The Boston Bruins are four games into the 2014-15 NHL season and only have one win and just four goals to show for it.
There has been no sign of the Bruins team from last season who scored 258 goals, 3.15 per game, the third best of both by any NHL team. The three straight regulation losses are out of character, too. It has been 145 games since the Bruins have lost three consecutive games in regulation. Last season, it was on October 26 when the Bruins lost their third game of the season. The team was 7-2 prior to that.
And when Danny Briere scored the Colorado Avalanche’s game-winning-goal with .5 seconds left in the third period, it only emphasizes that this is a Bruins team still in need of finding an identity, at the very least.
“Well at the end of the day, those are things that make your team a stronger team and a better team down the road,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien when asked if Monday’s loss takes a psychological effect on the team. “When you have adversity, a lot of teams will tell you at the end of the year, that it probably made them a better hockey club. So it can only do that for us if we start learning from it and we turn it around and we get ourselves going in the right direction.”
The sky might not be falling, but there’s no doubting that something isn’t right with the Bruins. It starts with certain players being unable to find their groove. Aside from a nice feed from David Krejci late in the third, Milan Lucic has been one of the Bruins’ role players who has had some struggles getting going. Coming back from offseason wrist surgery, Lucic has looked a step behind this season, often invisible on the ice even though Monday he got off a season-high three shots. With a Corsi of 2, Lucic found himself near the bottom of Bruins’ forwards. He was held without a shot in his first two games.
The mixing of the lines hasn’t helped either. Aside from the Patrice Bergeron line and the Carl Soderberg trio, Julien has shuffled what would be the first and fourth lines, both with new combinations today. Finding a certain rhythm hasn’t been an issue in the past for the Bruins, but with new personnel on the roster, it almost seemed like a sure thing to start the season.
So how can the Bruins fix this? Julien seems to think they’re getting there.
“I think our team played better,” said Julien. I think it’s a bitter pill to swallow right now because you lose a game in that fashion. But had it been the other way, had we won the 2-1 game, I think everybody would have been fairly pleased with the effort. I think it was a better effort. I think there was better concentration. I think at the end of the day, some of those crucial mistakes came back to bite us.”
By the Bruins’ next game, the lines will likely be the same – that’s the first step. Establishing a game or two to get everyone together will help the Bruins be able to get momentum going and build chemistry. The next step? Sign Simon Gagne. As a fringe 12th/13th forward, the Bruins would be able to use his scoring touch and speed. While the Bruins have done a good job to begin, giving spots to Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner, and Craig Cunningham, among others, Gagne’s experience could help push the team past whatever minor slump this is.
If not? It might be a long season.
Mike Miccoli covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers and has been a credentialed member of the media for all Bruins’ home games for the past five years. As a former player, coach and official, Miccoli has been around the game of hockey since the age of three. Along with his work on THW, Miccoli has also been published in the New England Hockey Journal, Improper Bostonian magazine and on BostInno.