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Bruins need a Sunday rebound from past-Sharks hangover

03.22.09 at 12:23 pm ET

I selfishly refuse to give WEEI flash guy — and puck enthusiast — Pete Sheppard any credit after swiping his “psychologically damaged” theory and applying it to the Bruins’ play over the last two months.

But I truly believe what I wrote about weeks ago and said again during a segment with Mike Giardi on NECN’s “Sports Late Night” Saturday night.

The Black and Gold haven’t been the same confident, brash, bad to the bone hockey bunch since the San Jose Sharks stormed into Boston for a nationally-hyped “Best vs. the Best” game in early February and simply dropped the Bruins in the dust during an eye-opening third period. The game certainly didn’t provide a blue print to beat the Bruins because A) there aren’t many other teams with the personnel that the Sharks employ to exploit a team like the Bruins and B) there isn’t a lot of credence in “figuring out” a team’s system and beating them because of it.

It’s not about the systems — as it might be in football — but it’s more about the players’ talent level, their willingness to buy into said system and their adherence to disciplined hockey while also utilizing the requisite amount of blood and guts passion. It’s something Bruins fans haven’t seen much of lately as the B’s were treading water in February (6-4-3) and have really stumbled in the merry month of March (3-5-1).

Following that Sharks tilt on Feb. 10, the Bruins have sputtered to a 6-8-3 record and haven’t been able to capture their past puck mojo for more than a game or two at a time. There were — at points — a couple of back-to-back blowout wins that seemed to signal the Big Bad B’s were back, but they haven’t been able to sustain it. 

Perhaps the stunning defeat to the Sharks caused some of the young players to start questioning their respective games, and caused them to wonder just how good this hockey team really is — a pair of questions that everyone will have much clearer answers to following this afternoon’s tilt vs. Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils.

The Bruins need to start putting the fear back into opponents looking to get the upper hand against a squad that Boston enforcer Shawn Thornton has called “team tough” throughout the hockey season — a fear and intimidation factor that’s now clearly missing when teams like the Coyotes and Kings are able to pull out victories during an…ahem…March playoff drive.

“I’ve said it all along that adversity is something we had to go through during the year, and it’s just a matter of how we get out of it,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We need to get our focus back by staying sharp and alert — and then we need to bring our passion back. (Sunday’s game against the Devils) is a game that everybody knows what is at stake, and how good they’re playing. It’s a challenge and we’ve been answering the bell all year. I think we’re ready for this one, and we know exactly what we’re up against.”

With your moment of hockey zen from Bergeron over with, here’s Saturday Night Hockey Talk with Mike Giardi. It’s not quite Coach’s Corner with Don Cherry, but I can go pick up some fabric from the curtain store, fashion myself a pin-striped zuit suit and try to channel Grapes again next time I’m on the air:

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