What’s Left to Say About the Bruins After 6-2 Loss to Panthers: Fan’s Take

I watch Boston Bruins games lately and wonder where my team went because these guys certainly don't seem like the guys I know. They give up at the slightest provocation, leave their goalie hanging out to dry, allow teams to score bountiful goals on them and just don't seem to realize that they are within a hair's breadth of losing first in the division, second in the conference. In fact, with this streak of inconsistency that's eaten up pretty much all of the second half of the season, it's a surprise they didn't lose their prize spot in the conference earlier, but that's only because the team did so, so well in the boom times and was able to live off their savings for so long.

With this 6-2 loss to the Florida Panthers comes a whole new crop of upsetting but true facts from Michael S. Berger, who can find pretty much any fact about Boston sports:

-March is only halfway over and yet the Bruins have allowed more goals this month, 34, than for the entire month of February, which wasn't a stellar month either.

-In fact, in the last four games, the Bruins have allowed 20 goals. Compare that to December, when they allowed just 18…for the entire month.

-Why don't we just pile on the pain a little more? In the 35 games played from October to December, the team allowed 67 goals. In the 35 games played from January to March, the team allowed 107.

This is also the team's first four-game consecutive losing streak since January 2010. In fact, if they find a way to lose against the Philadelphia Flyers on St. Patrick's Day (they will need the luck of the Irish to avoid that), their March record so far will become just as bad as October's.

Once again, as has been happening far too often lately, the team let one thing deflate them. This time it was how a very weak cross-checking call on Shawn Thornton led to a power play goal by Mikael Samuelsson. The call was weaker than a badly-made cup of coffee because it came when Mike Weaver lost his balance and careened awkwardly into the boards. Thornton did his best to avoid collision with Weaver, but got the call anyway.

Another weak call came when Brad Marchand was done in for what was originally boarding but became unsportsmanlike conduct. He took a hard hit from Brian Campbell that, if done to any other player on any other team, would be immediate grounds for a potential call from Brendan Shanahan. Patrice Bergeron almost went after Campbell for the hit, which went uncalled, and later in that shift Marchand received the call. So, once again, the Bruins let the other team score first.

In the second, they let the Panthers add another goal before Joe Corvo finally answered—and then, about a minute later, I saw him commit a turnover that led to another Panthers goal. Corvo really seems to hinder the team more than he helps. In his attempts to prove himself, perhaps, he ends up messing up more often. Later in the second, the Bruins let another player with fewer than ten goals for the season score: John Madden, finally earning his first of the season.

Brian Rolston did get his first point as a Bruin, a rare power play goal at the start of the third period that brought the Bruins within two, but instead of them scoring two more goals, the Panthers added two for a decisive victory. It evoked the "good old days" of when the Bruins were the ones opening up six-packs of goals on their opponents. Now it seems like all the other teams are getting their chance to sup from a six-pack against them.

Some point the finger at Tim Thomas for the team's struggles. I admit he has been very un-Thomaslike lately, but this is a team sport and his defensemen could step in and try to help clear the area instead of standing there uselessly staring into space and praying the puck doesn't go in. He is not the sole reason behind this team's struggles. It's hard to put together all the possible reasons. Injuries are one, but this inconsistency started before the injury bug bit the team hard. It just seems like this team is a shadow of what it used to be. They don't play as physically and impose their will on the other team like they used to.

At this point, there's not much time left for the Bruins to turn things around again. They have just six home and six away games remaining, including two more weekends of back-to-backs. If the Ottawa Senators win over the Montreal Canadiens on March 16, the Senators will take first place in the Northeast and second in the conference. The Bruins were only able to hold on to those prime positions for so long because when they were good, they were really good and banked lots of points. But, they're about to run out of the savings they've lived off of during this inconsistency that has swallowed up much of the season.

Reading the postgame interview, it seems like some of the team's biggest names don't know what is going wrong and therefore don't seem to know what can be done to fix it. Do the Bruins avail themselves of the services of a sports psychologist? If not, it may be time to find one. It seems like there are some underlying issues that the team can't explain, but someone could help them identify the problems and work towards solving them. If they don't feel comfortable discussing their problems with the media, I understand that, but they need to discuss them somewhere safe and get on the road to fixing them.

They should be willing to try anything to get out of the rut they've found themselves so deep inside before the season ends with what could very well be a very short playoff run.

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Updated Friday, Mar 16, 2012