It’s safe to say that the Bruins have been slumping over the last week. They’ve lost four of their last five games and have fallen to eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
And while some of the Bruins fans and media are quick to point the finger at head coach Claude Julien for their recent struggles, the team has taken the right approach and has supported their leader behind the bench.
Yes, Julien has some responsibility in this of course, particularly when it comes to the team starting slow in the first 20 minutes. They have given up the first goal in three of the five losses and have had to play from behind often.
However, even in their victory over the Washington Capitals, the complete 60-minute effort wasn’t there. They got off to a 3-0 lead after the first 20 minutes, but Tim Thomas had to bail them out in the third period as the Caps outshot the Bruins 26-2 in the final stanza.
That third period against Washington showed a lot of flaws that we’ve seen in this slump. The defenseman were out of position and were caught scrambling, the outlet passes weren’t crisp and all of this obviously resulted in the Bruins having trouble clearing their own zone. As a result, the Bruins spent very little time in the Caps zone and Thomas had to save the victory.
But even with the struggles on the blue line, the Bruins offense hasn’t done much to help the cause either. Despite outshooting the Ducks Monday night, 45-25, they didn’t provide too much of a challenge for goalie Jonas Hiller. Yes, they had some good opportunities to get one past Hiller, but the Bruins didn’t have many bodies in front of the net to distract Hiller and they were a step slower than the Ducks when Hiller gave up the rare rebound off the first shot.
After their loss on Monday, the Bruins were quick to point out that everyone in the organization should be held responsible and not just Julien.
As evident over the years, when a team struggles the fans usually jump on the bandwagon and blame the coach for the recent struggles. And while there are a few fans that have voiced their displeasure on Julien’s coaching during the team’s recent struggles, the players and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli have given their support for Julien and have stated that the team will find a way to break out of this.
Chiarelli gave his stamp of approval yesterday when he was a guest on “Toucher and Rich” on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
“We’re going to have to figure out why we’ve been flat, we’re going to figure out why we have slow starts,” said Chiarelli. “We have a good staff and it’s incumbent for our staff to figure it out.”
However, even though he held both the players and the coaches responsible, Bruins President Cam Neely noted that Julien’s job wasn’t safe on “Felger and Mazz” Tuesday afternoon. Although he had nothing too negative to say about Julien’s coaching, he didn’t have any positive to say either.
But even though Chiarelli and Neely might disagree on Julien’s job status, Chiarelli still agreed with Neely about everyone having some responsibility in this slump.
“Consistent with what Cam said, we’re all accountable here,” Chiarelli said on “Toucher and Rich”. “But I’m confident that our staff is going to figure it out and confident that we’re going to play better.”
At practice yesterday, Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton told the media that he understands about the often-used mentality of blaming the coach for the team’s struggles. But that theory is something that Thornton doesn’t agree with either.
“When things go a little downhill in any market I think people look for an excuse and will jump on any little thing,” Thornton said to the media after yesterday’s practice. “I don’t think it’s warranted and ultimately it comes down to individuals and us players to show up every night and play. It has nothing to do with the other stuff.”
Tonight the Bruins have a chance to snap out of their slump at TD Garden – before they head on a five-game road trip – when they take on the Atlanta Thrashers. It might not necessarily be a must win situation in just the 33rd game of the season, but a win would certainly ease the pressure a bit on Julien and the rest of the Bruins.
Otherwise, there might be a few more callers on 98.5 – or WEEI – that will jump on the fire Julien bandwagon.