BOSTON – Those Stanley Cup rings suddenly seem awfully heavy, don’t they?

After losing a home-and-home series to the hated Canadiens over the weekend, the defending Stanley Cup champs enter tonight’s home game with the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

Worse than the Ottawa Senators. Worse than the N.Y. Islanders. Worse than the lowly Winnipeg Jets.

About 90 percent of tonight’s lineup consist of players returning from last year’s championship. So what’s different this year?

Is it a lack of leadership, the loss of veteran Mark Recchi leaving a void that hasn’t been filled?

Hard to imagine the loss of a 14-goal scorer could have that big an impact.

Yet you can’t overstate Recchi’s impact in the locker room; more than half of the forwards tonight are 26 or younger.

That’s why Chris Clark, a former Washington Capitals captain, was brought into training camp and given a chance to make the team.

He didn’t — he was edged out by younger players Jordan Caron and Benoit Pouliot. Caron and Pouliet are scoreless after the first 10 games and are a combined minus-5.

Clark is still looking for a team. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider.

It’s also time for this team to regain its composure.

Make as many jokes about the “Canadien Dive Team” as you’d like, but the truth is Montreal was able to goad Boston into several retaliatory penalties in Montreal Saturday night.

The Canadiens’ power play, so bad the team fired the assistant coach in charge of it last week, went 2 for 6 and was the difference in the game.

In the spring, the Bruins were bigger and badder than everyone. They pounded their way to the Cup.

That intimidating style of play is now getting them in trouble. Entering Monday night’s games, Boston had the second-most penalty minutes in the league. Nearly one-quarter of the goals it has allowed have been power-play goals.

Coach Claude Julien has always coached a defense-first system. By his own admission, the Bruins have not been playing that way this season.

In the two games against Montreal, the forwards were not getting back to block and pack in the area in front of goalies Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. The Canadiens did, beating the Bruins at their own game.

On Thursday night, the Bruins dominated the first five minutes of the game, keeping the puck in Montreal’s end.

Yet only two shots got through to Carey Price, as Montreal blocked shot after shot.

That’s how the Bruins won it all last year. They bought into Julien’s team-first scheme. This year, they seem more like a team that wants to win with a little more flair and style, and a little less grind-it-out effort.

It won’t work.

The Bruins play at home tonight against Ottawa.

Halloween was Monday night, but the Bruins should dress up as the blue-collar gang that outworked opponents on nearly every shift last season.

That would be a treat.


Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.