With 47 shots on goal, a huge edge in hits and a dominant performance on faceoffs, the Bruins could’ve easily plucked a few positives out of their 3-0 loss to Carolina.
Bruins coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with his club's effort in Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Hurricanes at TD Garden. (Getty)
But following a frustrating setback to a team tied for last place in the Eastern Conference, there was no sugarcoating going on in Boston’s dressing room.
“Tonight we were just really bad,” confessed captain Zdeno Chara. “We just didn’t play well. (It was) just a really bad night for us. You know, I thought we had actually the start of the game (we wanted) and then Johnny [Boychuk] seemed like he got hurt and we all kind of stopped playing, including myself, and boom they zipped it past us and it’s past Tuukka [Rask]. Then we just, again, we didn’t have a good second and, yeah, we couldn’t get anything going tonight.”
The B’s were unlucky to come away from the first period trailing 1-0, as Eric Staal’s tally put the ‘Canes on top despite Boston holding a 22-8 edge in shots and 12-5 advantage in scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes. The second stanza, however, plagued the Bruins yet again. The Black and Gold put just five pucks on net and saw their deficit double in the middle frame.
“Second period, just like the other night, that’s the same thing over and over,” coach Claude Julien said. “We go back out there, we got five shots and the focus and the execution that we want is not there, and then you end up behind the eight ball again going into the third. We’ve done that way too much lately – way too much – and we certainly have to understand that we are not that great of a team when we’re just going out there and going through the motions.”
With three losses in their last five games, Julien’s club looks a lot like the team that started the year 3-7-0 and not the one that went on to win 25 of their next 30 games.
“You know, when you’re playing the way they’re playing, guys get frustrated, and we saw that at the beginning of the year,” Boston’s bench boss said. “We’re not playing very smart right now, and we’re certainly not competing the way we should be competing. I guess, as a coach, you’ve got to find ways to solve that, but at the same time, the answer still remains in the dressing room, too. They’ve got to kind of do their share because we certainly can’t play for them. But we’re certainly going to work on that and getting our competitive edge back up to where it should be.”
Making the evening all the more frustrating was the fact that Carolina – despite their noted struggles against the other 28 teams in the NHL – won for the fourth time in four tries against the defending champs, sweeping the season series between the two squads.
“I don’t want to take anything away from them because they played a hell of a game all four games,” said winger Shawn Thornton. “They played extremely hard and their goalie worked extremely well. But we didn’t make it easy on ourselves either. I don’t know if we had everybody going all those games, I think we could have made things a lot tougher on Cam Ward.
“Again, I don’t want to take anything away from him, but we could have made some of those stops a lot tougher with people being around the net and pouncing on rebounds but we weren’t, and the first three games that starts with our line too. Our line was minus whatever in the first three games too so we’re well aware of how responsible we were in the first three.”
Now a pedestrian 5-4-1 in their last ten tilts, Julien bluntly assessed his team’s play of late.
“Right now, we’re playing more like a team that should be at the bottom of the standings, and [we’re at] the top of the standings,” the coach said. “And that’s the reality of it.”
With tough tilts against the Penguins and Capitals coming up this weekend, the Bruins need to nip their string of incomplete efforts in the bud promptly.
“We’ve got to realize we can’t just rely on playing for 20 or 40 minutes,” Patrice Bergeron said. “It’s too hard and it’s late to win games like that. I mean, yes, it’s going to happen once in a while and we are going to say we’ll take it. But at the end of the day, we need to straighten that up. We’ve got to execute that and put it on the ice now.”