|03.16.12 at 11:38 pm ET|
The Bruins fell into seventh place in the Eastern Conference Friday night, something that would have seemed impossible back in late December when the Bruins were dominating teams left and right.
Yet for as good as the Bruins were back in December (a nine-point lead in the Northeast Division and just three regulation losses over a two-month span), their horrid play of late has been enough to undo their good standing in both the division and the conference. The Senators haven’t needed to play well (10-10-3 over their last 23 games) to catch Boston, but they overtook the division Friday night with an overtime win over the Canadiens.
On Friday, the Bruins held an hour-long skate to try to get their legs going for Saturday’s game. They know that when they take on the Flyers, they won’t just be trying to break a season-worst four-game losing streak, but trying to get back in front of the Senators.
“If you ask anyone and [they say] they don’t know what the standings are, they’re lying to you,” Chris Kelly said after the practice. “Obviously, we know where we stand and where other teams stand. All we can do is focus on ourselves and the games we have coming up.”
It wasn’t too long ago that the Bruins were using the standings for motivation. They woke up on November 1 in last place in the Eastern Conference after a wretched October. The defending champs didn’t like it where they stood, so they did something about it by going 21-3-1 for the rest of 2011.
This slump is much worse than anything that happened in the first month of the season (3-7-0). This isn’t some ugly 10-game stretch to open the season, but a two-and-a-half-month-long collapse. They’ve given up five goals in three consecutive games, and have allowed six in their last two.
“To give up six goals in back-to-back games, that’s not the definition of this hockey team. I think we’re a good, sound hockey team, especially in our own end,” Kelly said. “That hasn’t shown in the last few games.”
The Bruins’ mistakes have been clear. Take the Panthers’ fifth goal Thursday for example. Kelly tried firing a pass across to Andrew Ference in the Bruins’ zone, but the pass went of Adam McQuaid‘s skate and bounced right to Tomas Kopecky in front to set up a Florida tally. The Bruins know what they’re doing wrong, but they can’t seem to keep from doing it. They’re running with just 12 games left in the regular season, they’re running out of time to figure it out.
“Obviously we’d like to [have fixed everything] after one game,” Patrice Bergeron said after Friday’s practice. “Right now it’s not happening. It’s about finding answers and not worrying about the four-game losing streak. It’s about us finding desperation and finding answers. It’s about us working hard and giving everything we’ve got on every shift and coming out on top on every shift. If we do that [every game] we’re going to be alright.”
Said Claude Julien: “You lose your identity when you lose the way [we] have been lately,” Julien said. “Any team that goes through a slump loses its identity. We understand that we have to work hard and win more battles and that comes again with the attitude. The breakdowns are kind of camouflaging the fact that we are still a pretty hard-working team, but when you don’t work smart, you don’t look like a hard-working team.”
If they don’t figure it out, the Senators will stay atop the division, while the Bruins would likely remain in seventh place, making for a regular-season collapse that would be considered unfathomable had some baseball team not just re-written the book on regular-season collapses.
The Bruins know they’re headed down a disappointing path unless they right the ship. Fixing it is their only option, assuming they can do so in time.
“It’s not really a thought right now,” Kelly said of losing the division. “We’re going to go play and see what happens.”
|03.16.12 at 4:47 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Rich Peverley skated for the third straight day Friday at Ristuccia Arena. The veteran winger then spoke to the media for the first time since suffering his knee injury last month.
Peverley has been out since Feb. 15, when a knee-on-knee hit from then-Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill left him with a sprained MCL in his right knee.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I’ve been skating for a couple of days, and it’s getting better every day.”
Added Peverley: “The first couple of days were kind of just getting back into it, and then today was a little bit harder, a little longer. I felt pretty good on the ice. It’s just about taking gradual steps.”
Peverley has yet to practice with teammates and said that there is currently no timetable for when that will happen. At the time of his injury, the Bruins estimated that he would miss 4-6 weeks. He hopes to make a return to the lineup before the end of the regular season.
“I think it would be tough to just go right into the playoffs,” he said. “I’d like to get in [before then], but I’m taking it day-by-day right now and [will] see where it goes.”
The 29-year-old had also been dealing with a nagging injury prior to suffering his knee injury. The team had given him practices and games off in December and January to accommodate the injury, and Peverley estimated in January that the injury might pester him throughout the season. He said Friday that the injury had gone away prior to his knee injury, and that it is no longer bothering him.
“It went away when I was still playing, so I dealt with it in different areas, and it was a lot better,” he said. “It wasn’t bothering me at all.”
Peverley added that it’s been difficult to watch the Bruins, who have lost four straight.
“It’s tough,” he said. “You want to win games even if you’re not playing — you’re part of a team. Every team has its ups and downs during the year. It’s no different. Hopefully we can get out of this slump soon.”
|03.16.12 at 2:58 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins flew in from Florida Friday morning after a disappointing road trip that saw them drop games to the Penguins, Lightning and Panthers. Having now lost four in a row, the Bruins are set to fall into seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a Senators win over the last-place Canadiens Friday night.
Despite their busy schedule, the B’s still held practice Friday. They took the ice at around 2:35 p.m. at Ristuccia Arena, with all players present. Rich Peverley skated by himself prior to the practice but did not join his teammates. Peverley has been skating since Wednesday.
|03.15.12 at 10:10 pm ET|
The Bruins set the table for the Senators to knock them into seventh place, falling to the Panthers, 6-2, Thursday in Sunrise, Fla.
The B’s have lost four straight games, which makes for their longest losing streak of the season. Their lead in the Northeast Division is down to one point, and the Senators will have a chance to leapfrog the Bruins when they host the last-place Canadiens Friday.
