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The Cup Final Hangover Has Finally Hit: Bruins Report Card vs Senators

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The Stanley Cup Final hangover has finally hit the Boston Bruins as they have now lost three straight games and two straight in regulation following a 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa Monday night. Since a 5-4 loss at Montreal on November 5, the Bruins are just 3-8-4 in the first period and constantly playing come-from-behind hockey. They were able to overcome that and maintain a 13-game point streak from November 10-December 5, but it’s clear now that the Bruins need to put a halt to the lack of urgency that has plagued them for over a month now. Luckily for them, they still lead the Florida Panthers by eleven points for first place in the Atlantic Division and thanks to the Washington Capitals also falling 5-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday night, the Bruins trail the Caps by just three points for the Eastern Conference lead.

Talk Is Cheap

The Bruins have been a broken record for the last two weeks, preaching a focus on urgency and starting games stronger, but really haven’t backed up their talk yet. Monday in Ottawa was actually worse than some of the recent bad starts as the Bruins allowed goals in the first 1:35 of each of the first two periods. The Senators’ third goal by Chris Tierney 1:21 into the second period was a backbreaker as the Bruins had cut the Sens’ lead in half with 2:12 left in the first period thanks to Patrice Bergeron’s ninth goal of the season in his first game back after missing seven-straight due to a lower-body injury.

“I don’t think we started playing until — the urgency level wasn’t there for the entire group until we got down again,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told NESN after the game. “That’s something we’ve been addressing of late, obviously we’re going to have to continue to. That’s an area of concern. We mismanaged some pucks. Maybe a lack of effort to keep it out of our net on a couple plays and all of a sudden you’re down 2-3 goals and it’s over.”

Playing Behind Creating Doubt

The aforementioned Tierney goal was the direct result of what can only be considered an epic brain fart by Tuukka Rask. Rask came out behind the net to play the net, lacked awareness of the play coming down on him and coughed the puck up to Duclair. Duclair knocked it over to Vladislav Namestnikov who found Tierney in the slot for the easy goal.

Following the game, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug didn’t call just Rask out, but rather himself and the whole team, saying they’re early lack of focus is leading to a lack of trust and communication on the ice.

“We’ve turned it into not trusting each other to make the right play,” Krug said. “We’re hanging onto pucks for a little bit too long and we’re playing one-on-one hockey instead of realizing we have the man advantage. Zip the puck around, when you get the open shot, we’ll collect the rebounds, that’s what we do well. All of a sudden those nice plays open up. We just gotta move the puck a little bit quicker and be more decisive.”

Bergeron Lone Bright Spot In Return

Bergeron just never misses a beat. Following his last absence – which was just two games – Bergeron had an assist in his first game back and four helpers in the next game before missing another seven games. Monday he was right where he was supposed to be to finish off a classic ‘Perfection Line’ tic-tac-toe up ice with a one-timer. Bergeron finished the game at a minus-1 with a goal in 23 shifts and 21:43 TOI. He went 16-9 at the dot and had one blocked shot.

Bruins Make Sure To Remember Frates

As they always are, the Bruins were pure class even in defeat as players made sure to open every postgame scrum by paying tribute to the founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and a tireless advocate for curing the horrible disease, Pete Frates. The former Boston College baseball star, who has become the local and a national face in the fight against ALS, passed away Monday at the age of 34.

With over 18 years of experience (SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, ESPNBoston, NESN, NHL.com, etc.) covering the Bruins, the NHL, NCAA and junior hockey and more, Jimmy Murphy’s hockey black book is full of Hall of Famers, current players, coaches, management, scouts and a wide array of hockey media personalities that have lived in and around this great game. For 15 of his 18 years as a hockey and sports reporter, Murph covered the Bruins on essentially a daily basis covering their victorious 2011 Stanley Cup run and their 2013 run to the Final as well. Murphy has hosted national and local radio shows and podcasts and also has experience in TV as well.

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