This is the Internet, and I know how the Internet works: lukewarm isn’t allowed. Milquetoast is death. The hottest takes get the most reaction. It makes sense, then, that just about every speed bump (which lasted about...a week) in this fairly smooth Bruins 2019-2020 campaign has been treated like a miles-deep crater that is going to swallow your car whole.
How, oh how, will this team recover from a week of bad games? Their first in six weeks!?
Case in point: Saturday’s loss to the Capitals, while frustrating, gave the Bruins 3 out of 4 points in back-to-back games against a division rival on the road and the #1 team in the NHL at home. Not horrible, right? Sure, it’s not perfect, but it certainly could be worse. Instead, based on the reaction after the game, you’d think the Bruins had just plummeted to last in the league standings, behind the currently-not-in-existence Seattle Team to Be Named Later.
A sampling of reaction from social media includes such scorching takes as:
- The Bruins need to look at another coach, as the shootout woes are simply unacceptable.
- The team is soft, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
- The team is also mentally and physically worn down.
- The entire team is a mess and coaching is to blame.
- Jacobs needs to sell the team to Robert Kraft.
The last one is my personal favorite, as if the guy who is cutting the checks is somehow responsible for the Bruins giving up 4 goals in the third period at home. Might also expose a little bit of what lens they actually see the sport through. Before you get all fired up, multiple things can be true: the Bruins CAN be going through a bit of a rough patch, but the reactions to it CAN be way over the top as well.
It’s not a stretch to say that the Bruins haven’t been playing their best hockey as of the last week and a half or so. However, the facts (as of Sunday) remain:
- The Bruins have earned 29 out of a possible 40 points.
- It’s past the midpoint of November, and the Bruins still haven’t lost in regulation at home.
- The Bruins are 1st in their division, tied for 2nd in their conference, and tied for 3rd in the league.
- The Bruins have the league’s 7th-best offense, 4th-best defense, and 3rd-best power play.
That’s a lot of good stuff.
Again, this isn’t meant to be a sunshine-and-rainbows digest. This team has problems that it needs to sort out over the course of this season, and they’ve had their share of ups and downs on the young campaign. However, it’s worth keeping things in perspective.
Many people suggested that a Stanley Cup hangover was coming, yet the team is going to be near the top of the NHL standings by American Thanksgiving. The team is among the most injured in the NHL as well, making their place in the standings no small feat. As collected by our good pal Chris, guys currently on the shelf for the Bruins include:
- Torey Krug
- Jake DeBrusk
- Brett Ritchie
- Kevan Miller
- John Moore
- Karson Kuhlman
- David Backes
You can also toss in Patrice Bergeron, who may miss time in the coming games, and Zach Senyshyn, who looked OK before being sidelined with a lower-body injury.
While the team has been lucky to avoid injuries to top-end guys like David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, and Tuukka Rask, sooner or later those depth injuries are going to cause problems. Many people are still suffering from Game 7 vs. The Blues Angst, which, for some reason, magnifies any and everything that happens to the team.
Blown third period lead? Fire the coach.
Lost in a shootout? Bench your leading goal-scorer.
The larger point of this rambling screed is that not every game is life and death. Not every loss means someone needs to be fired or benched. Not every turnover is a sign that someone should retire. The heat of hockey takes has continued to rise here on the World Wide Web, so no one is immune. Measured thoughts aren’t a ton of fun. I get it.
But it’s worth noting that the Bruins are, all things considered, in a pretty good spot. They’ve played a quarter of the season, and have only failed to take a point in 3 of them.
Blowing leads on failed clears is frustrating. Giving up 4 goals in the third period is frustrating. Pointing out flaws or suggesting improvements are great things to do; suggesting that everyone should be benched, fired, re-signed, then benched again is bananas. They play a miserable Devils team on Tuesday, then the November Sabres, then the even more miserable Wild, The Habs, and then finish the month with the Sens and the Rangers. They can absolutely turn this around.
The sky isn’t falling. It’s November.