- With three strong games put together at home, though only one resulted in two points, the Bruins felt positive about the strides they were making heading into the final stretch before the postseason.
But on Tuesday in Philadelphia, the forward progress was halted by the Flyers, 5-2, with the Bruins allowing five goals for only the third time this season. The B's pair of tallies came on defenseman Wade Redden's first as a Bruin and David Krejci's 10th of the season.
"That was definitely a step back in our game," said Coach Julien following the loss at the Wells Fargo Center. "Really poor puck management tonight, and poor decision-making. That to me is a reflection of guys not being ready to play. At one point, they've got to take accountability of being ready."
"Too much of that lately, and not enough focus. We're running out of time here to get this stuff going. You always hope it's some sort of wake up call, but the way the season's gone, you're questioning whether you will or not. Only time will tell."
Just 1:40 into the game, Scott Hartnell converted a Bruins' turnover into a quick snap shot over Anton Khudobin's glove to put the Flyers up early. But Redden tied it, 1-1, on his first as a Bruin, putting home a rebound off a Jaromir Jagr shot, with Carl Soderberg getting the second assist.
The B's seemed to start settling into a rhythm, but a game of turnovers ensued and two Flyers' goals seven seconds apart past the midpoint of the second period gave Philly the edge.
First, Matt Read batted the puck out of the air and into the back of a half-open net, after Khudobin made a big kick save. A quick blink later, Zdeno Chara was trying to rim the puck around the back of the net and a bad bounce saw the puck go right through the crease, off Khudobin's stick and in.
"I'm trying to push it behind the net, the puck was stuck on the boards, I'm trying to put it behind the net to my D partner, and it took a weird bounce," said Chara following the loss, on the unlucky circumstance.
"We were making some strides forward and now, obviously, we took two steps back again."
"Not good enough, that's for sure."
Khudobin was pulled after the third goal, one he reacted to right away on the ice, slashing his stick on the post and then heading down the tunnel heated and not returning until midway through the final period.
"I think this is that kind of goal, when something doesn't go your way, pretty much," said Khudobin, who mentioned he didn't want the puck to be loose right in front, but that he turned his stick way too much on the reaction.
"It happens sometimes, but it's not a good feeling at all."
Coach Julien opted to put Khudobin back in goal after Tuukka Rask finished out the rest of the second and part of the third.
"I tried to control my emotions, but I was pretty angry, but just tried to kind of calm down," the B's netminder added, before noting he was glad he could get back in goal at the end to try and have a bit of recovery.
The loss to the Flyers came against a team that has already been knocked out of the playoffs, a team depleted on defense though always armed with an arsenal of offense.
"They've got a good offense and you've got to give them credit for that," said Julien. "We talked about it before the game, that we had to make sure we took care of their offense and defended well, and if we could spend some time in their own end we thought they were a little inexperienced back there and if we managed the puck and were strong on it, we had a good chance."
"But, their D's played hard tonight and they were more determined than the rest of our team was and they made it adequate. They ended up playing a pretty good game as a team; we just couldn't counter that because we weren't' ready to pay the price."
The Bruins may have out-hit the Flyers on the scoresheet, 30-26, but the physicality wasn't to the same level the Black & Gold had been inching towards in their past three games, and the emotional attachment wasn't as great as it had been at home in front of their Boston fans.
So, was fatigue plaguing the B's at all this time out?
"Let's stay away from making excuses because it's not going to work," said Julien. "That's not going to work."
"We have to take responsibility and quit hiding behind those excuses."
"These last three games we need a wake up call mentally and we need to be willing to do the stuff that's given us success and right now," said Coach Julien. "We have it sometimes, but we don't have it all the time."
The Flyers pulled away 4-1, as their leading scorer Jakub Voracek set a new career-high in goals (21), finding speed and space through the neutral zone and beat Rask on the breakaway.
Krejci's stickhandling made it a two-goal game with 11:40 left in the third, but a killer goal 13 seconds later "sucked the energy out of us," said the centerman.
"It's frustrating, I think that we had a good few games back in Boston. Obviously wanted to come out hard, get a good game again," added Krejci, who's hoping his first goal in 10 games will loosen his grip and get his confidence going.
"Just too many giveaways, too many turnovers. Hopefully we can regroup and forget about this game. We've got three games to go, so we have to focus on those three games."
The Bruins' next trio of games before the playoffs features Tampa Bay, Washington and Ottawa.
"Well, it's a little bit of everything," Coach said, on the priorities of this final stretch, as they try for the top of the Northeast and the No. 2 seed. "These last three games we need a wake up call mentally and we need to be willing to do the stuff that's given us success."
Boychuk Gets Rest
With nine healthy defensemen (aside from the one game missed by McQuaid on April 21 with a lower-body injury), Coach Julien has been rotating out blueliners to give them some much-needed rest before the playoffs. Johnny Boychuk took on that role Tuesday night, as Chara and Dougie Hamilton paired together, along with Wade Redden/Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference/Adam McQuaid.