Heading into late February’s trade deadline, the 2010-11 edition of the Boston Bruins were rounding into the kind of force the franchise hadn’t seen since the Bobby Orr days. Their perfect six-game road trip was their best set of away games since the 1971-72 season, during the days of the “Big, Bad Bruins.”
Yet since a March 5th loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Bruins have just been flat-out bad. They haven’t earned a regulation or overtime win since they beat Tampa Bay 3-1 on March 3rd. Overall, the Bruins are 1-3-3 in their last seven games, with their only win coming via a shootout against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
Their 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight might be the lowest point in this rocky stretch of games.
Vezina Trophy candidate Tim Thomas didn’t make it through the entire game, as he was pulled after Leafs grinder Mike Brown made it 4-1 around the middle of the second period. Thomas allowed four goals on 22 shots while James Reimer continues to be the reason Toronto still has playoff hopes, stopping 35 out of 37 shots.
Joey Crabb scored a goal and two assists and Nazem Kadri scored his first NHL goal (and added an assist) as some of the less integral Toronto players made the biggest impact.
It seems odd to blame a stretch of road games for Boston’s struggles after they made headlines by winning six in a row away from home, but maybe that’s part of the problem. Five of their last six games have been outside Boston, so maybe wear and tear has something to do with their struggles.
There are, however, a few reasons to be optimistic for the future. They still hold a three point lead over the Montreal Canadiens for the Northeast Division title and also have one more game remaining than the Habs. Better yet, they play six of their next seven games at home and eight of their last 11 in Boston overall.
So, obviously, the Bruins should be a little concerned. Being able to roll with the punches is an essential ability during the trying playoff months. Perhaps they remain a stride or two short of true elite status, then.
Don’t be surprised if they flip the script during the home stretch, though. If they don’t, then it’s officially time to get worried.