Julien/By S. Bradley

I hesitated to use the term underperforming in the headline because if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I only expect slightly better from this Bruins team than what we’ve seen over the club’s recent 1-3-3 stretch.

Any team with an aggressive forecheck and/or a top-notch goaltender can pretty much dispose of these Bruins, considering their lack of creativity around the net, their lack of desire to go to the dirty areas of the rink and their corps blueliners that treat the puck like it’s on fire when it lands on their stick. More and more it looks like the Bruins needed to add more than just a power-play quarterback and a couple third-line forwards at the trade deadline.

Nonetheless, the Bruins and most of their fans believe there could be some championship mettle buried underneath this ugly shell, so hope is always worth selling. One guy that has to believe his team can perform like a “top-four” club is head coach Claude Julien, whose answer to his team’s recent lackluster play was to make the players report to Ristuccia Arena for a full practice today.

“If our overall game, if your team is playing well, you don’t mind giving days because it’s been a long grind and you’ve got to make sure they get their rest,” Julien said after his team went through a full-contact session at its practice rink. “But when their game isn’t where it should be, you don’t give days off. You work on finding your game.”

Maybe what the Bruins need is boot camp instead of hockey practice, considering the drop-off in their work ethic. Nonetheless, today’s lines lead you to believe that Michael Ryder could be headed back to the press box, where he was for one game before Brad Marchand’s suspension. Ryder skated with Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi on the second line. Marchand is now eligible to rejoin the lineup after sitting out two games.

If scratching Ryder doesn’t wake up some other slumping veterans, maybe it’ll be time to scratch some other high-priced would-be talent in the near future. There’s just 11 games left for Julien to get his message across. He might consider pulling out all the stops.

Otherwise, underperforming will be the wrong term and we’ll learn that this team’s last two weeks are more in line with what it’s capable of.