The Bruins 8-0 win over the Maple Leafs proved this team isn't done yet
The Boston Bruins have been many things this season, but in the past few months, the best word that can describe them is “frustrating”. In November and December, they were unbeatable. They were blowing out other teams, giving up less than three goals a game and were maintaining their health. They looked like a team that, if not the first back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion since the Detroit Red Wings in the late 90′s, could have at least made a return trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Then, Nathan Horton got hurt, Tim Thomas didn’t go to the White House, Rich Peverley got hurt, the Rangers got hot, and the Boston Bruins are now simply fighting for their playoff positioning with about two weeks to go in the regular season. What was once an incredibly promising season has suddenly turned around. Instead of carrying the championship belt into every single game like they were in November, they are taking random nights off and putting together just enough to win the Northeast Division. Blame it on injuries, blame it on the fatigue generated from a deep playoff run and the long regular season, but the Boston Bruins are not the same team we saw back in the early months. It wouldn’t surprise me if their play makes them a popular first round upset pick against whoever they play.
Fortunately, for Boston fans. This sounds like another recent Boston team, a team that was fatigued and a team that couldn’t simply find themselves against the better teams in the league.
They certainly get up and win the games they should win, but anytime they get into a dogfight or are in a game where they face a team on or above their level, they fold.
This team gets outworked by everyone which is a shame compared to the championship team or even last year’s team who didn’t lay down for anyone and everyone. The (team name) get down in games, and they don’t come back or they get up early and they just blow it. I knew Friday night was too good to be true.
You know who I was writing about back two years ago? It was the 2010 Boston Celtics.
The similarities are almost uncanny. Throughout the 2010 season, I was complaining that the Boston Celtics hadn’t put their full effort on the hardwood since earlier in the season. Here’s after a win against the Pacers on 03/13/2010
National television against the Cleveland Lebrons on Sunday. While this game was a step in the right direction, more is required from this team Sunday. They still haven’t played a 48 minute game since the beginning of February (@LA Lakers) and they still have ground to gain in the Eastern Conference. A convincing win Sunday could be what the Celtics need to jump start the down the stretch run.
This year’s Boston Bruins do a similar thing. Take two weeks ago for example. The Bruins started the week with a big win over the streaking Buffalo Sabers where the Celtics looked like they could finally start to turn the corner and right the ship this season. They followed it up by losing to the Washington Capitals on Saturday by one and Pittsburgh by three on Sunday, both teams that will likely make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Just like those Celtics, these Bruins (as of late) seem to lack the ability to come back in games and get excited to play big teams, especially in National Telecast situations.
Like the Bruins, the Celtics struggles forced the fans to not worry about catching who was in front of them – the Cavaliers and the Magic for the Celtics – and instead worry about not losing ground to the teams chasing them. From 3/23/10:
This is the point that we have reached with the Celtics this regular season. No longer worried catching Cleveland or Orlando, the Celtics are just worried about not losing out to Atlanta for the third spot in the playoff picture and avoid playing Milwaukee in the first round.
These Bruins are suddenly less concerned about the New York Rangers and instead more concerned about dropping to seventh place in the East in the less and less unlikely event that the Ottawa Senators catch them in the Northeast Division. Those Celtics eventually lost their three seed to the Atlanta Hawks and were put in a situation where they had to play Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat in the first round and had to go through the “unstoppable” Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round.
Finally, nearing the end of the season, those Celtics were not nearly at their best, dropping games to contenders and also-rans a like. After a loss to the Knicks, I wrote the following.
The Knicks are not a playoff team and the Celtics are and that is not the kind of effort we expect from this team each and every night. More games like that and the Celtics are not only going to be playing out of the four seed, but they will also go no where fast in the playoffs.
It’s got to be the thoughts of Bruins fans right now, right? The effort night in and night out is not there and some nights they look like a team that is going down to early in April or May.
So why do I share all this? Because both teams had little sparks that maybe, just maybe they could have enough to get back to the Finals of their sports. When breaking down the NBA playoffs, I wrote this:
Call me a homer, but the Celtics have a chance in this series. Look at it this way. In the few games the Celtics have gotten up for this year (The Cleveland games, Christmas Day, the second Lakers game) they have looked AT LEAST like the team that took the Magic to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Semi’s last year. There is no reason the Celtics would not get up for this series.
The Bruins are so similar. We see glimmers of hope in this team like the Toronto game the other night where they showed up from the opening whistle and dominated their opponent. That’s the Bruins team we know and love, not the one that lost four straight games earlier this month.
When those Celtics reached the playoffs, the Boston Celtics team that fought through every hardship finally showed up. The switch was flipped and the Celtics made a run all the way to the Finals. That’s why I am telling this story. Not to remind everyone that the Bruins aren’t playing well as of late because Bruins fans know that.
Simply, it’s to remind people that the switch can be flipped at any time, as long as it has been shown in spurts throughout the season. The regular season is a marathon and not a sprint. After last spring, the Bruins understand that perfectly.
Hey, someone wrote this about the Bruins last spring:
That’s where the Boston Bruins major issue is. Yes, they do have the ability to get hot at the right time and take that streak all the way to the Stanley Cup. That can also work against them though. They are a very inconsistent team. Take a look at last year’s Bruins team. They got hot enough to make it to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, but they were also prone to getting cold and blowing a 3-0 lead in that same series. The same issue exists with this Bruins team. They get hot and win seven games in a row and then they turn around and look terrible and lose games to the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders. They are not nearly consistent enough to win the cup.
The writer? Me. Maybe it was just me getting nervous about the Bruins like I always did, maybe it was me forgetting about those Celtics of only a season before, but that’s how I felt at the time because the Bruins never proved they could flip the switch and leave it on like those Celtics had always proven.
This year? I know they can and most importantly, the Bruins know they can.