A disappointing season has seen frustration snowball from game to game, and even practice to practice. That frustration breeds negativity within and around the team. Their shootout loss in Carolina on Sunday added further frustration to the mix.
On Tuesday, newly named CEO Charlie Jacobs made forthcoming statements regarding the current state of the team, 40 games into the season and out of a playoff spot.
"For us to be a team that’s out of the playoffs is absolutely unacceptable," Jacobs said. "Everybody in the executive offices is fully aware how I feel and they feel the same way, which brings us to this evaluation process and it’s fluid right now. I can’t say at any moment we have a final decision other than to say that it’s been an utter disappointment and a failure, complete failure."
The words weren't taken lightly by the team. They know their current level of play is unacceptable.
But continuing down the path of disappointment and anger isn't going to lead them in the right direction.
Wednesday night's game in Pittsburgh agains the Penguins presents yet another opportunity for the Bruins to start turning their season around, and as much as it sounds too much like rainbows and sunshine, the only way they're going to do it is by being positive. Good thoughts make good things happen.
They need to actually believe they can turn their game around, before they are able to do it.
"You know, it's easier said than done," said Torey Krug. "We talk, we say all of the right things. Guys understand what we need to do, and there's no secrets on this team. Now it's just about going out there and accomplishing those things and making sure we're prepared physically and mentally to do those things."
Finding ways to be positive amidst plenty of frustration and negativity and scoring slumps isn't easy, but the air around the Bruins has felt a little lighter this week, especially heading into Wednesday's game.
Krug relayed a few signs in the locker room pregame that the team's attitude might be in a much better place mentally.
"A big part of it is having fun," he said simply. "Hockey's a game and I know it's our job, but at the same time, it's something that we grew up loving to play, and I think if we have that attitude and that approach, I think a lot of things change."
"So we've got to remember to have fun and just take care of business. A big part of it is playing with a smile on your face," he said, naturally, with a smile.
Developing a much better attitude around the team is a step, but translating it to the ice is the next challenge.
"It's about bringing energy," said Patrice Bergeron. "And when you're positive, and you have some emotion and bring some energy on the ice, I think it translates to good things that happen."
"So hopefully positivity can help bring us some more goals and some more wins."
The Bruins talk as a group, and they also talk with reporters every day. Their words are printed, and quoted, and tweeted, and are produced in video clips on television and the web.
They can't escape the words they've already spoken throughout the season, and the words they said on Wednesday morning before facing the Penguins. That's the nature of the game.
But they are tired of saying the same words over and over, only to not produce the desired results on the ice.
"We're lucky to have the guys that we do in this locker room, because of the chemistry and the culture we've been able to build over the last however many years, to have that type of chemistry and camaraderie," said Milan Lucic. "We just have to start doing it. We've been talking about the right type of things, but right now, it's just about - doing it."
Lucic spoke with conviction. He spoke about getting his own game back on track for the second half of the season, and the type of play that he and his teammates expect from him.
"Again, enough of talking about doing it. It's about time that I start doing it the way that I can this season," said Lucic.
Whether he was talking about his own play or his team's, it all boiled down to that same thought.
"Enough with the talking, it's time to start playing the way that we can."
Crosby Thinks B's Will Heat Up
The Bruins and Penguins have always been near the top of the Eastern Conference in recent years.
It must be surprising for Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby to see the Bruins struggling this season the way that they have, sitting a point out of a playoff spot through 40 games.
"A little bit, but they've had a lot of injuries and you know, there's a lot of time left," said Crosby. "It's halfway through and everyone's always going to have high expectations, and especially for them, but the injuries they've had to go through and to some key guys."
"I think with everyone back now, they'll start to win more games and get back to their game," Crosby paused, before looking up and offering with a smile, "But hopefully not too soon."
The energized Bruins should come out with fire on Wednesday night, playing with urgency. Getting the lead has to be a priority. It will only come if every player is focusing on his own job, and trusting the others to do the same.
"We’ve really worked on kind of galvanizing ourselves and making sure we’re in this together," said Julien. "Taking away the unnecessary pressure and frustration and try and turn that into positive energy, and that’s what we’re hoping to see here with our group here tonight, is that we go out there and play the way we know we can play."
"Every stage of these tough situations, you assess, and you analyze it. At one point, it was about stabilizing the number of goals against, and we’ve gotten better at that. We’ve talked about our special teams, which have been good, as of late — penalty kill, power play, no matter how many we have, and that’s not the issue. "
"Our 5-on-5 right now is what we need to improve, and that’s what we have to do tonight — play together as a unit, and trust, and our system has always been our best friend, and try not to do too much."
"We’re putting all the excuses aside," Julien added. "And we’re taking it upon ourselves as a group in there — players, coaches — and we know that the only way we’re going to get out of it is by working together. That’s never been a question."
Pastrnak Not In
David Pastrnak is with the Bruins in Pittsburgh, but won't be suiting up against the Penguins.
"He's not going to go tonight [against Pittsburgh]," said Julien. "He'll be going tomorrow [against New Jersey], as the organization has decided to obviously evaluate him with four games before they make that big decision on his contract status."
"They want to see him in the best situations possible and back-to-back is not a great way to do that," Julien continued. "He's just come back from the junior tournament, so again, another day here of practice with us and getting ready for [Thursday] is what we felt was best for him and for us as an organization to evaluate him."
Pastrnak, Matt Bartkowski, Jordan Caron and goalie Niklas Svedberg all stayed on the ice following pregame skate for extra work.
Projected Lineup vs. Pittsburgh 1/7
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Seth Griffith
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Craig Cunningham
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg - Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Starter: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Niklas Svedberg
Scratches: Matt Bartkowski, David Pastrnak, Jordan Caron