If you feel like the Bruins have been futilely searching for motivation during this entire Toronto bubble hockey situation to date, it's not your overactive imagination.
Bruins defenseman Torey Krug confirmed that to NBC Sports Boston during an exclusive zoom call on Thursday when he talked about the struggle to ratchet up the urgency in round robin games with no real playoff consequences, and the difficulty of generating emotion and momentum in an empty arena during a time when playoff hockey crowds are usually at their fever pitch.
The Bruins have lost all three games they have played over the last two weeks in Toronto -- one exhibition against the Blue Jackets and two round robin games against the Flyers and Lightning -- but mercifully will wrap up the round robin with a Sunday showdown against the Washington Capitals. The good news is that the No. 3 seed in the East will be on the line in that game, so there will be something to play for between Eastern Conference powers in Boston and Washington.
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The Bruins have gradually elevated their intensity level over the last two weeks, but Krug confirmed that it’s been a bit of a struggle for the Black and Gold.
“It’s all part of the situation. Whether it’s right or wrong, the mentality is tough [to elevate] when it’s not do-or-die and you know you’re not getting sent home,” Krug admitted. “We do sit and talk as a group and whether it’s the first or the fourth seed, it does not matter who you are going to be playing … It’s going to be tough. We went through all the teams yesterday and it just doesn’t matter.
“That being said we’re working our way into that playoff mode of hockey and trying to get our head wrapped around it.
“Empty buildings are a lot different than when guys say, ‘When you’re on the ice it doesn’t matter and you block everything out.’ It’s really tough to generate momentum or energize a group, especially when you’re down by one or two goals. Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s just matter of fact. We’re in a situation where it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We’ve got to show up the next time we’re on the ice. It’s been tough, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
The Bruins finally showed flickers of their playoff mode a couple of days ago as tempers flared and intensity elevated against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Those were encouraging signs as the Bruins have been forced to become self-motivators in every way during this unique Stanley Cup playoff journey.
The good news: That shouldn’t be required next week when the real playoffs begin and everything is on the line for every remaining team.