The Senators jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Mickael Samuelsson and Marcel Goc in the first two periods. Joe Corvo brought the B’s within one with his fourth goal of the year, but second-period tallies from Stephen Weiss and John Madden gave the Panthers a three-goal lead entering the third period. Brian Rolston scored his first goal since coming back to the Bruins when he beat Jose Theodore at 1:44 of the third period with a power-play goal. Later in the period, a Chris Kelly pass that went off Zdeno Chara‘s foot bounced right onto the stick of Tomas Kopecky, with the Panthers forward slamming it home to make it a 5-2 game. Wojtek Wolski made it a half-dozen for Florida.
Tim Thomas played in his 11th straight game, allowing all six Panthers goals and taking the loss. He has allowed at least three goals in five of his last six starts.
The B’s return to action Saturday at TD Garden, hosting the Flyers.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
— Brad Marchand has remained whisper quiet for the B’s, as the second-line winger has just a goal and an assist over his last 10 games. The Bruins need to get a lot of their guys going, and Marchand’s right at the top of that list. Between the injuries and the fact that the B’s are in a race for the division, now isn’t the time for Marchand to cool off.
— Thursday marked the seventh consecutive game in which the Bruins allowed the first goal, and 10th time in their last 12 games. They have also allowed the first two goals in four straight games. If the Bruins want to start winning games, playing from behind isn’t exactly the key.
— Along those same lines, the first period has been rough for the Bruins of late. The second period seemed to be the team’s Achilles’ heel for a stretch, but the B’s have been outscored 14-3 in the first period over their last seven games.
— While Jordan Caron played well skating on the first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, the other two did not. Krejci and Lucic failed to register a shot on goal on the night, while Caron put two pucks on net and saw his hard work along the boards result in Rolston’s goal. Caron certainly has been strong for the Bruins of late, but the problem is that few have joined him.
— This losing streak has been bad enough for the B’s, but you’d have to go back over two years to January of 2010 to find the last time the Bruins went four straight games without a single point.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
— The months of November and December.
|03.15.12 at 5:38 pm ET|
The Bruins signed a goaltender Thursday, but not one who will help them this season.
General manager Peter Chiarelli announced Thursday that the team has inked Adam Morrison of the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants. The 21-year-old Morrison will stay in the WHL through the regular season and playoffs.
A third-round pick of the Flyers in the 2009 draft, Morrison is 35-17-3 with a 2.80 goals-against average and .900 save percentage with one shutout this season.
|03.15.12 at 12:06 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters in Florida Thursday that forward Rich Peverley, who has been out since Feb. 15 with an MCL sprain, returned to the ice Wednesday in Boston for the first time since suffering his injury.
Peverley was expected to miss 4-6 weeks at the time of the injury. In 49 games this season, he has nine goals and 29 assists for 38 points.
Julien also said that Tim Thomas will be the starting goaltender Thursday vs. the Panthers. Thomas has played in 10 consecutive games, but has played 20 minutes or less in each of the last two Bruins contests.
|03.13.12 at 10:05 pm ET|
The Bruins came one step closer to surrendering their lead in the Northeast Division, getting shelled by the Lightning, 6-1, Tuesday night in Tampa.
With the loss, the Bruins’ third in a row, the B’s remain at 83 points — just two points ahead of the Senators, who will face the last-place Canadiens Wednesday night.
With Tim Thomas having played in the last nine games for the Bruins, backup Marty Turco was given his first start as a member of the team, but three quick Lightning goals from Tom Pyatt, Nate Thompson and Ryan Shannon in a matter of 4:31 led to the B’s yanking Turco in favor of Thomas. Turco returned to the game 3:06 into the second period after Steven Stamkos made it 5-0. Thomas also allowed an unassisted goal to Victor Hedman late in the first period.
The Bruins finally got on the board 1:55 into the third period, when a Johnny Boychuk shot went off Jordan Caron in front and past Lightning goaltender Dustin Tokarski. Stamkos made it 6-1 in the first with his NHL-leading 50th goal of the season.
The current Bruins’ three-game losing streak is their longest since October, when they lost to the Sharks before dropping back-to-back games against the Canadiens. The B’s will look to stop their skid Thursday in Florida.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
Where to begin’¦
– Tuesday was the latest bit of evidence that people shouldn’t be getting too carried away with David Krejci’s offensive production. The first-line center was on the ice for all four of the Lightning’s first-period goals, making it 13 goals against he’s been on the ice for over the last eight games.
– Patrice Bergeron left the game again with lower body pain, blocking a shot early in the third period — on the very shift that Caron scored — though he did return minutes later. The Bruins need points, but they also need to be cautious with their best players. Bergeron is without question their best forward, so if they need to sit him for a few games to ensure he’s OK for the postseason, they should.
– The B’s wanted to get Thomas rest, so it was a no-brainer to give Turco the start. What didn’t make too much sense was yanking Turco after the first three goals. The logic behind the move is obvious, as the B’s actually need the points, and Claude Julien wanted to see if the B’s could make a game of it with Thomas between the pipes. Still, the game appeared to be lost at the time Thomas went in, so the B’s were better off giving Thomas the whole night off.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– While the Bruins have struggled, Caron has kept up his pace of late. Caron’s goal made for his eighth point over his last six games (four goals, four assists).
– After managing only two shots on goal in the first period, the B’s outshot the Lightning, 20-7, the rest of the way. Shots on goal can be a deceiving stat, of course, and that was most definitely the case Tuesday.