By: Lauren Spencer | Follow Me On Twitter: @laurenspenc
The end of November was difficult for the Boston Bruins, with the team dropping three straight games and being outscored 17-8 by the Red Wings, Rangers, and Blue Jackets. Two of these losses were to teams that will be in the playoff picture next spring, but Columbus is a rebuilding team that should not be able to dominate the Bruins as they did. Their performances against Detroit, New York, and Columbus were abysmal and as a result, some Bruins fans have been quick to worry how this might impact the rest of the season. However, after their victory against San Jose, Bruins fans can take their hands off the panic button and see that this is still a top team.
The Bruins appeared to have life in their Saturday afternoon game against the Rangers. They tied the game after falling in an early 2-0 hole, but the victory quickly became out of reach before ending in a 7-4 defeat. This was the loss that relinquished the top spot in the league standings, but at 15-4-3 the Bruins still sit atop the Atlantic division. This might benefit those among us who are superstitious, as it currently puts the Bruins out of reach of the supposed President’s Trophy curse.
During the offseason, there were limited expectations for this Bruins team. With the major departures the team faced, the Bruins were predicted to be a Wild Card team come playoff time. When they came out 9-0-1 through their first ten games, the expectations and reactions changed. After the historic events of last season and this hot start, Bruins fans still need to remember that most teams go through a dip in performance. Over the previous 100-plus games under Jim Montgomery, this team has shown us that this rough patch is genuinely just a patch. Montgomery said as much himself, as he addressed the media before Thursday’s game.
Dropping three games in a row also gave the Bruins something they’ve been missing: adversity. Last season did not bring the challenges that the Bruins would need to learn how to overcome, which everyone saw when their season ended after Round One. As Charlie McAvoy said to the media, this adversity allows the team to learn more about themselves. These are the moments that the Bruins will have to learn to dig deep, which will only help them in the long run.
It would be wrong to say the Bruins played well in those three losses. They looked sloppy, tired, and easy to push around. This was made worse by goaltending looking the weakest it’s been all season. However, a step back was inevitable after the unbelievable start to the season the tandem had. Even with their struggles as of late, Ullmark and Swayman are 7-3-1 and 8-1-2, respectively. These two players have shown their success, and Bruins fans have no reason to believe that this dip in performance is anything but a bump in the road. Swayman followed up these three games with a shutout, returning to his usual level of play.
Beyond the goalies, some of the Bruins’ more consistent players could have performed better after Thanksgiving. Pavel Zacha and David Pastrnak, two of the Bruins’ top forwards, were both toward the bottom of the game impact scorecard against the Blue Jackets.
Both players had a great bounce-back game against the Sharks, with both registering two points each. Jake DeBrusk also stepped up, scoring a goal that will help him regain some confidence after a slow offensive start this season. While San Jose is at the bottom of league standings, being back in the win column should help ease some of the overreactions following the last week.