BRIGHTON, Mass – It was perhaps inevitable that some of the bad habits creeping into the Bruins’ game would eventually hurt them.
That was the case in their first regulation loss in 19 games when they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Anaheim Ducks after allowing their opponent, in this case Anaheim, to score first for the eighth consecutive time. In fact the Bruins were outshot 15-5 and gave up a pair of goals to dig themselves quite a hole, and it was one of worse starts out of those aforementioned eight games starting with a deficit.
Some of the time the Bruins haven’t been ready to go on time, and some of the time the goal has arrived midway through a fairly evenly played game. Either way it’s an area Bruce Cassidy wants to properly address as it’s readily apparent the Black and Gold are much better playing the front-runner role this season. Boston has a gaudy 18-1-5 record this season when they score the game’s first goal, and a much more middling 11-10-3 record when their opponents get the drop on them.
“It’s a good question because it has crept in,” said Cassidy, when asked about the slow starts for the Bruins. “We’ve talked about it. Do you change your game-day routine? That’s the first thing you look at, and I don’t think we need to because we’ve been pretty consistent with that for a year-long stretch now. Are we complacent? We really don’t want them thinking ‘Well, we’ve won a lot of games, so we’ll find our game…we’ll get it together.’ So has that crept in?
“We’ll have to talk about that. Teams understand when you’re on a roll and maybe they come into the game a little differently. So is that a factor? There are a lot of things that go into it, but it’s on the entire group to understand that it’s not acceptable anymore…especially at home where you should be well-rested and have the jump. As a staff the onus comes to us to coach in a few more details right off the bat, so maybe you’re a little more specific on the first five minutes to get them focused. It is a concern and I don’t think there’s one magic answer to it.”
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The bottom line for the Bruins is that they’ve got a huge cushion for a playoff spot these days, and clearly some of the urgency and hunger has left their game as they’ve rolled up points over the last couple of months. It hasn’t needed to be there as they continued to get the good result in game after game, but now the point streak is over and the good habits need to start returning to them as they navigate a challenging stretch against some very good teams.
That starts for the B’s with a good start to the game for the first time in a while, and that will be a point of emphasis when the puck drops Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues.