WILMINGTON (CBS) — The Bruins have had just three losing streaks this season, and none of them exceeded two games.
It’s their veteran experience as individuals, and as teammates who have been together for several seasons, which allows them to know exactly how to handle a defeat and then take the ice for their next game with a clean slate and typically play their best hockey.
So although they’re coming off their worst loss of the season – 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday – there are reasons to be optimistic the Bruins won’t overlook the 18-32-6 Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden on Saturday.
“I think we need to just to turn the page. We’ve been playing very good hockey of late,” Bruins center Gregory Campbell said after practice at Ristuccia Arena on Friday. “Last night wasn’t our best game on all fronts and I don’t think there’s anybody in here that was satisfied with their individual games. I think on nights like that, it’s important to recognize where we went wrong or things we could’ve done better, and move on. I mean it’s going to happen. We’re not happy about it. But I think it’s important to be mentally strong and just move on.”
The Bruins practiced hard, but not violently so. They finished up their session with some battle drills, where they went at it in tight quarters and enjoyed some laughs as well as hits. There aren’t too many things the core of this Bruins squad hasn’t endured. Making a quick recovery after a disastrous defeat is second nature to this group. If a triple-overtime loss in the Stanley Cup Final didn’t stop them from pushing the series to six games, a January loss – even one to Montreal – shouldn’t send them into a tailspin.
“I mean you hope so. As a coach, I try to encourage those guys to turn the page,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “And you do the things like we did today. It wasn’t a punishment practice. It was working on the things [we needed to]. It was fun there and you try to create a situation where that energy will be back for tomorrow. Now I think the biggest thing is, if we can play well tomorrow then it’s a lot easier to turn the page. If you don’t, then you’re prolonging the pain. So to me, our guys have enough experience to know that, and we’re coming in tomorrow against a team that’s won three games in a row. And we have to respect that and understand that we’ve got to play much better than we did.”
The Oilers have been playing well of late, but maybe a Bruins team on a five-game winning streak would’ve overlooked them. And although Julien said that had the Bruins’ results this week been reversed – had they beaten Montreal but lost to Florida – Thursday night’s defeat wouldn’t have been as big a deal, he’s wrong. If the Bruins had gone through the motions and let the Panthers run them out of their own building, the Bruins still would’ve been feeling the heat.
Because the expectation is that a team with the talent and depth of the Bruins should be able to win every night. Of course, that’s unrealistic, but a loss where they don’t’ even exert enough energy to burn toast is going to show up on the radar of critics regardless of the opponent.
The Bruins have proven resilient in the face of a bad loss here or there, and to avoid what would be their worst losing streak of the season they’ll have to exercise that toughness again.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.