BOSTON — As is customary at the end of every season, the Black & Gold all gathered at TD Garden on Monday morning to wrap up 2015-16 and speak with reporters.
Unless the season ends with winning it all, the players who filter in and out of the Bruins’ locker room are still disappointed, frustrated and in disbelief that they won’t be suiting up in the Spoked-B for another five to six months.
“No doubt, that was very emotional,” Captain Zdeno Chara said of Saturday’s defeat to Ottawa. “I’m still very upset about the situation, and yeah, it’s going to be there for a while.”
“Obviously, it’s a situation that I hate to be in, and I think we all hate to be in.”
“When you win, everybody’s a part of winning,” Chara said. “We have to approach it the same way – when we lose, everybody’s a part of losing. It’s on everybody.”
For a span of about three hours, players filtered in and out of the locker room speaking with media. It didn’t matter who spoke — every player felt the same.
“Of course, I feel the same way that I felt after the game, so it’s no different,” said Patrice Bergeron.
The alternate captain was asked to dissect the season, to try and pinpoint the reason why they had just barely missed the postseason for the second straight year.
“A lot of things — I think we lacked the finish, scoring-wise, and also a lot of breakdowns defensively. I mean, it’s tough to really pinpoint one thing,” said Bergeron. “It’s definitely disappointing. We talked about learning from that last year and this year the same thing happened, so it’s tough to be here and be standing here and trying to find the answers because right now, we don’t have any.”
It is tough to not lament every game that didn’t earn the Bruins at least a point. That would have been the difference.
“Throughout the year, you really have to realize how desperate you have to play in each and every game, and how you can’t throw away points at any time when you have leads,” said Brad Marchand. “I think we might have had eight or nine two-goal leads that we blew this year, so I think that those are the ones that will ultimately cost you a playoff spot. If we would have won one or two of those, then we’d be in, so I think next year, we have to realize how big every single point is every night.”
“It’s frustrating,” said David Krejci. “But you know what? We don’t feel sorry for ourselves. It’s our fault and we have to live with that feeling for the next four, five months.”
For players that are used to playing in the postseason, this time is difficult to accept.
“This is always a hard time of year,” said a visibly perturbed Matt Beleskey. “You’re lost with what to do, you’ve got no schedule or whatever. So it was obviously not how we wanted to end the year, and it will take a bit to get over that.”
The Senators’ second period barrage — that led to a 4-1 lead and ultimately a 6-1 win for Ottawa — was still on his mind.
“It was a trend a bit this season, we’d have games like that, and it’s unfortunate for our fans that it was at home most of the time,” said Beleskey. “They deserve better. We want to put a better product out there for them. I don’t think there’s really one reason you could say — it just seemed to happen. It’s something we need to change for next season.”
With expectations not met, it’s understandable for the players to be asked about possible changes coming in the offseason.
“I mean, we’ll see. I don’t know what to expect,” said Bergeron. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with the team so I guess we’ll see.”
“I believe in what we have,” he said. “I think Donnie [Don Sweeney] is a very smart general manager, and he’s going to figure it out, and we’ll see what happens. It’s really out of my hands, but I believe we can be competitive next year, for sure.”
Tuukka Rask believes that as well, and wants to help make that happen.
“I’ve loved every minute being here, and I plan to be here many years to come,” said Rask. “So I’m in for the long run, and I want to be part of the solution here, and bring this team back to the playoffs and bring the Cup back, so that’s where my head’s at.”