once again with all of the inconsistencies and gaffes in execution it all came crashing down on the Bruins in a 4-2 loss at the RBC Center.
The Bruins dropped to 0-3 on the season against the Canes, and limped through one of the few lackluster third periods of the entire season. There wasnt much surprise or tremendous anger in the Bs dressing room after the defeat, but instead a resolve that issues need to be ironed out.
Weve talked about that since the Christmas break we havent really put together full 60 minute efforts when you take the Calgary game out of it, said Milan Lucic. It was eventually going to catch up to us. The goal to tie it had eyes before it went in.
But its unfortunate that we had to give up six points this season to the Hurricanes. Weve got to be better no matter who the opponent is.
There was little speed or extra burst to Bostons game, and the contest finished with the Bs on the short end of the registered hits battle, 18-14, in a rare sign of indifference to the physical game. The Hurricanes allowed the Bs to fire off 35 shots on net with everything coming from the perimeter. Normally staunch defenders like Dennis Seidenberg and Gregory Campbell were getting pushed all over the ice, and both finished minus-2 for the night.
As Claude Julien so aptly put it, the Bruins were getting beat at their own game by a team with little to lose.
Weve talked about finding ways to win when things are going well, but tonight we found a way to lose, said Julien. We had control of the gamenot that it was our best game. But we still felt we had a certain control and we had the lead. But we got knocked off the puck too much tonight.
They got it back and they made sure they knew that to do with it. I give them a lot of credit because I thought they played a really good game. They played with a lot of energy and they certainly had more than we did. We didnt seem to have the energy that we normally have. Weve got to get used to this kind of schedule.
On paper the first game of a four-game road trip against a team way out of playoff contention should have had trap written all over it. The Bruins stepped way too predictably into the pitfall.
Oddly enough things seemed like they were going to work out once again for the Black and Gold when Milan Lucic grabbed a loose puck and snapped a high wrister over Cam Wards shoulder for the go-ahead goal to start the third period.
But Cam Ward was able to turn aside a Daniel Paille scoring bid on the shift following Lucics goal, and the Bs domain the third period suddenly became winning time for the hungry, hungry Hurricanes.
A knuckling Justin Faulk shot managed to skip by Seidenbergs head before escaping Tim Thomas, and the Bs netminder never saw Jay Harrisons game-winning goal from the left point through heavy traffic. An empty-netter followed almost immediately and that was that.
It was nearly impossible for the Bruins to heed the ominous signs of a hockey club slipping into inconsistency seriously when the wins were still rolling through the zamboni door. But perhaps now that theyve been humbled by a Canes team that simply wanted it more and a team that seems to have their number the lessons will be accepted with a little more gravity.
The Bruins are viewed by the rest of the NHL as the Stanley Cup champs and the hottest team in hockey over the last three months. Saturday night was just a sample of the wallop that every teams best punch has cocked and ready to deliver. The Bruins need to match that emotion rather than lament the quality of the ice or the puck bounces enjoyed by the opposition.
Excuses are for losers and the Bruins are definitely not in that category. Its just been a long time since they were so clearly the lesser team as they were in Carolina when it came to winning or losing time in the final period.