By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
For Bruins fans, it is déjà vu all over again.
Just when it looked like the team had turned the corner and found new life under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, they are turning into the same dysfunctional bunch that pissed away a playoff spot down the stretch the last two seasons.
After two tough losses that could have gone either way against Toronto and Ottawa earlier this week, the B’s lost a game they easily should have won against Tampa Bay at the Garden on Thursday night, getting outscored 3-0 in the third period in a game they absolutely needed to win.
I’m not sure what is more frustrating, watching a team implode for the third-straight season, or listening to the excuse making that followed yet another sub par performance.
“We got the lead, but they came back on us every single time,” said goaltender Tuukka Rask, who once again failed to carry his team when they need him most. “It was just embarrassing. That’s the last thing you need and everybody knows it, that that’s the last mistake you want to make. To happen three times in one game is inexcusable.”
He sheepishly added, “A goalie has to make a couple of extra stops there. I didn’t. So, that’s part of my job, to accept the fact that sometimes it’s your fault. A couple of times I should have made a save. It happens sometimes.”
Forward David Backes – who has been a bust in a Bruins uniform – was also unhappy with the way things went in the 6-3 loss. “In the third period, you’ve got a tie game in your building, in a critical game,” said the burly center, turned winger. “You expect to have that jump. It (wasn’t) good enough, from top to bottom. I’ll be the first guy to point fingers in my chest and say I need to be better.”
Finger pointing aside – even if it is at one’s self – you still cannot hide the fact that if the B’s can’t pull out six wins in their last eight games, they once again will likely be on the outside looking in at the NHL’s second season in a couple of weeks.
As painful as it may be for some Bruins fans to consider, it may just be best if the B’s get bounced out of a playoff spot again. Even though many – yours truly, included – thought as recently as three games ago, that the foundation of the next contending team to wear black and gold sweaters, was beginning to be laid.
However, what the third period of the loss against the Lightning showed, is that it may take a near-total demolition of what remains of the rest of the previous bedrock, before that can actually take place. Once again, the organization looks to be at a crossroad, and it is brutally evident that it wasn’t only the former head coach who was holding the team back. The roster – as it is currently constituted – is fatally flawed. And while it is true that there is now hope with the prospects that are in the pipeline due to a series of good drafts – drafts that were led by now Edmonton Oilers assistant general manager Keith Gretzky – it will be years until they reach their potential, assuming they do.
What three weeks ago was looking like a road to redemption, is now looking like that same pothole ravaged street that leads to an early end to the season. All the hope that surrounded the team has been replaced by despair, a feeling that is oh too familiar for those who follow the team.
Hello darkness, my old friend. Bruins’ fans have come to see you again. Too bad, like the team, you seemingly haven’t changed one bit.