BOSTON — A patch of adversity was inevitable for the Boston Bruins as a noreaster hitting the Hub this February and people complaining about the All-Star voting.
But the Boston Bruins’ two-game losing streak — their first in regulation of the season — isn’t all that important. They still have a cushy lead both for the Eastern Conference and Northeast Division leads. No, the important thing will be how the club now responds to dropping consecutive games on home ice to Buffalo and Minnesota.
The 1-0 loss tonight to the Wild was everything you’d expect from a game against the team that practically invented the trap. And it didn’t help that the Bruins seemed to be panicking every time the puck came within shouting distance of their stick. This is the payback a team gets after it rips through 10 straight games without a win, defends the home ice 14 times in a row and makes the month of December its own personal “win-a-polooza.” This is the diet you have to go on after a week of eating fine steak and seafood on a luxury cruise.
To a man, the Bruins seemed to understand that, including rookie Blake Wheeler – who sounded wise beyond his years after the game.
“We’ve gotten into some bad habits. Things have come pretty easy for us. We’ve gone on some incredible runs here, winning a lot of games. I think the natural human instinct is when you win a lot of games, you start feeling good about yourself and maybe some of the finer details kind of slip a little bit,” he said after the game. “So I think we need to get back to where we started from, which is the little things, the small details, and that’s why we’re successful.”
Veteran winger Michael Ryder echoed the sentiments of his younger counterpart.
“We haven’t been playing the greatest lately and still won some games. Now we’re on the end of the losing end of those,” he said. “So we definitely need to get back to working hard in practice, getting back to the basics of what got us the success early in the year. Sometimes when you’re winning you get away from that and forget the little things.”
The Bruins are talking a good game right now. We’ll find out if those words can turn to actions Thursday when the reeling Ottawa Senators come to town. The Sens, who’ve dropped 15 of their last 16 road games, might be the perfect remedy. Although they’re struggling, Ottawa is a divisional foe that’s exploited weak Bruins teams in years past. The sight of those red, white and black jerseys should add some extra motivation.
Until Thursday, the Bruins are in for some extra work with their coaches before, during and after practice Wednesday.
“First of all, you don’t panic,” head coach Claude Julien said about how he’ll handle his team’s current predicament. “I don’t think anybody thought we were going to be flying the way were flying for 82 games without going through some bumps and bruises.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things. … Eventually things catch up as well in certain areas. You’ve got four key players that are out of the line-up. You’ve got some top players right now that probably aren’t at the top of their games, so it doesn’t take much sometimes to slip a little bit. But you’ve just got to work your way through it.”
The best approach now would be for the Bruins to practice for their inevitable spring run. This is a playoff series and their down 2-0. How they respond will be a measure of how far this club can really go.