In a must win game on Garden ice last night the Bruins blew three leads, just 44 seconds, 24 seconds, and 1:35 after each of their go-ahead goals. Nikita “My Name Sounds Like A Movie Villain” Kucherov put his stamp on the game with a hat trick as the Bolts demoralized the B’s, 6-3. Time to bust out the “we’ve got to be better” company slogan.
Pass the bourbon, please.
It’s pretty easy to point fingers before, during, and after that debacle last night. There were dumb penalties, constant icings, soft goals, and insane amounts of effort went into arguing with officials, opponents, and frustrated scuffles away from the play. It’s all signs of team feeling the pressure of the situation.
And it’s pretty wild to watch too. You have some of the more accomplished players in Bruins history suiting up every night for this squad. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, and now a legit NHL star in Brad Marchand. These guys won a Stanley Cup together. They had to go through three Game 7’s in one playoff just to do it. They’ve felt pressure like no other before. So why is this so difficult?
There are a few reasons.
One, the depth of this team is like a kiddie pool. Knee deep at best. So if something goes wrong with any combo of the top line or special teams there is no Plan B for recovery. Bad officiating can bury this team. Bad penalties will bury this team. Soft goals will bury this team. Bad efforts will cripple this team. They have no room for error that teams with legit three or four line deep talent can buy you.
Two, the recent back-to-back year end collapses have so much real estate in the B’s minds that you could build a Super Walmart there. It’s like the “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you” gag kids play when they put their pointing finger an inch from a buddy’s face. You just can’t ignore the fact that it’s essentially the same annoying thing. And it’s starting to get to them. Every other team chasing points in the Eastern Conference is getting them. Toronto is going out and doing it. Tampa has clawed back into it. The Islanders are right there. And yes, even Carolina could get involved in the race. Boston is the only team in that pack with the voice in their head going, “you won’t choke again. You won’t do it. You won’t do it.”
And three, this B’s core set the new expectation in Boston. This isn’t Carolina, Ottawa, the Isle, or an unproven Leafs squad in its infancy. There are significant Cup winners still in that B’s locker room. This core wasn’t in the crosshairs on the 2011 run like they are today. Outside of Shawn Thornton they were probably too naive to realize what they were doing then. Fast forward six seasons, tickets are stupid expensive, we want more Cups, and fair or not this version of the Bruins isn’t performing up to what we’ve grown to expect. Maybe they can’t handle the world they created. It’s all squarely on the players. We know it isn’t on the coaching. And the players do too.
If they fail over these final nine games this thing will likely be blown up. Save for Bergeron, Pastrnak, Marchand, and young pieces they covet, the entire thing will be thrown into the fire as it should be. That will also include Cam Neely and quite possibly Don Sweeney.
I’m not in the prediction business or Herb Brooks by any means, but I can still see the Bruins doing enough to get in even though the picture isn’t rosy. I really can. But I can’t say I’ll bet on it even though it’s not that complicated at this point. Start by showing up. Clear your head. Make a save. Do what you’ve shown you can do. Rinse and repeat.
That’s certainly easier said than done. But this shit needs to get done.
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