BOSTON -- While Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli readily admitted Tuesday that he is not satisfied with his team's 3-5-0 start, he isn’t pushing the panic button just yet. Slow starts have been commonplace for defending Stanley Cup champions in recent seasons -- with some teams overcoming their slow starts, some not -- but from talking to those who have experienced them, Chiarelli realizes he needs to stay the course for now and further evaluate his team before making any big changes.
"I've talked to GMs and coaches and players that have been through this," Chiarelli said. "They have different stories, but they all say there's something that happens that you can't avoid. Malaise is too strong of a word, but it's just a bit of a cloud right now. I know one team said it took them 20 games before they were back to normal.
"There's no easy answer, and I'm not using it as a crutch. It's something that we expected, and talking to the guys to start the year, we've just got to deal with it. I'm obviously not happy with where we are in the standings, but this is new to us. I don't want to overreact, and unfortunately we have to do it game-by-game."
One of the Bruins’ biggest problems thus far has been failing to capitalize on scoring chances. They’re outshooting teams by a large margin but they can’t seem to bury their chances, something coach Claude Julien tried to address during practice Monday. Chiarelli credited Julien and his staff for their efforts to remedy the situation.
“It’s something that we have to work through,” the GM said. “There’s no easy answer to it. We’ve done a few things to try and spark the guys and the other day our coaching staff worked a lot on the offensive chances and scoring and finishing. The guys actually looked like they were having fun that practice and those are some things that you've got to do. Our coaching staff is a creative staff and I know Claude is meeting this head on.”
Chiarelli was asked if the combination of coming into the season as defending Stanley Cup champions and the current state of contracts his team is locked into may have created a sense of complacency among the players. He agreed with that notion to a point and also acknowledged that while he naturally was hesitant to tinker with a roster that had just won the organization’s first Stanley Cup in 39 years. But if things don’t change, he will have no choice but to explore ways to improve his team.
"I think the competition for jobs as it applies to us this year right now is probably ice time," Chiarelli said. "We have one extra forward and one extra D right now. It's a Stanley Cup-winning team, and it's hard to create competition. I believe in competition, but it's hard to create it.
"It's hard to meddle and tinker with a Stanley Cup team. I have to get over that. We do have roster space. We do have cap space to create competition. We've got some guys pushing in Providence. I'm just not at that point yet. It's my job to monitor this stuff and address it. We'll see how it goes on a day-to-day basis.
"Obviously it's the results that you look at, but I look at other things internally and in practice and behind the scenes. It's a broader picture, but at some point if I don't like how things are going I have to do something."