Unlike Vancouver two weeks ago, tonight’s 2011 postseason rematch between the Bruins and Lightning in Tampa (7:30, NESN) is totally lacking in drama. The Lightning, who extended the Bruins to seven games in last spring’s Eastern Conference Finals, are dead last in the East this season.

Pointwise, the Bruins are at the other end of the spectrum. But listening to head coach Claude Julien speak Monday morning, you would hardly know it.

“Basically our whole game has slipped,” Julien said. “We’re not to the point of being a bad team, but it’s slipped to us being a very mediocre team right now. We need to bring it back to the level that’s expected of our group.”

The Bruins began a stretch of five games in seven days against the Panthers on Monday night in Sunrise, Fla., with tonight’s game against the Lightning the only one not against a top-eight team in the Eastern Conference.


Four of the five games are on the road, and the lone home game comes Saturday against the Rangers, the top seed in the East. And Saturdays have not been pretty for the Bruins lately, having dropped three straight Saturday games after their late collapse against the Hurricanes this past weekend.

That loss dropped the Bruins to 4-3 over their past seven games heading into Monday night. And that led to Julien’s tough love approach Monday.

"I don’t know what kind of game we can expect,” Julien said.

Missing sparkplug Brad Marchand for the fourth straight game Monday because of his suspension that ends tonight, the Bruins have lacked finish and focus.

“We’re falling short in certain areas," defenseman Zdeno Chara said. "We lost more battles than in previous games, and need to pay more attention to details.”

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