The Bruins were able to escape October with a record of 8-4. Take away a flukey last second goal against San Jose, or the lackluster shootout win over Anaheim and you have a team teetering just above .500. And if we're honestly evaluating Boston's play so far, a .500 record doesn't seem unfathomable.
The month of November didn't start off much better for the Bruins. They allowed multiple odd-man rushes, showed a familiar sense of frustration on offense, and were provided with Alex Auld quality goaltending from Chad Johnson in their 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders.
With both Johnny Boychuk and Loui Eriksson sidelined with injuries, Boston's depth is already being tested. That, in addition to the inconsistent efforts of players such as Brad Marchand, Reilly Smith, Jordan Caron, and the still point-less Gregory Campbell has resulted in a confused looking batch of players still trying to find their game.
Success isn't something that's guaranteed in the NHL. Results in one year have very little to do with how a club will fare in the next, and if you happen to be sensing a bit of complacency out of the Bruins, you're not alone. This looks like a team just waiting for the playoffs, as if the privilege to compete in the post-season is already theirs. They're confident, they're comfortable, and they're lacking a certain drive that has characterized successful Bruins teams in the recent memory.
It's too early to suggest any sort of "shake-up", but this group of players is far too talented to see points whittle away night after night. Now sitting at 8-5, fourth in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins return to TD Garden for a season-long five game home stand with a chance to right the ship.
First up on the 'Old Friends Reunion Tour', Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars. Dallas has been struggling, and this games represents a great opportunity for Boston to gain some momentum as so many great Dallas games have done in the past.
Then Tim Thomas and the 3-8-2 Florida Panthers come to town, followed by the division leading Toronto Maple Leafs returning to the Garden for the first time since something awesome happened. Tampa Bay and the still Nathan Horton-less Columbus Blue Jackets round out the home stand that could go a long way towards defining this Bruins club.
Anything resembling a Stanley Cup Finals hangover should be wearing off at this point, as the 2013-2014 season is now in full swing. It's time for Boston to drop the excuses and finally find their game, before the season starts to slip away.