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'It's Not Bruins Hockey'

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON - Not much has gone right for the Black and Gold in the past two games.

A 2-1 loss in Detroit on Thursday night was followed up with a 4-0 shutout at the hands of the Capitals 48 hours later, back on home ice.

The boo birds began raining down at TD Garden as the clock was ticking late in the third period.

A frustrated Milan Lucic held his cool late in the game after getting tangled with Mike Green, but he was plenty heated in the locker room postgame.

"That’s not the team that we are," said Lucic. "We’re always a team that has a lot of fight and fights its way back in the situations, no matter what they are."

"So we’ve got to figure it out here and hopefully after two games like that, we can take this as a wake-up call and move forward."

The Bruins managed 29 shots on Braden Holtby, but not one made it through. They went 0-for-4 on the power play, while the lethal Caps went 2-for-4, thanks to easy fires from the left circle by Alex Ovechkin and Green.

Ovechkin put Washington up 2-0 in the first period. Green adding the insurance in the second, and John Carlson capped off the 4-0 shutout in the final two minutes of the game.

"You know, it's tough to put into words. We were outworked, we were outbattled and just outplayed throughout the course of 120 minutes, not just 60," said Chris Kelly, known to be a vocal presence in the room. He was very adamant with his words.

"I think the only positive I can think of is… it's Game 3. Other than that, it's two poor efforts."

"Two hockey teams outplayed us in 120 minutes of hockey," Kelly added. "It's not Bruins' hockey, it's not the way we play hockey. Expectations are way higher than that for this group. It's upsetting."

Through the first three games of the season, the Bruins have managed just three goals.

"We can’t be really saying that the offense is struggling. I think that we're all struggling," said a straightforward Zdeno Chara, who said the team was addressed. "We didn’t even follow up being better [from Detroit] for tonight’s game."

"We just got embarrassed and I think we all have got to really look at what we can start doing better and really take pride in that, because a game like tonight, it's not acceptable."

"It's something that we have to correct, and do it really fast, because you can be saying whatever you want, it's early in the season - but these games are as important as a game in the midseason or at end of the season, so everybody has to be a lot better."

The Bruins had pockets of pressure, but were unable to sustain it. The trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith made some plays happen, but each ended the night with a -1 rating. Kelly, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson showed effort as a line. But the Bruins' usual four-line attack wasn't happening.

They are still without David Krejci (undisclosed, eligible to play Monday's game against Colorado) and Gregory Campbell (core, no timetable) due to injuries. The lines have been makeshift.

In the third period, Head Coach Claude Julien rotated lines, putting Ryan Spooner on the wing with Soderberg and Eriksson, and Lucic with Kelly and Matt Fraser.

Daniel Paille, Craig Cunningham and Bobby Robins stayed together as a fourth line, for the most part. Robins took a minor penalty for kneeing and a five for fighting, playing only 45 seconds in the first period.

Sure, there are some "newer" faces to the lineup, but Chara won't hear that as any sort of excuse.

"That’s not it. I don’t think that’s something that is the reason why we are playing the way we are," stated Chara. "I think that we all are familiar with each other, most of us. You can’t really be saying that we have a few guy, new guys, and that’s the reason - absolutely not."

"We all know that the changes, adding some players - it shouldn’t make play the way we were tonight, so that’s not it."

"We shouldn’t let that affect us," Bergeron agreed. "I think we’re a team that showed it in the past that we can play. Whoever is in the lineup, we’ve got to do the job, and Claude has done a good job of that with us, and it’s definitely not an excuse. We’ve definitely got to be a lot better."

"It's a team-wide thing - it's not just a few guys," Kelly said. "You guys can see it just as much as we can. It's not a passing thing, or a positioning thing - it's a working thing, no matter who you're playing with. You could play with two total strangers, and all you have to do is go out and work hard."

The Bruins weren't out of this one on the scoresheet. Down 2-0 heading to the second, and 3-0 heading to the third, this is a team that has never given up, and has always pushed to the end, no matter the score.

"We’ve got to realize that maybe in the past, we were good at that and we’ve got to show it on the ice, and we didn’t do that," said Bergeron. "I mean, we can’t just rely on that and think that things are going to come easy. If we don’t show up, we’re not going to get the results."

They still generated scoring chances, but midway through the final frame, the bench was lifeless.

"Mentally, we have to be stronger," said Chara. "We can’t be hanging our heads when we are down or getting scored on, we've just got to fight through it. And, at the same time, physically our body language - everything has to be better."

"It’s something that we have to face the music and really answer. We’ve done it before - we've just got to go back to square one [on Sunday] and start from simplifying and playing our game. But it has to start somewhere."

"We’ve got to keep our chins up and fight through it because nobody is going to do it for us," said Lucic. "We have to do it ourselves and starting with myself, I have to be better and take charge in doing what I do best, and try to lead that way."

It's not about just one player stepping, though; it needs to happen collectively as a group.

"We're the definition of a hockey team. Everyone contributes. Everyone works hard. Everyone works together. No one person bigger than the team, and that's why we've had success in the past," said Kelly. "Line after line, wave after, everyone goes out and plays the same way."

"Some guys have more talent than others and are able to capitalize on certain opportunities, but for the most part, everyone works hard and everyone plays the same way, and that's just not the case right now."

The Bruins have gone through low points before. During the course of a season, they put up bad showings. But it's not normally this early in the season, and they usually bounce back.

"It has nothing to do with skill. If you're outskilled in a game, then you just tip your hat to the other team. When it comes to battling and working hard, it's just a mindset, and I think our mind needs to get right in order to do that," Kelly said.

Julien will be reevaluating the lineup after the past two games. He could be changing lines and personnel moving forward.

But the effort? That's up to those in the Spoked-B, and they're well aware of that.

"I wish there was a quick fix or a one-word answer that could straighten it," said Kelly. "I think it's just each guy, looking in the mirror and realizing that they can play better, and do more."

The Bruins will be on the ice at TD Garden on Sunday, before next hosting the Colorado Avalanche in a Monday matinee.

"You come to practice [Sunday] and you better come to work hard," said Kelly. "You don't want to dwell on it, but you want to learn from it and realize that that kind of play can't continue."

"And if it does, we're not going to be successful. We need to come [Sunday], and be ready to work."

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