Forget the discussion of who’s to blame between Jarome Iginla, Jay Feaster and Peter Chiarelli. Who’s to blame for what’s actually happening on the ice?
The slumping Bruins lost their latest winnable contest Saturday, dropping a 3-1 decision to the 14th-place Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. It was the fourth straight game in which they allowed the first two goals, and it was the latest sign that the Bruins’ current struggles can’t be solved by a trade.
Depending on the game, the Bruins have been any combination of sloppy, sleepy, disorganized and soft recently. It’s their worst stretch of the season, as they’re 2-4-1 over their last seven games, due largely to the fact that the team has been offensively dormant.
In this troublesome seven-game stretch, the Bruins have scored two goals or less in six of the games (though they beat the Maple Leafs, 3-2, in a shootout, they obviously scored just two goals in that contest). They scored five goals against the Canadiens Wednesday, but that looks like an outlier in what’s been a two weeks of limited production.
Their latest offensive no-show came Saturday against a Flyers team that both entered the game 26th in the league with 3.06 goals against per game and was having 24-year-old defenseman Oliver Lauridsen make his NHL debut because the blueline is so decimated by injuries.
Maybe Iginla would have scored or set up the game-tying goal if he were on the team, but the B’s were plenty capable of winning that game with the guys they had out there. They just didn’t execute (again), and Claude Julien was accurate in his postgame criticism for only getting performances from one line at a time.
On Saturday, it was David Krejci’s line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. They came out strong in the first period with five shots on goal, had a shaky second in which Horton missed an empty net on a rebound before scoring the Bruins’ only goal in the third period on some nice passing and work in front of the net from Horton.
That was it for the team’s top nine forwards. Even Patrice Bergeron, who is consistent as they come in every facet of the game, went 7-for-20 on draws (a rarity; the reigning Selke winner leads the NHL with a 61.6 success rate on faceoffs). Of course, Bergeron had one of the Bruins’ best chances of the day with his second-period wraparound bid, but it was a quiet day from his line on the while.
When consistency is an issue like it has been of late, it becomes a matter of motivation. After being told by Jarome Iginla that the Penguins were better, the Bruins should have been motivated to come out and show the league that they too have a case for being the top team in the East. It was the latest game for which they should have had no trouble getting up, but they did.
The Flyers, whose blue line was missing Nick Grossmann, Andrej Meszaros, and Braydon Coburn due to injuries, was just waiting to allow a bunch of goals. Ilya Bryzgalov was waiting to be the victim of some sort of offensive flurry from the B’s (they scored three goals in the first period against him on March 9), but despite Boston’s 34 shots on goal Saturday, Bryzgalov didn’t face much of a test.
Chiarelli obviously needs to make moves, but the bigger difference that can be made for this team is it waking up. The inconsistency up front won’t be solved by adding a piece, and it’s a bigger issue than who or who isn’t on the roster right now.
If the Bruins go out and get Mark Streit, he’ll help but he won’t make Tyler Seguin (four points the last eight games, but three of them came in one game) produce with the regularity that should be expected of him. Getting a Ryan Whitney won’t prevent the long scoring droughts that Lucic and Horton have had in recent weeks. Even the great Iginla couldn’t have made the top three lines all decide to show up for an entire game.
The Bruins have the talent on this roster to be a legitimate contender. What level contender is up for debate, but this team has played much better hockey than it’s turning in these days. Yes, Chris Kelly and Adam McQuaid are missed, but not so much that honest and consistent efforts are no longer possible for this team.
Maybe the Bruins are anxious about the trade deadline. Maybe they’re eager to see who they get. Whatever they’re thinking, it shouldn’t be that whoever’s brought to town before Wednesday will cure what ails them. They have to do that themselves, and the sooner they realize it and make the necessary corrections, the better. Despite Montreal hitting a bit of a snag recently, the Bruins still trail them in the standings. The B’s will have to fix their issues on the fly and fix them while winning.