The Boston Bruins took the ice for their annual Columbus Day matinee Monday. Traditionally, the Bruins pack up after the holiday weekend and take an extended trip while the circus invades TD Garden.

This year’s a little different. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus opens its stay on Causeway Street on Wednesday, but the Bruins will only be playing a pair of games on the road while the magicians, clowns and animals take center stage.

Cynics would say the circus began a week earlier in Boston, when the Bruins were soundly beaten 6-2 by the Winnipeg Jets during their opener on Thursday. Things haven’t looked much better since, with a 4-2 loss to Montreal on Saturday and a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday.

Boston played its first two games with its top two defensemen, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, on the injured list. Chara returned Monday, but the Bruins were without forward Brad Marchand. He suffered a concussion against the Candadiens and will be out indefinitely.

It’s too early to panic. There are still 79 games to play after Monday’s game with the Lightning. Still, Boston Coach Claude Julien isn’t willing to stand pat.

“We’ve got to keep working on making our team better,” he told the media at Sunday’s practice. “The schedule doesn’t get any easier.”

Julien had already changed two lines for that practice, moving Brett Connolly to the Patrice Bergeron/Loui Ericksson line. The hope is to get Connolly unleashed offensively, but also to create a tougher third line. Julien hopes putting Chris Kelly alongside Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes will create such a line.

The Bruins also put 27-year old defenseman Matt Irwin on waivers. The former UMass Minuteman was signed this offseason to help activate a group of defensemen bogged down by inertia last season. Instead, Irwin posted a minus-5 after two games, and repeatedly coughed up the puck in front of Tuukka Rask.

The hope is that a healthy Chara will slide back into the top of the Bruins defensive depth chart, allowing everyone else on the blue line to move down a notch and play a role more suited to their skill level. At some point, Seidenberg will return and make everyone even better.

That won’t be for weeks or even months. The team can’t wait that long to get going in the right direction.

In the past 13 months the Bruins traded away Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton. If both were wearing black and gold today, there’d be more Stanley Cup talk.

Instead, it feels a little like the Red Sox back in April. Boston moved on from Jon Lester and John Lackey hoping the sum of their rotation would be better than the individual parts.

Back in the day, the Bruins would often return to the old Boston Garden after their October road trip and settle into a home that held the odor of elephants long after the circus packed up and left. Right now, the Bruins are hoping to put the stench of opening week behind them.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.