Bruins’ road gets more difficult after two embarrassing losses
The trying times continue in Boston.
At a point where his seat is hotter than it’s ever been following two disastrous losses against two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference in the Red Wings and Islanders, Claude Julien is looking for any type of spark from his team. Actions by GM Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely aren’t necessarily in the safest of seats either and will need to do something other than being quiet.
Those actions may take place down the road. For now, the task in hand is overcoming a no-show against the Islanders at home and a blown three-goal lead against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena two nights ago.
Unlike the last two meetings, and for that matter the last month and a half, the Bruins will have the services of Matt Beleskey for a rare Friday night contest against the Blackhawks on Causeway Street.
“It’s tough to watch your guys struggle and not be able to help,” said Beleskey, who missed the last seven weeks after suffering a knee injury on December 3rd against the Sabres. “It’s going to be great to be back in there and make a difference.”
As tough as both losses were, the loss in Detroit was felt throughout the plane ride home to Hanscom Air Force Base.
“The game against the Islanders we didn’t have much jump or much going for us. The game against Detroit, we got off to a good start, but we took our foot off the gas and they made some plays and we only got one point out of the effort,” said David Backes, who returned to right wing after playing at center against the Red Wings on Wednesday.
“Both [games] can be great lessons if we learn from it. Neither [loss] was quite enjoyable, and that was probably the quietest I think all year on that plane ride home from Detroit. To me, that’s a great sign that it mattered. It hit us in the heart, it hit us where it mattered, and we’re thinking about how we can be better and turn the tide and be victorious next time out and that’s tonight.”
Tonight’s task at TD Garden is not an easy one. It just so happens to be one of the upper echelon teams in the National Hockey League.
“We’re thinking about Chicago. That’s where our focus is,” an embattled Julien said following the team’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. “We have a game here that we need to play tonight and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
The names are still familiar from the 2013 Stanley Cup Final: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook just to name a few. Other players like Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin give the Blackhawks more balance throughout their lineup.
Having encountered tense battles with them during his days in St. Louis, both in the regular season and in the playoffs, Backes is well aware of the depth Chicago possesses.
“[We’re both] in the same division and in a couple of times in the playoffs we were able to beat them last year and they beat us a couple years ago,” the former Blues captain recalled. “There’s a lot of talent over there. They won three Cups in recent history, and we’re going to need a great effort tonight.”
At times, the Bruins have shown that they can play with talented teams like the Penguins, Capitals, Blue Jackets and Canadiens. The positives they can take away from those performances are trumped with the head-scratching losses to bottom feeding teams like the Red Wings, Islanders and Avalanche, especially when those bad losses happen at TD Garden.
For a team mired in mediocrity, the desperate Bruins hope to show what they’re capable of and stop the bleeding.
“I think this team has shown that we’re very capable of those great efforts. And the better the team that we face, the better our performance is,” Backes said. “Don’t expect anything different tonight against a team that’s leading the Central Division and playing good hockey that they always do. We need two points tonight probably more than they do and we need to show that.”