"When we did win battles -- there probably weren't a lot of them -- we were careless with the puck after. We would just throw pucks at net. We weren't patient with it. We didn't hold onto it. That's a big key to our game. We're big and strong and fast. Guys hold onto the puck and make it really hard for other teams. We cycle the puck well. We use our defensemen well. We weren't doing that at all."
-- Bruins' Mark Recchi
Luckily for the Bruins, Carolina experienced more mental lapses and made more mistakes on the ice in Game 1. But Game 2 proved to be another story. Carolina was sharp from the opening puck drop, while the Bruins seemed to fall deeper into a mental abyss.
"We did pretty much zero percent of the things we set out to do in terms of improving on our performance versus Game 1," defenseman Aaron Ward said. "We didn't have it. I don't know what it was. It wasn't focused, we just seemed out of sorts at times."
Coach Claude Julien agreed.
"We weren't sharp," Julien said bluntly. "We didn't play as hard as we could have. We did in the third period when we started to play a little harder, but we need to play like that for 60 minutes not just 20."
To some players, Game 2 was almost a complete reversal of Game 1, with the Hurricanes sticking to their game plan and the Bruins veering away from it.
"You know we weren't the best in Game 1 but we weren't forcing as many plays and that's what hurt us in Game 2," forward Patrice Bergeron said. As an example, Bergeron missed an empty-net shot in the first period that maybe could have turned the tide. While he said to have moved on from that specific play, he did think the Bruins got more frustrated as the game went on.
"You always think about it, but the puck was rolling and I caught it flat," Bergeron said. "Yes, I should have put it in, but there are so many plays in any game that happen. You think about it, but you can't think about it anymore. There were more chances for all of us. I think we just got frustrated a bit when we weren't capitalizing."
A player the Bruins look to when the team doesn't have it mentally or physically is captain Zdeno Chara. Game 2, however, was one of those rare nights when even the Norris Trophy candidate didn't have an answer. But as Julien pointed out, the team can't rely solely on Chara to solve their problems.
"I think if you take the good games that he's played and the tougher games that he's had, they outnumber those (bad ones) by quite a bit," Julien said after his team held a meeting, but no practice at Ristuccia Arena. "It was a tougher night for the whole team. I guess because he gets a lot of credit for the way he plays, when he's not on top of his games the first thing we do is notice it. But he's going to be fine."
A reporter questioned whether Chara might be battling an injury and Julien quickly blew out that flame before it even became a spark.
"He's 100 percent, no questions asked," Julien said. "Honestly, there're no issues there. I don't know where that's coming from. But there are no issues there at all."
Veteran Mark Recchi was confident the Bruins know what they need to do to bounce back in Game 3 and regain the series lead.
"That's the biggest thing that we noticed today on the video," Recchi said. "When we did win battles -- there probably weren't a lot of them -- we were careless with the puck after. We would just throw pucks at net. We weren't patient with it. We didn't hold on to it. That's a big key to our game. We're big and strong and fast. Guys hold onto the puck and make it really hard for other teams. We cycle the puck well. We use our defensemen well. We weren't doing that at all. We haven't done that very well in the first two games."
Recchi, a former Hurricane knows the Bruins have a big challenge ahead of them and will have to deal with what he believes is one of the most raucous crowds in the NHL at the RBC Center.
"It'll be loud. It's an energetic building, it's loud and they get into it," Recchi said. "They'll be tail-gating all afternoon on Wednesday and they just feed off the energy. It's going to be loud, so we're going to have to prepare for it. It's one of the loudest buildings I've ever been in, period. It's the same as Montreal. You have to be ready to counter their start, push back and challenge them as well."