There have been some pretty bad Boston Bruins games in this shortened season–times when this team’s weaknesses were at their zenith and made fans ask what happened to the powerful, dominant team they once knew. I still have no answer to that question, by the way, but tonight made me ask it more than ever before in this season.
Where on earth were the big bad Bruins in this terrible 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, a non-playoff team with so many relatively unfamiliar faces on it that I saw some people basically calling it the Adirondack Phantoms? How were they so amazingly unable to control the puck, opening a bakery and serving up tons of piping hot turnovers? How did some of their hottest players turn so cold? How did Zdeno Chara completely lose control and have an absolutely awful game altogether? How did this team hang not one, but both of their goalies out to dry (doing it in two different bursts of gameplay for poor Anton Khudobin, who’s probably played his last game this season based on that performance)? How did they make Steve Mason look like the next Vezina Trophy winner?
There are too many questions raised by this pathetic game to even begin to answer. At this point, it’s just hard to even try to pinpoint why this stuff keeps happening over and over again. It’s like the Bruins are living in the movie Groundhog Day, but now there’s a big problem: you can count the days left until the playoffs on your hands.
This is a very inopportune time for a team to collapse as badly in a single game as the Bruins did this evening. It does not portend well at all for whatever team they’ll face in the quarterfinals. I literally cannot think of a single team that would be easily beatable by Boston right now. Basically, if losing in seven games last season was heartbreaking, then losing in four would be even worse–and now it seems entirely possible.
If there is one tiny little shard of hope to take out of this terrible showing, it’s that coach Claude Julien seems to have finally realized that making excuses and trying to pull the positives out of bad games (all that talk of good effort and whatnot) isn’t doing much of anything. He called his team embarrassing, which is exactly the right description. But will the call-out result in any change?
The thing is, so many different things seem to be going wrong all at once: the defense is as easily swayed as a tugboat on the high seas. Forwards who should be racking up the goals couldn’t find the back of the net if they had a map. To paraphrase members of the Bruins who were defending former teammate Mark Stuart at the time, “Tuukka and Anton can only do so much! Tuukka and Anton are only two men!”
Being that the Montreal Canadiens lost tonight too, it’s clear that no one actually wants to win the Northeast Division. But why? Here’s another burning question: will the team having a panic-button night like this one actually create any measurable, enduring change on this team? Or will the only answer to their myriad issues be a long, long summer?