TAMPA, Fla. - Following a back-to-back in D.C. and Sunrise against the Capitals and Panthers, the Bruins did not hold a practice on Friday in Tampa. They next face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
With the team off and, as a result, no media availability, General Manager Peter Chiarelli made himself available to the Boston media at the team's hotel.
Not surprisingly, the GM was asked many questions about the disappointment of the club slipping out of a playoff position with Thursday night's 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.
To make the postseason, Boston now needs a win over Tampa Bay, and either the Ottawa Senators to lose in regulation to Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, or the Pittsburgh Penguins to only pick up one point between their final two games, against the Islanders on Friday night and then the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
The Bruins could get some luck on their side. But it's a frustrating position for them to be in, especially because they controlled their own destiny earlier this week, when they had a game in hand, and saw the Caps shut them out 3-0.
If they had next squeezed out a win over Florida, they still would have had the upper-hand on Ottawa, who raced to 3-0 win over the New York Rangers half an hour before the Bruins' loss.
"Well, up until these last two games, we had a stretch where we had some luck, and we had a good push, and we had some results," Chiarelli told reporters in Tampa. "Prior to that, we’ve squandered some opportunities. I look at that a little bit like — and we’ve squandered more than we’ve had the luck go our way, which is on us."
"Usually that evens out — usually you win some you don’t deserve to, and you lose some you should have won, but to me, the ledger is on the other side this time."
"And then we had a push, a pretty good push, and then these last two games have been disappointing. Disappointing, and we’re having trouble scoring - not generating chances, but we’re having trouble scoring, and that came back to bite us the other night in Washington, and even last night [in Sunrise]. We had a real strong start, and we score on all those chances in the first period, it’s a different game. So, really disappointed."
"We’re still mathematically alive, and things can happen, but we’ve put ourselves in this position."
Following Thursday's loss in Sunrise, Head Coach Claude Julien spoke about not getting the maximum effort from every player.
"I spoke of the will to score, and to me, there’s a collective will," said Chiarelli. "You see these teams making pushes, and I haven’t seen that."
"And again, we had that going to a certain degree in those five, six games, but there has to be a better level of that."
Though Chiarelli was fielding plenty of questions related to the season as a whole, he was trying to stay away from any postmortem talk, given that the Bruins' hopes haven't been fully dashed.
"Again, I don’t want to get into the postmortem, and you’ll have a chance next week or when we talk to go through all of this stuff," said the GM, when asked if the roster was to blame for the step back this season. "That’s not why I’m talking today."
"There’s issues at every level that have to be looked at, and that’s where we are today. We can go in depth on that stuff at the postmortem conference. That’s not really why I was talking today."
Whether the Bruins make it to the postseason or not, the season as a whole will be fully reviewed.
"We put ourselves in this position, and I consider it a failure and it's a failure on everybody's part," said Chiarelli. "But being a failure doesn't mean there has to be a complete overhaul of everything. Guys fail, teams fail and they get back on their horse. "
"So, again, I consider it a failure, but you don't always succeed in this business, you don't always hit the ball out of the park all the time, and you've got to get back and do your job and we've shown we can do that. But you know, right now, it's pretty disappointing."
With Game No. 82 looming, the Black and Gold will soon know their fate. It's an uncomfortable position to be in, and one not taken lightly.
But on Friday, there was still a chance.
And if - by fate - the Bruins make it in, they can wipe the slate clean, right?
"Yeah, absolutely," said Chiarelli. "You can say that about teams out West [too]. You’ve got to get in. Anything can happen once you’re in."