BOSTON (CBS) – Just when you thought the Bruins’ first two-game winning streak in two months would set them on a clear sail to the playoffs, along comes the club’s first three-game losing streak since October.

Worse, after they dropped a 6-1 decision in Tampa Tuesday night, the Bruins have been outscored, 15-6, in those three games. How’s that for the team that boasts the best goaltending tandem in the league and a stifling defense corps in front of those netminders?

Of course, the Tuukka Rask injury has gummed up the works, in addition to various other players coming and going from the lineup due to ailments. But if there’s no crying in baseball, there’s definitely no room for excuses in hockey – especially when your management brags about great organizational depth almost non-stop.

If the Bruins, who are 3-5-0 in March, are going to get out of their current malaise, the first thing they’re going to have to do is make sure they don’t begin to lean on those injuries as a crutch to make them feel better about their struggles. Past Claude Julien-coached teams have done a great job of turning the adversity that comes with injuries into success. That’s why players like Glen Metropolit, Miro Satan and Rich Peverley – players of whom little was expected but much was produced for Bruins – left fond memories or, in Peverley’s case, earned a big-money contract extension.

Read: More From Matt Kalman

This current batch of Bruins tends to say most of the right things about working through the injuries and stepping up. But other than Jordan Caron, who’s doing the stepping? The Bruins’ best players seem to be skating in quick sand, and no role player has done anything to differentiate himself from the guys playing house league in New Bedford.

Remember when Chris Kelly was a revelation? His versatility and leadership are still vital to the Bruins, but he’s registered one point in his last 11 games. Brian Rolston is proving the Islanders were right to sit him out as much as they did. Even Shawn Thornton, typically blame-less whenever the Bruins are in a rut, lost his cool and took a dumb penalty against Tampa Bay during the Lightning’s early-game eruption Tuesday.

And then there’s Tim Thomas. With the exception of his “injured” season of 2009-10, the Bruins have been able to count on him to clean up their mistakes nine times out of 10. That number has been reduced to almost zero. Thomas’ workload has increase and will obviously continue to pile on now that the Bruins are in a fight for the Northeast Division and even a playoff spot. He says he’s in better shape now than even three or four years ago. Well then, why isn’t he playing like it?

When they were just playing .500 hockey, you could excuse the Bruins for just being in cruise control until the playoffs. Now they’re playing sub-.500 hockey and the playoffs have for all intents and purposes started.

Regardless of who’s in uniform for the Bruins starting Thursday, it’s time to start showing off that depth and determination that’s supposedly in high supply. Here are a couple of things we have to see from the Bruins when they try to snap their losing streak against the Panthers:

*Some clean but hard-hitting. Right from the drop of the puck, the Bruins have to be physical. They’ve been manhandled the last several games. That means Milan Lucic, Johnny Boychuk, and anyone with an ounce of toughness has to put the body to someone in a Florida sweater. I mean, that’s been the Bruins’ calling card for 80-something years. No reason to change now.

*Tyler Seguin has to go back on Patrice Bergeron’s line and someone else – maybe Brad Marchand – has to go on David Krejci’s right wing. I was enthusiastically in favor of Seguin’s shift to the first line, and it sparked the Bruins’ offense off the bat, but that line is way too weak defensively now. Lucic, Krejci and Seguin are a combined minus-10 in the last seven games. It’s time to rebalance the lines.

*Get Mike Mottau in for Greg Zanon. No, I’m not presenting Mottau as some sort of savior. But at least he’s shown a knack for limiting mistakes and making plays. Zanon looks like a headless chicken out there. If he needs more time to adjust to the new system, let him do it during practice time rather than costly game time.

*Clone Caron. This one’s probably the most difficult of Boston’s tasks, but this guy keeps getting better and better. Even in the blowout loss to Tampa, he threw a big hit on the forecheck and then went to the net for a tip-in for Boston’s lone goal. Right now, he and Bergeron look like the only ones in the Bruins’ lineup that are alive. They might not be able to scientifically accomplish this, so the other Bruins players are just going to have to try to duplicate Caron’s heart with an increase in their own aggression.

Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for He and also contributes coverage to and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.

Comments (4)
  1. BostonsGreatCollapse says:

    I’m pretty sure Kriecji has been on fire too. You’re right with the lack of defense on that line. But since Seiguin’s arrival. Offensively that line has been a machine. the TB game was the 1st game 8 games that none of them have registered a Point. The Bergeron Line has been the dissappointment since that move. Marchand has been quiet and seems lost without seiguin on the other side. Rolston is too slow. Move Caron to the Bergeron Line and Keep the Kreicji line intact. IMO

  2. BostonsGreatCollapse says:

    I Disagree. The TB game is the first time in 8 games that someone on the Krejci line has not registered a point. Kriejci has been on a tear since Seguin joined the line up. Aside from the defensive side of the puck with that line, you have a point. Then again, Chara’s 58 turnovers aren’t helping either. Perhaps the defense needs to step up. The Bergeron Line has been null since moving Seguin. Rolston is too slow. Move Caron up to the Bergeron Line and keep the Krejci line intact and get Chara to start playing for our team. I think we’ll be fine.

  3. BostonsGreatCollapse says:

    sorry for the double post. My PC is dumb and didn’t show the 1st one, so I didn’t think it went though.

  4. DAN says:

    Seguin has been the best player ont he ice all year. Everytime he has been moved, that line has stepped up and led the team. Line 1 when Krejchi was hurt, stud, line 2 with berg and marchand, stud.. and now with lucic and krecjci, stud. but he gets moved? You drop seguin, for frigin Caron! Seguin is all over ice on defense. all over the puck on offense, but this hack writer wants to lump him in with the rest of the bums, and wants to “clone” someone that hasnt proven ANYTHING. THIS TOWN IS A JOKE

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