Give Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien credit. He’s not just sitting back waiting for things to finally click with his struggling club, he’s being proactive about facilitating a turnaround, tweaking lines, making on-ice adjustments, showing his team its mistakes and trying to instill a consistent focus on the ice.
Not that it’s done the Bruins any good so far.
“When you don’t win you look to make adjustments,” Julien said Sunday. “But at the same time the more adjustments doesn’t solve the issue. It’s unfortunate but it’s about every individual bringing more than what they are good at and that’s more about focus than line changes and everything else.”
After being swept by the Canadiens in a home-and-home series, the Bruins sit in the Eastern Conference cellar at 3-7. Stanley Cup hangover? If it is, it’s the worst the NHL has seen in more than 20 years. Boston has the worst October record by a defending champion since the 1990-91 Edmonton Oilers went 2-7-2 to start the season.
The last time the Bruins had six points or fewer through 10 games was the 1999-2000 season, when they were 1-5-4. That Bruins team won just 24 games and finished in fifth place.
This team, obviously, has a championship pedigree. Seems like it’s only a matter of time before the Bruins figure things out and get back on course ... right?
“We’ve only won three games and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past it’s a natural thing to start hesitating and second guessing,” Julien said. “The challenge is to figure the confidence and right now when things are extremely hard you really have to rely on your structure and doing things properly. You need to get your structure back and keep it simple and work from there.
“We’re trying to be too fancy and if we start cheating it’s only going to get worse, so we have to get back to the things that made us successful.”
Along with building confidence, Julien must guard against this Bruins team allowing its frustrations to snowball. Too often, frustrating losses lead to more frustrating losses. Something must break the cycle.
“As a coach you have to have control of your emotion,” Julien said. "To say it’s not a frustration would be a lie but you have to overcome those things and as a head coach you have to help these guys find their way.”
Defenseman Andrew Ference agreed with Julien’s assessment that the Bruins were a team in a fog, searching for a way to rediscover that Stanley Cup magic.
“I think everybody is determined to get back to playing up to the standard we’ve set for ourselves,” Ference said. "It’s just a matter of knowing where that bar is and how to get back to it. Lots of cleaning up to do.”
Julien and the Bruins have spent more time recently working with video and identifying problems and less time practicing on the ice. That was the case again Sunday, when the Bruins were treated to a film session featuring lowlights from their latest loss to Montreal.
“A lot of time players don’t think they as bad until they see it and when they see it, it opens their eyes,” Julien said of Sunday’s video session. “We’ve attacked different areas at times and showed them. Today was the whole package and kept our whole day on video than more on practice. They need to realize it before than can do it and hopefully they realize what needs to be done and work on that in practice and be ready for Tuesday.”
The Bruins host the red-hot Ottawa Senators (winners of six straight) on Tuesday to kick off a stretch in which they play six of seven at home.
“We’ve got to fix it. We’ve got to be better,” Patrice Bergeron said Sunday. "We’ve put ourselves in this situation and we have to come out of it. We’ve got to find some urgency, some desperation to do it."