By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — For those who follow the skidding Bruins, the same familiar nervous feelings are beginning to bubble back to the surface.READ MORE: Melrose Seeks To 'Deemphasize' Halloween In Classrooms, Hold 'Inclusive' Fall Events
After an 8-2 start to the Bruce Cassidy era, the Bruins have stagnated in recent weeks under their interim head coach. They are 4-4 in their last eight and have now lost three in a row, the latest a frustrating 3-2 defeat at the hands of the division rival Ottawa Senators.
The Bruins are now barely clinging to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders are just one and four points behind the Bruins, respectively, each with two games in hand. The Tampa Bay Lightning sit five points back with one game in hand. The Bruins play the Lightning and Islanders in their next two games; needless to say, they need to turn things around in a hurry.
It’s natural for followers of the team to begin hearkening back to the last two seasons under Claude Julien, when the Bruins collapsed down the stretch and lost their grip on a playoff spot in the closing weeks of the regular season. Defenseman Torey Krug insists that this season will be different.
“I haven’t thought about [the last two seasons], I haven’t talked about it. It’s a different feeling this year. It’s not going to happen,” Krug told reporters after the loss on Tuesday. “I know we have a lot of pride in this room and the guys who have been through it … there’s no other option except making sure we stay on course and take care and do our jobs.”
Patrice Bergeron echoed Krug’s sentiments, refusing to worry about what’s in the past and only looking toward the final nine games of this season.READ MORE: Young Crowd Eager To Attend Harry Styles Concert In Boston, But Are There COVID Concerns?
“You have to obviously look forward,” said Bergeron. “Definitely don’t dwell on the past and don’t look at the past two years. It’s not even something that we should even think about at this point. It’s about us … being better and finding ways to win games.”
The biggest difference between last year’s Bruins and this year’s team is Cassidy, who feels that the Bruins have not necessarily played poorly in their last two games – despite picking up zero points in the standings.
The interim head coach aims to stay the course as much as anyone, avoiding the same kind of panic that may be gearing up among media and fans. He’s also determined to differentiate this year’s Bruins from the last two teams, even though they are treading dangerously close to that territory.
“Every year writes its own story. There’s a lot of guys in that room who weren’t here last year, including myself, so we’d like to write our own story,” said Cassidy after the game. “Clearly, the last two games were important games for us and I thought we played very well. We had some breakdowns.
“I don’t think I’m going to wake up tomorrow and see us eliminated. So we’re going to go back to work on Thursday against Tampa Bay. We’re going to keep playing well and keep playing hard.”
The last three games have felt too much like the Bruins’ collapse of the past two seasons. With Cassidy steering the ship now, the team’s story better start writing something fresh in the coming days. Because we’ve read this one before.MORE NEWS: Concord-Carlisle High School Teacher Accused Of Using Racist Slur Put On Leave
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.