And after a disappointing 4-2 setback to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Boston Bruins (28-12-1, 1st in the Northeast Division, 2nd in the Eastern Conference) have plenty to think about as they rest up for Monday's tilt versus the Florida Panthers (21-14-8, 1st in the Southeast, 3rd in the East).
"Well I think like you saw last game [against Montreal] we didn’t play or best game, but we still had a chance to win the game," said playmaker David Krejci
, who leads the B's in assists (12-25-37). "In the past, we didn’t play our best game, but we still find a way to win and that didn’t happen [vs. Carolina].
"We’re doing some little things wrong and we have to correct that."
Hey, it's not as if the Bruins are slumping.
With a respectable 4-2 record in January, and with 57 points (just three behind the league-leading New York Rangers) and games in hand on the four teams ahead of them in the NHL standings, Boston has put themselves in good stead for home ice in the playoffs.
But with only 12 points between first and ninth in the Eastern Conference, the B's don't have much room for error and know that they need to quickly return to the form that made them so formidable in the final two months of 2011.
"I think it’s just kind of been creeping up on us lately; that we haven’t been at our best," said defenseman Adam McQuaid
(1-3-4). "At the same time, [that] we’ve been able to win and getting the result that we wanted, but not the way we wanted masked the way we were playing a bit."
But, again, it's not as if the Bruins are horrible and perhaps that's what makes the cause of the club's current malaise so hard to pinpoint.
"Last night reminded us how much we hate losing and what we have to do to be successful. Sometimes those are good lessons."
Veteran forward Chris Kelly
(13-10-23) echoed that sentiment, but also implied there's no reason to panic.
"We’ve played extremely well, bounced back after a tough start in October, but this league is 'What can you do for me now?' not 'What have you done for me [before]?'.
"We can realize we’ve been playing well, but we’re at the halfway mark and wins get a lot harder in the second half."
By the way, Kelly doesn't want to hear anything about a busier schedule.
"Everyone goes through it - it’s not an excuse were looking for," said Kelly. "Everyone goes through tough times in the year, and maybe it’s time to get on a little bit of a roll and play some games back-to-back."
That's exactly what's coming up for the B's - back-to-back games with the Panthers on Monday and the Tampa Bay Lighting (17-22-4) on Tuesday.
Krejci sees this week as an opportunity for Boston to return to form.
"We’re at the halfway point and there’s still a lot of hockey left," he said. "We’re sitting in a good position so far, we have to correct little things and get back at it tomorrow."