BOSTON — The Boston Bruins had been collecting points like Pacman working his way through a maze for two weeks before the San Jose Sharks came to town tonight.
The Sharks’ impressive 5-2 win over the Bruins in a battle of the Eastern and Western Conference’s top teams ended the Bruins’ string of points at nine straight. But this loss might’ve been the best remedy for what’s been ailing the Bruins.
You see, the last two games before San Jose’s visit, Boston earned points (including two in Ottawa) despite blowing two-goal leads. And 60-minute efforts have been few and far between, even in some of the games the Bruins didn’t squander leads in during their recent two-week stretch against some of the top teams in the NHL.
So think of this Sharks game, one that featured the Bruins twice leading and taking a one-goal lead into the third, as an intervention. The Bruins were getting addicted to points that weren’t hard-earned. And now they can get back on the wagon. They should be sobered up and back to the hockey that they played while building up a double-digit lead in the conference by the time they take the ice in Newark Friday night.
A veteran team with veteran savvy, the Bruins weren’t letting this loss shatter their world. They know what it will take to stay on the wagon.
“If you lose to a good team, it’s a loss that you can take if you played hard,” said defenseman Andrew Ference. “I think the disappointing thing is having the lead and then not continuing what you’re good at. That doesn’t sit well.”
Added center Marc Savard: “I’m mad right now. It’s disappointing. We were all excited for this one, especially, after Christmas we all had it marked on our calendar. We wanted to be ready for this one. Forty minutes we were ready, and the last 20 we didn’t play our game.”
You know what they say? The first step to getting clean is admitting you have a problem. And if the rest of the Bruins fall in line with Ference and Savard, this club should already be on the road to recovery.
Head coach Claude Julien can’t admit it. No professional — or college or pee wee coach for that matter — could. But this was a loss the Bruins needed. They needed a slap in the face, needed to know that they’re mortal and now it’s back to reality.
The best thing for the Bruins? They know that when they cut themselves off, quit cold turkey so to speak, they’re a damn solid hockey team. So they know what the reward will be when they put in the work. Now they just have to do it.