Last time I saw the Bruins, they had just been trounced by the bullies from San Jose. They were fatigued, they were fighting the puck. Too many games in too few days, all against quality opponents. The effects were beginning to show.
The wheels fell off in the third period of the February 10th tilt against the Western Conference leading Sharks. I asked All-Star center Marc Savard if the team got worn down by their counterparts from California.
“We only played 40 minutes tonight,” he said.
Big Joe Thornton had other ideas.
“We just kind of turned it on,” Thornton said. “When we turn it on teams really can’t handle us. Our speed, our size, everything. I don’t think you can handle the Sharks for 60 minutes.”
He was saying that as a matter of explaining the four goals the Bruins had allowed to Thornton and the Sharks that period and he did not really answer the question. As I looked down on him and across the locker room I said to myself, “man, these guys are tired.”
Savard was trying to take accountability for the Bruins only playing 40 minutes that night. Yet, after the intense seven games in less than 12 days stretch they had been through, I am not sure they could have finished that game strong, no matter how much effort they put into it. If there is a team that can handle the Sharks for 60 minutes, it is the Bruins. Just not at the end of that brutal stretch. I mean, it is hard to skate when your legs feel like jelly.
The Bruins embarked on a five game road trip that has led them progressively south, from New Jersey to Nashville, Carolina and into Florida for tonight’s game against the Panthers then tomorrow in Tampa Bay. Their last game was Tuesday against Carolina, giving them three whole days to relax and take in the Florida sun. From the buzz I have been hearing, they got all of Wednesday for fishing, golf and well-deserved melancholy on the beach.
Seems like as good a cure for malaise and fatigue as I can think of.
The Bruins are looking for their third win of the season against the Panthers and I expect to see some bounce in their skates.
So, here I sit in Boston, waiting for our team to get home, waiting to see if Blake Wheeler got a tan, waiting patiently for the Bruins to turn the fire from earlier in the season back on and grind through the stretch run to the playoffs.
Game does not start until 7:00 p.m. Have to wait a little more. . .
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