BOSTON — The team that showed up to play Toronto and Montreal earlier this week was not the team that the Bruins are used to being.
Something, they said, needs to change before the puck drops against Carolina on Saturday afternoon.
“No one’s happy with the results that we had [on the road trip],” said defenseman Adam McQuaid prior to Saturday’s tilt versus the Hurricanes. “It’s almost embarrassing. So you learn from it. At the same time, we need to kind of try and move on from it, and hopefully that starts today.
"We need to make sure that we’re focused and ready to go for a full game here, and we need to get back on track.”
A full 60-minute effort. More emotional engagement. More focus. Those are the credos the Bruins have preached since the horn sounded at the Bell Centre on Thursday night at the end of a 5-1 loss to Montreal. That came on the heels of a 6-1 defeat to Toronto the night before.
Two games and 11 goals allowed is not the kind of effort the Bruins are accustomed to putting forth. On Saturday, they aim to make sure that they stay focused and keep things simple.
For them, that will be the key to turning things around after a two-game skid.
“I think we need to start with some emotion and maintain that throughout the whole game and realize that if we get in trouble, not to get down and continue to work,” said forward Daniel Paille. “We have a team here that we’re playing against that [had] struggled at the beginning, but they’ve had a good month so far, and they’re going to try to rely on that. For us, we’re going to have to be a lot better.”
For the Bruins, though, the Hurricanes cannot be the focus on Saturday. For them, the onus must be on playing their game, and nothing else.
“We know they’re a good team, and a lot of good players and good goaltending, so it doesn’t really change anything for us,” said defenseman Dougie Hamilton. “I think it’s more just focusing on us and trying to play our game, play hard and not really worry about them too much.
"Just focus on ourselves, and if we can do what we want, I think we’re an effective team, like I said. It’s just a matter of doing it.”
Boston is also looking to be a more formidable, physical team against the Hurricanes. During the road trip in Canada, that trademark physical presence was very obviously missing, and the B’s are intent on getting it back.
“Even though we’ve missed some guys before, we do have some players that can play that way,” Paille said. “If you go down on any line — with [Milan Lucic] there, down to me and [Gregory Campbell], and even with Carl [Soderberg] and [Loui Eriksson] — I’ve seen it from them.
“So for us, I think the majority of our defense are solid, strong and physical. So we just have to make sure that we play consistent that way because that is definitely one of our forces in our game that makes us the better team.”
McQuaid said that physicality is a key part of the Bruins identity, and regardless of which players are on the ice and which are out due to injury, that element of their game simply must be there on Saturday.
“Being physical, being engaged — those are what makes our team, our team,” he said. “We need to see more of that, and I think that’s an important emphasis on any given night. We need to make sure that’s in our game.”
Earlier this season, the Bruins struggled with inconsistency. They would forge a full, five-man, 60-minute effort one night, and the next, they would be loose defensively, and the effort would only be there in spurts.
During their five-game winning streak that came to an end on Wednesday night, the B’s showed the kind of character that has become characteristic of this team in recent years. They didn’t get down and out if they made a mistake. They fought back. They played till the final horn.
That, Paille said, is precisely what the B’s must do on Saturday.
“We definitely don’t want to be an inconsistent team, and we’re capable of doing it — we’ve just got to make sure that we stay focused, and that’s going to be the key, and not get down,” he said. “There’s going to be times where we’re going to be frustrated throughout the whole game, and [we] just got to make sure that we keep ourselves up and continue to work and fight.”