BOSTON – In Toronto, there have now been two instances of fans throwing waffles on the ice as a sort of protest against the team’s terrible play.
While TheBruinsBlog.net would never advocate throwing anything onto the ice surface, maybe it’s time for someone to get a breakfast entrée or two to the black-and-gold-wearing players early in games to prevent yet another instance of the current Bruins being done faster than a one-minute egg.
For the ninth time this season, the Bruins allowed the first two goals of the game en route to their effort-less 3-0 loss to Anaheim tonight at TD Garden.
The lack of spunk and fire the club showed on the ice, despite firing 45 shots on net and Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller, carried over into the dressing room. The postgame ruminations were typical for a Claude Julien-coached club, where everything stays in-house and hardly anyone ever points a finger or calls anyone out.
To hear the Bruins tell it, no one can figure out a reason for the club’s awful starts, although they’ve allowed the first goal 17 out of 32 times this season. No one can pinpoint why the team’s emotion level can fluctuate not just game to game, but period to period, regardless of opponent. Not a 3-0 lead on Washington at home nor the start of a game for first place in Montreal can get this team to play high-caliber hockey for a long period of time.
Would it be far-fetched to suggest someone let them eat Eggos?
But on a serious note, complacency has obviously come home to roost. Remember all that competition the Bruins had fostered by adding some rookies to a mix of underachieving veterans? Well, that has gone the way of the organ serenading the Garden faithful during breaks in the action. Matt Hunwick and Marco Sturm were jettisoned to make the Bruins cap-compliant. Mark Stuart and Brad Marchand got hurt, leaving the Bruins with the minimum amount of available skaters. Mix in the inability of Boston to keep a young challenger like Jordan Caron on the roster, and also the fact that when they have an a full roster of healthy forwards the Bruins’ only option outside of the top 12 is “Stone Hands” Daniel Paille, and you have a team of players so comfortable in their roster slots they might as well be wearing pajamas and having breakfast in bed.
The Bruins were 12-8-2 when they traded Hunwick; they’re 5-3-2 since. Since the night of the Sturm deal, they’re 1-3-1 and have averaged just 1.80 goals over those five contests.
“We should have been excited about playing this game tonight,” Julien said after his players hemmed and hawed in the postgame dressing room. “We should have been excited. The intention of waking up tomorrow morning or leaving tonight in third place, that should have been exciting enough, and unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
The only visible action Julien took to light a fire under his squad was a third-period line shuffle – a tact he has attempted numerous times during his tenure. This time, it didn’t work. Rewarding Blake Wheeler with a chance to play with Milan Lucic – possible the only Boston forward who broke a sweat – and David Krejci made sense considering the third-year forward’s improved two-way play of late. But putting “Skating Zombie” Nathan Horton on a line with Marc Savard and Michael Ryder, and letting Tyler Seguin get a shot with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi was nothing more than attempting to mix tar with milk to make chocolate milk. Inexplicably, every time Julien tries to turn things around with a lineup jumble, the team’s hardest workers get nailed to the bench.
Gregory Campbell had a rough night with a couple of giveaways that led to Anaheim’s first goal. But he still dropped his gloves with Kyle Chipchura in an effort to zap life into his teammates. Instead of skating just 12 shifts for 8:10, maybe he could’ve shifted out to the wing to add some grit to the Bergeron-Recchi combo. Shawn Thornton skated just nine shifts, yet still fired five shots on goal – none wide, and none blocked. Imagine that, a player working to get the puck through the traffic. It shouldn’t be a surprise Thornton did that, considering he has done it almost every night since arriving in Boston. Maybe get him on a line with a couple of the “skill” guys who think that game night is effort-optional to set an example and really mix things up. Instead, the lunch-pail players take the blame.
Of course, the coach shouldn’t have to stoop to gimmicks. These are grown men, professional athletes, who should not only be able to motivate themselves to want to win at all costs but also earn some pretty hefty paychecks. If Nathan Horton, Dennis Seidenberg and David Krejci can look in the mirror and say they’ve played up to their pay scale lately, then someone should check what’s getting slipped in their orange juice.
Julien spoke after the game about thinking in the overnight hours about how to respond tomorrow morning. Should he loosen things up or make things tough on his players? We already know their 11 a.m. practice won’t run too long because they have holiday toy delivery duties in Boston at 1 p.m. It’s great that the Bruins, as players and as an organization, always put in a 100-percent effort to aid the community and those less fortunate. Now it’s about time the club put forth a similar effort from the first drop of the puck until the final horn.
No one’s asking the Bruins to win every game, just to work harder than the other club every night and cash in some of their two-point performances with an effort that’s worthy of the breakfast of champions. Right now, they don’t deserve more than some soggy, stale toast.