The season started with all sorts of talk about the Bruins suffering from a Stanley Cup hangover. That all got put away when they went on a 10-game winning streak and ran away with the Northeast Division title.
With how the Bruins season ended in a seventh game in overtime to the Capitals, however, what the Bruins are saying makes you wonder just how long a hangover can last. Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic tell CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty finding motivation this season was a lot harder and winning the Cup had something to do with it.
“It played a part in it. We had a long year, a short schedule and another tough season again this year. It made it a challenge to get prepared this year,” said Marchand. “You don’t notice it until after it happens. You’re obviously excited for the playoffs, but the hype of last year didn’t really feel the same [this year]. But at some point you have to find a way to get yourself engaged and prepare for the game.”
Lucic compared how much hockey the Bruins played the last two seasons and the schedule it provides to being like a baseball schedule. Lots of play and not a lot of time off. If words like these sound familiar, it’s because we heard the same from Chicago’s Duncan Keith last season as Brian Hedger from NHL.com shared when the Blackhawks found themselves down against Vancouver.
“This year for me was frustrating,” the reigning Norris Trophy winner said at O’Hare Airport after the Hawks returned from Vancouver. “I felt like it had really good stretches and then there (were) times I would just … I don’t want to say … lose focus, but just was not really … interested for whatever reason.”
Is the Stanley Cup hangover just a convenient excuse or, gasp, a narrative to play along with or is there truth in just being worn out and not having the motivation?
A funny thing happens when you string together a nine-game win streak — all that talk about a Stanley Cup hangover disappears. After spending most of the first month losing in frustrating ways, the Bruins are now taking those frustrations out on everyone they play. Instead of coffee and toast to shake off a hangover, the Bruins are going to devour opponents.
While the Bruins weren’t exactly scoring a ton of goals for the first month of the year, during their nine-game streak they’ve turned on the offense in a big way. The B’s have 42 goals over those nine games and have done their duty defensively as well dealing out three shutouts in that time and giving up just 14 goals.
Lighting the way for Boston are Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin. Thomas has been his usual stellar self in goal while Seguin is taking the league by storm with his offensive breakout this season. With 11 goals and 21 points this year, Seguin is showing that he’ll be just fine in Boston. His line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand is proving to give other teams headaches and it’s Seguin’s skills that are making life impossible for opponents.
As for Thomas, ho-hum his numbers this season look just like his numbers in goal last year when he ran away with the Vezina Trophy. Thomas doing his thing last night in shutting out Montreal shows that even when Boston’s offense doesn’t show up, he can still win them the game.
While everyone’s decidedly hot on Pittsburgh right now, sleeping on the Bruins might provide for a rude awakening come playoff time if things shake out that way.
After melting down against the Hurricanes last night, the Bruins are now 2-4-0 to start the season. The Bruins have been talking a lot early this season about how they’re not dealing with a Stanley Cup hangover, but after seeing Boston snap off at just about anything Carolina did to upset them and with “frustration” being the big word thrown around, it’s hard to not buy into the hangover talk.
Plenty of teams that goes deep into the playoffs, and even Stanley Cup winners, will go through the motions early in the year. It’s almost part of how thins go, but the Bruins’ troubles look a bit different given how they’re reacting. Too little emotion or way too much of it makes it look like the Bruins are trying to find themselves all over again.
For a team that lost just a handful of players in Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, and Tomas Kaberle while gaining Joe Corvo and Benoit Pouliot that’s a lot of scrambling being done to find their way back to playing “Bruins hockey.” It’s all well and good to blow off steam in a game they’re struggling in, and the B’s will do that now and again, but for Boston the inconsistent play and the losses are the bigger problems. There are only so many things Zdeno Chara can do as captain to right the ship.
If they don’t find their groove soon, the chatter about a hangover will linger on like a bad headache a night after a bender with your friends. The Bruins just need to tap into what got them rolling along last year. Tough but smart play will win the day. Finding that level when everything seems to be going wrong, however, is the hard part.