What a difference a year makes…


Thursday’s loss to Montreal stood as a microcosm of the Bruins downfall;  It served as a symbol of the heartbreak that Bruins fans have endeared throughout January and into February.  The season officially is covered in grease, slowly slipping through the Bruins’ grips.

Last season, the Bruins silenced many of their critics when they swept the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.  They righted a lot of past wrongs and finished the season with a 9-0-1 record in head-to-head matchups with the Habs.  Finally, there was a sense that the Bruins could actually compete in the playoffs and do some damage.  Even the most pessimistic Bruins fan couldn’t help but be excited entering the series with Carolina.  They seemed to have all of the ingredients of a Stanley Cup team, including the wind at their backs.  Any cynicism seemed unfathomable to me.

Now, less than a year later, the all-too-common pessimism of Bruins fans is not only justifiable, but is quite possibly warranted.  Less than a year after the Bruins Jose Offerman’d the Canadiens out of the playoffs, they entered Sunday 0-1-2 versus Montreal this season.  Even despite the 3-0 victory, there remain plenty of reasons to believe that the Bruins will be swept right out of the playoffs in the first round if they manage to make it.  Going to seven games in the second round will be pleasantly-shocking, whereas the same fate was disappointingly-shocking last season.  What a difference a year makes…

Still… I want to remain positive despite the Bruins’ recent outburst of suckage.  To do so, I must point to two things:

First, the East remains wide open.  Despite the struggles (which is by, in large, the understatement of the year thus far), the Bruins remain only 2 points out of a potential playoff spot with 25 games remaining.  A good streak of games can put the Bruins back into the playoff picture.  After all, they can’t play any worse than they have over the past 15 or so games….can they?

Secondly, the Olympic break could come at the right time for the Bruins.  A lot of teams have expressed dissatisfaction with the break.  Surely a team like Washington, which has won 14 in a row, would be perfectly content to bypass the break and continue on down the stretch.  For a team like the Bruins, the break is an opportunity for them to get their ducks in a row.  While some Bruins players will be partaking in the Olympic games, others can get healthy, rest, briefly take their mind off hockey, and do whatever it takes to get focused for the second half.

When you’re winning, you want to ride the wave as long as you can.  When you’re losing, you just want to avoid that wave and get back to the shoreline.  Hopefully the Bruins will use the break to catch their breath before heading back into the water.