Bruins and Senators now engaged in heavyweight division battle
As is the case with many teams, the Boston Bruins season thus far has been one of ups and downs. It’s up to the Bruins to decide if the final 13 games of the regular season will be an up, or a down.
Rewind just one month ago to Valentine’s Day. The Bruins were on home ice taking on the Eastern Conference leading Rangers, as the Senators were in Tampa Bay taking on the red-hot Lightning.
Entering that evening the Bruins held a six-point lead over the Ottawa Senators with five games in hand. Two shutouts later that night — one by the Rangers, and one by the Senators— dropped the Bruins lead to just four points in the Northeast Division.
Everyone was confident that the Bruins had the Northeast Division wrapped up for the third time in four years. It wasn’t the points that had Bruins fans and media alike confident, it was the games in hand.
Here we sit a month and a day later, and it’s awfully hard to find anyone who can confidently tell you the Bruins are going to win the Northeast.
After last night’s shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the surprising Senators sit just one point behind the Bruins, yes folks, just one point.
After tonight’s contest in sunny Florida, the Bruins will have just one game in hand. It will jump back up to two after the Senators host those very same Canadiens in their home half of a home and home series.
You don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out that a loss by the B’s to the Panthers tonight, and a Sens win over the hated Habs tomorrow night makes the Sens the top dog in the Northeast.
You won’t catch the Bruins pointing fingers or making excuses regarding their recent struggles. Bruins bench boss Claude Julien sees some fatigue in his club, but knows that’s no excuse.
“You can sense fatigue in our club, that’s our biggest challenge right now” said Julien after his team was embarrassed by the Lightning 6-1 in Tampa Bay on Tuesday. “We’re not playing well and fatigue’s creeping in. We have to find a way to right the ship.’’
Put fatigue and injuries aside and it’s simple, the Bruins need to start playing better hockey. Playing better hockey starts with the Bruins play right out of the gate.
The Bruins have allowed the first goal of the game in six straight contest, and have been outscored 13-3 in the first period of those six games.
“What’s really throwing us off right now is we give those teams leads, and all of a sudden guys are getting frustrated, and we just kind of get away from our game plan, “Julien said. “Instead of playing the way we should, we’re starting to cheat and we’re trying to get those goals back. In frustration, we’re making poor decisions and so on and so forth. It just snowballs.”
With the two games in hand, and slimmest of leads in the division, the Bruins control their own destiny. The Bruins are in no real danger of missing the playoffs in general, but hopefully that’s a story that doesn’t start to develop as March becomes April.
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