BOSTON -- When asked Tuesday morning what stood out most from the two games his team lost to the Detroit Red Wings this past weekend by a combined score of 10-3, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien pointed to Boston's making key mistakes against a team that makes its opponents pay dearly for errors.
"We had some chances, but the mistakes we made were costly mistakes, and that's what stands out to us," Julien said.
Despite playing a team much lower in the standings, the Toronto Maple Leafs, on Tuesday night, Julien was repeating himself after a disappointing 4-3 loss before another sellout crowd at TD Garden. The Bruins blew three one-goal leads and watched Mikhail Grabovski score his second goal of the game with just 1:01 left in regulation to complete the comeback and stun the Bruins.
But Julien wasn't just pointing at mistakes after this loss. He also called on his team to play with more emotion and purpose, something he didn't see nearly enough of Tuesday night.
The Bruins have lost three straight games in regulation, a first this season, and their coach wasn't shy in letting it be known what he thinks of his team's effort.
"Unacceptable," Julien said to begin his postgame session with the media. "I think it's one of those situations where, if you have any sense of pride, you're embarrassed about tonight, not because the other team played well but because we did not play to the level that we should be playing.
"Right now, that's been creeping in, and the types of goals we're giving up, it's just it's unacceptable. It's pretty simple. It's unacceptable, and that sense of urgency doesn't seem to be there.
"At the same time, after that Montreal game, we really did look like a team, and tonight we didn't. Starting from the game right after Montreal, the two Detroit games and then tonight. Mistakes we're making are just unacceptable. It's guys not thinking, not being ready. I don't know if there's distractions up in the air that brings that around the team, but to me, tonight's game was a very big disappointment."
The distractions Julien referred to could be the numerous trade rumors surrounding his team, which heated up Tuesday as the Bruins and Leafs apparently were in talks. After the game, the Bruins announced that they had acquired Senators forward Chris Kelly for a second-round pick in the 2011 draft.
General manager Peter Chiarelli agreed with Julien's assessment of the team's struggles and believes Kelly can help bring some much-needed passion and grit as the team embarks on a six-game road trip.
"He brings a real responsible game, and I say that first because it doesn't mean he's defense first, because he's good on the forecheck, he's got an element of energy to his game and hockey sense, and combines both those things well in his game," Chiarelli said. "There's an element of accountability. He's been to the Stanley Cup final and playoff games. He's played a lot of years in the league, and he's had success. The fact that he has that veteran presence, too, that's going to help out the team, and I'm not suggesting that I did this deal tonight -- it's been in the works for a while -- but the timing is good, too."
As Julien pointed out before the trade was announced, this team needs to start digging deep from within and doing so as a unit. He couldn't be more correct. The Bruins need to want to win and need to play harder. The coach thinks it is time to look in the mirror and reflect on what's going on before his team finds itself in a downward spiral.
"I think it's important to take a step back and look at what we need to rectify," Julien said. "Obviously, we have quite a few games coming up and haven't had the opportunity to practice as well as we have. But right now, it's time to get back to work and rectify that part of our game.
"I thought in Detroit we got a little bit better with our backcheck, and our back pressure, that was a lot better. But tonight, that kind of slipped a little bit. Again, we had some [defensemen] get beat one-on-one. Those are things that are not really related to necessarily backchecking, but it's related to individuals.
"We had some great opportunities to score tonight, and we didn't bear down on them and we didn't score. What's happening to us is what we deserve. If we can't play better than that, we shouldn't expect more than that. I think we have to take that responsibility. We have to stop making excuses and take charge of the situation starting [Wednesday]."
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.