By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — You can break it down any way you like.

You can get into the jumbled lines, the integration of new bodies, the ripple effect of losing three key players to injury this month. You could get into so on, and you could even get into so forth.

Or, you could just cut right to the point, like Patrice Bergeron did minutes after  the Bruins lost 1-0 to Ottawa on Tuesday night.

“We gotta get better,” Bergeron said.

Those four simple words get to the crux of the Bruins’ recent issues, which have the team on a 5-7-1 skid. They’re good enough to be better. They have the talent to better, they have the coaches to be better, and more than anything else, they have no reason not to be better.

It was a common refrain in the Bruins’ locker room Tuesday night.

“Well, yeah, [the defense has] gotten better,” said goaltender Tim Thomas, who had 37 saves as the Bruins’ lone star of the night. “But I think that can get better, too. I mean, we’ve had a lot of odd man rushes in the last — well it’s kind of a two-month period, right? — and it’s kind of all together. And, you know, there’s room for improvement but we’ve been making steps forward.”

The Bruins’ biggest issue against the Senators was simply generating chances. Obviously, that’s still a difficult task without Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton, and it’s difficult to work new players Brian Rolston and Mike Mottau into the lineup on the fly. But there’s no excuse for so often looking uncoordinated and uninspired on the ice. That type of play leads to getting outshot 31-15 through two periods. And it leads to losses.

“I think in the end we lost the game,” said Tyler Seguin. “I don’t know if [we’re] sluggish or what reason it is I think it’s just something we need to learn from and bounce back for next game.”

Where the Bruins needed to be a lot better on Tuesday was also in the discipline department. The interference call on Seguin that led to the Senators’ only goal was an iffy one, for sure, but with each game that goes by, it becomes more and more clear that you can’t put the referee in a position to make a call. Give a referee an excuse to make a call, and he probably will. That’s especially damaging when you’re facing a potent power play like Otttawa’s, which is eighth in the league at 19.5 percent.

“We could have created more chances,” Bergeron said. “I think we had some nice chances that we’ve got to find a way to finish.”

The Bruins have 21 games remaining in the regular season. They have a one-point lead over the Senators in the Northeast Division with four games in hand, and they have a five-point lead over the Southeast Division-leading Panthers, also with a game in hand. They’re in position to guarantee themselves home-ice advantage for two rounds of the playoffs, so long as they don’t blow it.

It’s time now to get better.


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