After an admittedly less than ideal start to the summer, I’ve seen far too many fans already pushing the panic button on the Bruins. By reading a lot of the tweets, you’d think the Bruins were on the verge of being swept in the Stanley Cup Final. Breathe, people. There’s absolutely no reason to give up on this team yet.
For Starters, the First Loss Was an Exhibition Game
As the subheading says, their first loss back was an exhibition game. It meant absolutely nothing. This is especially true given it was against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who needed to get back up to speed fast. They’re currently playing in a do-or-die series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, the Bruins are playing in a fairly meaningless round-robin tournament (more on that later).
So, of course, Columbus was going to play harder. At the time, the Bruins had three more games before they had to play in a real playoff series. Columbus didn’t have any. So, there was no reason for the Bruins to go really hard and play intense hockey, and clearly, they didn’t. I don’t blame them. There’s no sense in going all out in a game that means absolutely nothing, especially since the Bruins have a lot of aging veterans who need to save as much energy as possible for the real playoffs.
They Played Much Better in the Second Half of Wednesday’s Game
The Bruins played much the same way they did against Columbus when they played the Flyers in the first round-robin game. They started off well, but then they couldn’t solve Hart, and so they got frustrated and didn’t play well because of it. It was an ugly game.
The first half of Wednesday’s game against Tampa Bay looked very similar, unfortunately. But, they picked it up significantly once Krug fought towards the end of the first period, and even more so during the second half of the game. That’s promising to me. They looked much more like the Bruins we know and love. They were much more physical, harder on pucks, sharper, and didn’t pass up as many shots. Were they 100%? Definitely not. But they were much better, and I think there’s a good chance that momentum carries over into Sunday’s game against the Capitals.
The Round Robin is Fairly Meaningless
Another reason I’m not too worried about the Bruins right now is that the round-robin tournament is fairly meaningless. It’s been so long since the regular-season ended that seeding really doesn’t matter. The Bruins know this, and so I truly believe they have not been going all out because of it. There’s no sense in killing yourself for the number one seed this year. It doesn’t guarantee you’re seeing the worst team currently (even though the Canadiens are outside of Price, but that was just determined today). There’s no home-ice advantage either because there are no fans.
The only advantage of having the first seed is teams will get the last change throughout the playoffs. That’s helpful, but it’s not helpful enough that you should go all out and risk injuries to get it. So, I get why the Bruins are playing more reserved. They have a lot of key older guys, and they’ll be much better off having them more rested for the playoffs than they would’ve been with the number one seed.
That Being Said, They Need to Play Better
Now, that being said, the Bruins need to play better. Yes, it’s true, there’s no point in going all out right now. But, you still want to be playing good hockey. Otherwise, it’s going to be like trying to catch a moving train when it comes time to play a team that was just in a do-or-die series. The Bruins played much better in the latter half of Wednesday’s game, so I have hope they’ll be fine. But, they could still stand to be better. However, if they play as they did then from puck drop on Sunday, and build on it, they’ll be in great shape heading into the playoffs.
If they don’t, they could still be fine, but it will be much harder, especially if they have to play Carolina. Ideally, they’ll get the win on Sunday. If they do, not only will they be playing well heading into the playoffs, but they’ll get to play the Islanders in the first round instead of the Hurricanes (who should be avoided at all costs). So, here’s hoping that it happens! I don’t know about you guys, but I have faith that it will.
In short, there’s no reason to panic just yet, Bruins fans. Yeah, they haven’t looked great so far. But, they haven’t had to and they’re looking better, so that’s what matters the most. So, take a deep breath everyone. These Bruins are certainly not done yet.
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)