NEW YORK -- Prior to playing at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand was praising the effort, battle level and desire they've had in the Stanley Cup Playoff race this season compared to last season, when he complained about passengers and players not bringing it every night.
The sentiment from Marchand is all well and good, but the Bruins have eight games to make it matter. They're by no means a lock to make the playoffs, not after losing their season-high fourth game in a row, 5-2 to the New York Rangers.
The Bruins, who didn't make the playoffs last season, have a three-point cushion on a playoff spot, but the teams they're competing with, including the Florida Panthers, their opponent at TD Garden on Thursday, have at least one game in hand.
"Whether it's one of those off games, we'll find out soon enough [Thursday] night when we play Florida," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I said [Wednesday] morning we control our own destiny, and right now we're giving teams below us some hope, so we [have to] turn this around quick."
That was the hope going into the game against New York. Boston went 0-3-0 on its California road trip last week, but Julien said he felt the Bruins played well but couldn't score.
The Bruins lost 4-0 to the Anaheim Ducks despite outshooting them 38-26. They lost 2-1 to the Los Angeles Kings despite a 28-20 edge in shots, including 23-7 in the last two periods. They lost 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks to start the trip.
"We had a chance in every one of those games," Julien said.
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They didn't really have a chance against the Rangers, who took a 2-0 lead on two power-play goals in the first 11:39, forcing the Bruins to chase the rest of the way. New York had a 3-0 lead less than 26 minutes into the game and re-established a three-goal lead at 6:32 of the third period.
Boston finished with a 41-24 advantage in shots on goal, but chasing a two-goal lead for most of the game is a big reason the shot discrepancy was so large. New York was outshooting Boston 7-2 when it took a 2-0 lead.
"We talked about carrying over from L.A., the way we finished the game especially, and we certainly didn't do that," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "It is surprising and disappointing. At this time of the year we're all aware of the standings. We [have to] get back at it [Thursday]. We have a huge game again and we definitely have to bounce back and find some more urgency in our game."
They have to find it quickly, because the Panthers, who lost to the Rangers 4-2 here on Monday, are also looking to re-establish their game and have been waiting for the Bruins in Boston since Tuesday.
"The only thing that we can do right now to help ourselves out is to win games, make sure we're prepared, and realize how important every single game is," Marchand said. "If we do that, and we string a few wins together, then we're going to put ourselves in a good position. But if we go into games and we're not prepared and we're banking on other teams to lose then we're going to end up in a situation like we were in last year, and that's not where we want to be."