BOSTON (CBS) – The banner now hanging above the TD Garden ice surface to honor the 2011 Stanley Cup champions seems to be a perfect fit, as it’s the sixth one to go up for the Black and Gold and evens out the row between the American flag and the banner honoring Bruins division and conference champions.
It also, as owner Jeremy Jacobs publicly pointed out, has left room for more. And it’s that space that the Bruins now need to focus on.
With the raising of the banner and the passing of the Stanley Cup from player to player prior to the Bruins’ 2-1 loss to Philadelphia Thursday, the book is officially closed on 2011. While another Cup championship so soon after breaking the 39-year drought might be a pie-in-the-sky (not “Pie” McKenzie) fantasy, the Bruins now have to regroup and give winning that title their best shot.
As head coach Claude Julien so succinctly put it:
“As you know, if you go to a party and you stay until 4 or for two, three days, after a while, you get tired of it, right? The bottles of champagne are empty, so it’s time to go home. I think that’s how we feel right now. We’ve had a great time with it this summer, we’ve had some great experiences, but right now, we basically would like to re-do this, and we know there’s a lot of work and a lot of things that have to come into play before that happens. We need to turn the page.”
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The Bruins didn’t give it their best shot against the Flyers, who were motivated not just by their rivalry with the Bruins, but also by the fact that Boston went through them in four straight games in the second round last spring and by the opportunity to show off their new-look roster that features Ilya Bryzgalov and Jaromir Jagr as marquee attractions instead of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
The Flyers weren’t short on any motivational tools, but that extra jump isn’t going to be limited to teams that have a history with the Bruins. Every time Boston takes the ice, it’s going to have a target on its back, whether the opponent is hated Montreal or inconsequential Nashville or Columbus.
Playing a half a game, like the Bruins did Thursday, will not be enough for the Bruins to survive. They need to put the work in for 60 minutes, get their power play going and make smarter decisions 5-on-5.
Photo Gallery: Bruins Raise The Banner
To a man after the game, the Bruins acknowledged their early season predicament.
“You just saw today, now we’re back to reality,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “We’re the hunted ones now. We just have to find a way to win games and they will be extra tough this year with everyone wanting to win against the champion and we just have to be on our game. At the end it’s just going to make us that much stronger, I think.”
The Bruins can use the empty space next to their new banner as motivation. More importantly, they have to look at it and remember what it took to earn that banner’s place on a night-to-night basis now that it’s officially 2011-12.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operates TheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.