We are still 10 days from Christmas and the Bruins have 52 games left in the regular season so it seems silly to start to panic and worry about the standings. Then again, the Bruins’ 3-2 shootout loss to Ottawa on Saturday afternoon was yet another example of their season-long, debilitating goal-scoring issue. The B’s (15-13-2) fell to 1-4-1 in their last six games and they have been held to two or less goals in seven out of their last nine games. This freefall has caused them to tumble down the Atlantic Division ladder, where now they reside in fifth-place, one point ahead of Florida (which has played three less games). If the postseason started today, they would be the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien called their performance in the matinee vs. Ottawa (12-12-5) “average.” Those are the type of games that Boston needs to win, particularly as it enters a three-game road trip this week (they are 6-7-0 away from TD Garden this season).
“We are still struggling to score goals but there are a lot of other things that could be better,” Julien said. “We didn’t move the puck in the back end very well.”
Julien refused to make David Krejci’s hip injury an excuse as it is hard to explain how one player’s prolonged absence could ruin an entire team’s collective confidence and psyche.
After they surprisingly fired head coach Paul MacLean last week, the Senators entered Saturday’s game just 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. What’s more, Boston blew not one but two leads on home ice (where they had been 9-6-1). Some positives coming out of their first shootout loss of the season included Craig Cunningham’s first NHL goal (shorthanded) and Loui Eriksson finding the back of the net. Frustrating parts for the Bruins were the fact that they had a 3-on-1 for the second straight game but once again didn’t manage to get a shot off.
Milan Lucic is currently on a makeshift line with Chris Kelly and Cunningham but he helped bring some emotion to Boston with only his second fighting major of the season. Ottawa defenseman Mark Borowiecki took a run at Lucic in the corner (causing his helmet to pop off) so he responded by pounding him into the ice. Fighting has been mostly been phased out of the NHL and even the Bruins’ arsenal, but clearly moments like that inspire the fans and Lucic’s teammates.
“We can’t wait much longer to turn things around,” noted Lucic. “We have five games until Christmas break, so we have to get going.”
Julien and Lucic both felt like Boston doesn’t necessarily have to make a trade to infuse some offense into a team that has completely lost its way without Krejci – the top line center. Still, you have to wonder how many more sub-par games Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli can watch before he pulls the trigger on a deal. It feels like without some sort of shakeup that the B’s are destined for a first-round exit in the playoffs and their aim is always way higher than that. The Bruins are in Nashville on Tuesday, Minnesota on Wednesday and Winnipeg on Friday before returning home on Sunday to take on Buffalo.