Alfred E. Newman’s famous Mad Magazine motto has been doubling as the Bruins’ team slogan lately.
We shouldn’t worry that the team has won just once in the last two weeks. It’s no big deal that the team’s power play hasn’t scored 5-on-4 in a month. Most nights the team’s only offense comes from its top line, but that’s just a momentary lapse by what is a multi-line, super-deep scoring machine.
After all, every team the Bruins have played lately is desperate for points and fighting for its playoff life. Columbus (more in its own mind than in reality), Nashville and tonight Toronto – a 5-2 blowout winner – are already playing their playoff games. It’s difficult to match that type of intensity.
Well, if the Bruins think the Leafs and other wanna-be postseason clubs are playing at a fever pitch, what do they think they’re going to find once they get into the playoffs? If they think Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Toronto’s James Reimer are playing lights-out in goal, wait until the Bruins are staring down the likes of Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Miller or Cam Ward in a best-of-seven series.
This whole idea that opponents are outplaying the Bruins just because they have more to play for is preposterous. The Northeast Division is still very much on the line. The Bruins with a strong finish could even move up to second and most likely miss what promises to be a disastrous first-round match-up with Montreal. And overall, the Bruins should just be looking to play their best now rather than suddenly trying to find their game once the playoffs start because by then it might be too late.
Sure, the Bruins pretty much know they’re going to the playoffs. But just like two years ago when the postseason seemed assured by the start of March, this team also has to look forward to bigger and better things – be it a division title, a higher seed or just some impressive individual stats.
If the opponents’ playoff season has already started, the Bruins should be taking the same approach. That means it’s time to get the lazy out of their game. Michael Ryder should never have four of his shot attempts blocked like he did tonight. Playmakers David Krejci (no shots on net tonight) and Tomas Kaberle have to diversify their games and get a shot or two on net every night. Kaberle and the rest of the defensemen have to take care of the puck like it’s their baby, and actually pass it to another person rather than praying for success every time they fling it away. Zdeno Chara has to regain his mean streak and Mark Recchi has to find his scoring touch and forechecking legs.
And they have to get much angrier, and I don’t mean “Nathan Horton, throw my helmet down and challenge Dion Phaneuf when the game’s basically over” angry. They don’t even need a fight to show their anger. It’s just a matter of throwing the body and letting these “hungry” teams know they’re not getting any supper from the Bruins.
If this team has the type of character the Bruins’ front office and coaching staff thinks it has, the New Jersey Devils will have their bleak playoff chances completely stomped out by a squad of Boston players that will be exhaling smoke and skating with the wind at their backs Tuesday night. The Bruins can’t keep postponing their move into playoff mode and think that once the Stanley Cup logo is painted on the ice they’re suddenly going to morph back into the team that less than a month ago president Cam Neely declared was a top-four team.
If Mad Magazine did a cartoon about recent Bruins teams, the joke would be that they always fail in the seventh game of the second round of the playoffs despite the high hopes of their loyal-but-jaded fan base. If they keep playing the way they have during this 1-3-3 stretch, the Bruins won’t even get that far.