By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
It’s beginning to feel like déjà vu all over again.
After dropping a 5-2 game to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night that saw the referees call back two goals, and make some questionable calls against the Bruins, it is beginning to feel like free fall time for the Black and Gold. The loss resulted in the first four-game losing streak all season, and the timing couldn’t be worse.
Just when it seemed that the team had been given a burst of energy following the trading deadline that saw them become buyers instead of sellers, it seems the tide has turned against the team following the winless trip to California. Instead of fighting for the lead in the Atlantic Division as they were before they left, the Bruins could be fighting for the playoff lives if they can’t turn it around soon.
Tonight’s match up against the Florida Panthers – which ironically is Claude Julien night, a celebration marking his becoming the winningest head coach in team history – is about as close as you can get to a must win for the B’s. The Bruins not only need to stem the bleeding that is bordering on hemorrhaging as they enter play at TD Garden, they need to put some points in the bank and quick.
The good news for the Bruins is that the Panthers are muddling along themselves, losers of two straight, and all three that they have played against the Black and Gold this season. The bad news is, the B’s are at home. Need I say more?
Surely the team is aware of the fact that the Philadelphia Flyers are within striking distance of taking their spot in the post season. Philly has two games in hand on the Bruins, and sit only three points back. If they hadn’t blown a two-goal lead with just a couple of minutes to play on Tuesday against Columbus, that gap would be even smaller.
Let’s face it, the B’s track record of performing under pressure has not been that great dating back to the game seven loss at home against the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the playoffs in 2014. When faced with a win and get in scenario last year with a team that was arguably better than this one, they choked on multiple occasions.
Sure, the players were quick to say that the locker room was fractured, and that was what led to the poor level of play, but that excuse only goes so far. The fact is, when you have a team with a core group of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and an aging Zdeno Chara; that should be enough to make the playoffs no matter how bad your defense and bottom forward group is.
Starting tonight, the Bruins have to show that they have the heart to fight back. If they don’t, the next presentation the team makes to its head coach will be to hand him his pink slip.