The Boston Bruins are definitely in the toughest stretch of their season. They lost back-to-back regulation games for the first time this season when they dropped a 6-3 game to the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on Tuesday night, and they’ve now lost three of their last four games dating back to Connor McDavid’s visit to Boston last week.
All of the games, even Saturday’s comeback win over the Red Wings at TD Garden, featured very slow starts from the Black and Gold where they didn’t look quite ready to play out of the starting gate. In the last couple of games on the road where it’s more difficult for hockey teams to come back, it’s been a fatal flaw in their games for losses that seem uncharacteristic for this group.
“It’s our starts,” said Boston Bruins third line center Charlie Coyle “Our starts are kind of killing us. It got covered up there in that first Detroit game on Saturday because we ended up winning, so maybe you don’t think about it as much but that next game, it’s the same thing. Bad start and we’re behind the eight-ball…we pride ourselves on being a team that can come back but you can’t be doing that every night.”
Coyle expressed regret that there wasn’t more energy on Tuesday against the Blackhawks after the Boston Bruins players were given the day off from the practice ice on Monday, and Patrice Bergeron called it the team playing “disconnected” hockey. Bad habits, bad plays and “cheating” in certain situations was leaving the next group in a bad spot as they hopped over the boards, and in general the defensemen were showing weaknesses in their game that haven’t been their for the entire season.
Connor Clifton and Derek Forbort both had difficult nights and in general it seems that the D-man rotation that’s been in effect since Dmitry Orlov’s arrival has led to some chemistry struggles and more mistakes on the ice.
“We know that it’s not good enough and we need to go back to what was successful to us and what’s been good to us all year,” said Patrice Bergeron. “So, there’s a lot of things that we can learn from these past couple games.
“I think right now we’re disconnected. We’re not playing the right way…we’re cheating. I think this league is going to humble you if you do that.”
The Bruins have been outscored 4-0 in the first period in their last three games and the starts have been sluggish and uncharacteristic. But the third periods, where the B’s have been dominant all year, have also been inconsistent as opponents pulled away from the Boston Bruins in the losses to both the Oilers and Blackhawks during this stretch as well.
The bottom line: It feels like the Boston Bruins are sleepwalking a bit right now with a Stanley Cup playoff berth clinched and very little pushing them after they built such a dominant lead over everybody else in the field. The hope is that something can snap them out of this funk prior to the start of the postseason about a month from now when Boston’s mediocre hockey will lead to a quick death sentence in the Stanley Cup playoffs.