It's no secret to anyone watching hockey in Massachusetts that the Boston Bruins have been on a bit of a slide - losing four of their last five, and not winning a single game since December 15 against the New York Islanders. Even then, it took them to the shootout to eke out a victory against the Islanders.
Now going into a stretch of seven games where they play the see teams ranging anywhere from the Pittsburgh Penguins all the way to the Colorado Avalanche, the Bruins come into to Tuesday's matchup with the Buffalo Sabres in a must-win situation.
While Boston still sits atop the Atlantic Division, and just second in the conference, it has caught some luck collecting almost as many overtime/shootout losses as they have losses in regulation, but now coming into a game against a Sabres' team that typically seems to always give them a hard time, it's crucial the Bruins pull this one out, here are three reasons why.
Thought #1 - They cannot play down to their competition
Recently, Boston has lost to a few teams that they probably should not have. It's not to say those other teams are not good, it's just that given where they are positioned in the standings, the Bruins have no business losing to teams like the Minnesota Wild or the Winnipeg Jets.
Those are three losses that should have easily been three wins. In addition to those two, their overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils is not something that should happening, especially in the comeback fashion that it did.
Now, while some of those games may have exposed some weaknesses in Boston's game, it shouldn't phase the Bruins going into tonight's game. If they do, they could up a creek with a small paddle.
Thought #2 - Too much time off has been bad, it's time to show it's not critical
Throughout the season thus far, when Boston has had time off for an extended period of time it has been shown to have an adverse effect on the team. Instead of feeling more rested going into the game, they have looked sluggish.
In this game, it is time for them to prove to the hockey world that time off can be bad for them, but it is not a critical mistake to let them rest.
Rest can be good in hockey when you are hot and need to sit a few players, but right now, the Bruins need to right the ship and make sure that they get off this snide before they get into this upcoming stretch of tough teams.
Thought #3 - If Toronto can lose to them big, so can Boston
A few weeks back, Boston was in Toronto and was able to handle the Maple Leafs - defeating them in overtime. Just earlier in week on December 21, Buffalo took that same Toronto team and scored nine goals on it.
Maybe the Maple Leafs were having an off night, or the Sabres just caught fire that night, but looking at that game, the Bruins know they cannot have an off-night and let them pounce on the opportunity.
With Buffalo scoring the only two third period goals in the season series thus far, it is critical that Boston get out to early (and sizeable) lead so they are not on consistently playing on their toes as time is winding down in the game.
When is the game?
The game will be at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y., puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. It will be televised on Max and TNT.