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Julien: Nobody in There is Enjoying Losing

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON - The Bruins are 2-5-2 in their last nine games, and clearly not where they want to be.

It goes without saying that this hasn't been a fun stretch for the team.

As the Bruins hit the road Monday for three games in four nights against Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg, the urgency was felt from the group.

"There's nobody in that dressing room that is enjoying losing. There's nobody in that dressing room that enjoys seeing us where we are right now," Julien said before the team traveled to Nashville. "So, don’t think that those guys don’t care."

"I think what we have to find here is a solution - not wondering whether they care or not - and the solution is we've got to be able to find a little bit more out of everybody and we need to step up. And that's what you got to do when you’re in that situation. That's what all teams have to do when they’re in that situation, so there's no real mystery or surprise there."

"It’s up to us to battle our way out of it. Nobody’s going to do it for us."

The Black and Gold spent nearly an hour and a half on the ice Monday morning at TD Garden. They started light, swapping right-handed and left-handed sticks for a drill to get them loose, and then went to the grind. Julien held a few long huddles, getting the coaches' message across.

"It comes from us, it's in our control," said defenseman Dougie Hamilton. "We're going to have to come together as a team and change things and start executing better, and make things happen."

The team's lack of execution led to its latest loss, coming 3-2 to Ottawa in a shootout on Saturday. Tthe locker room has been full of Bruins speaking about the need to play more as a team, consistently - playing 'Bruins hockey.'

"Trying to get more chemistry going and doing things for one another," said Hamilton. "Right now, there's times where we're not playing as a team and I think we just have to have that team attitude that we're going to be hard to play against. We've kind of gotten away from that, and we just have to work hard and try to get that back."

In Hamilton's two previous seasons as a Bruin, the team reached the Final and won the Presidents' Trophy. There were ups and downs to both seasons, as there always are, but this inconsistency isn't the norm for the Spoked-B.

"We have high expectations and right now, we're not living up to them," said six-year Bruin Daniel Paille. "We haven't been playing [the way we should be playing and] that's definitely going to bring a negative atmosphere around [from the outside], but we have to change that as soon as possible."

The negativity hasn't crept into the dressing room. It can't if the Bruins want to turn this around 30 games into the season.

"I don’t think we’re feeling sorry for ourselves," Tuukka Rask said following Saturday's game. "But we’ve talked about waking up and putting in the effort and doing all the right things. We’re showing we can do it and then sometimes we just sleep and don’t do them. The wake up call should have been a few weeks ago."

"We’ve been talking about it enough and it’s not going to get any better if we keep talking about it. We’ve just got to bury our heads down and work hard and good things are going to happen. But it’s really frustrating when you look at these mistakes and stuff we’re doing out there night in and night out. It’s just not Bruins hockey."

"We keep seeing that everywhere - that we've lost that 'Bruins hockey' and I think that it's true," Hamilton said following Monday's practice. "So I think you can talk all you want, I think all of us in the room, we can talk all we want about what we need to do and how we need to play, how we need to do things, but it doesn't do anything if you're not performing on the ice."

"We all just have to do our jobs on the ice and focus on that, and perform - not just talk about it."

As of Monday, the Bruins are out of a playoff spot. They have fallen to sixth in the Atlantic Division. They are tied in points with the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers at 32, but both of those teams have two games in hand on the Bruins.

"We realize right now that we've put ourselves into a corner and we're definitely going to have to get out of it," said Paille. "I do think Ottawa is a good team, but we can't be losing to teams that are right near us or below us in the standings. For us to success, we're going to have to win those games and I think losing that, I think everyone realized that we need to be better."

"And even having Zee back in the lineup, you know, for him it's going to take some time to get back, so we've got to make sure we help him out to get confident in his game."

"It's important for us to just realize what the main goal is, and that's to get a playoff spot and show the desperation that is there at times, to be there throughout the whole game," Paille added.

Captain Zdeno Chara is one of the first Bruins to always 'look in the mirror,' no matter his performance. He's constantly striving to find another level. Returning after 19 games out of the lineup, it's entirely understandable that his play would not be exactly where he wants it to be.

"I can be here and talking about how difficult it is, but that’s the way it is," Chara said after Saturday's matchup, his second game back from injury. "My job is to get to that performance where I need to be as soon as I can, as quick as I can."

The Bruins have had an off season so far at both ends of the ice. Their rash of injuries in October and November, especially with Chara and David Krejci out of action, can be looked at as a reason for that.

But even with Chara back, and Krejci expected to return soon (he traveled with the team to Nashville for the road trip), this squad knows it needs more from everyone.

They've been "burning the candle from both ends," as Rask put it on Saturday, with lack of execution both defensively and offensively.

After 30 games, the Bruins have 74 goals-for to rank 22nd in the League and 77 goals-against to rank 14th.

"It's definitely frustrating with the way everyone is going right now, with their offensive numbers," said Paille. "But we have to focus on the part that we're lacking as well, and that's what's been our strong point for years, and that's been our defensive game - and that's been slipping."

"So we can definitely all pick that up, but of course, we need to play more aggressive in the offensive zone and contribute a little bit more and help everyone out."

The Bruins' face three Central Division opponents this week in Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg. There was much attention on their recent trip out West being a tough test. This trip may prove to be just as tough.

"For us, we've just got to - we know all three games are going to be tough games - but I think we just have to focus on the type of game we want to play, and that's bringing that competitive level to the level it needs to be at and play the system that way that it needs to be played," said Milan Lucic.

"Bringing that emotion and excitement into wanting to win some games against some good teams, and I think if we have that attitude, we're going to give ourselves a chance to have success."

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