In the parity of today’s NHL, one good run can go a long way for a team.

Last year the Philadelphia Flyers used a 9-3-2 record in March to sneak into the playoffs after it looked like they would be an also-ran. Two years ago the Ottawa Senators went on an incredible 22-4-3 run to end the regular season. Both the Flyers and Senators nudged the Boston Bruins out of the playoffs essentially by one game.

This season the Bruins might not need a historic streak but they certainly could use an extended run of success.

“That’s what we have to do, especially in the position that we’re in, fighting for our lives,” winger Brad Marchand said after an anemic 3-0 loss to the Devils on Monday. “We do have to get on a roll, put a few wins together and get on a streak.”

But are these Bruins capable? At 20-16-4, they seem in a constant mode of two steps forward, two steps back. They have two three-game winning streaks and prevented a third with a head-scratching, no-show performance in New Jersey against a team that had a minus-28 goal differential and was missing two centers in Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson.

The Bruins responded with their most lifeless performance since willingly playing into the Ottawa Senators’ 1-3-1 defensive system in a Nov. 24 loss.

“I just don’t think we were sharp mentally. Whether it’s hitting the net or not seeing plays out there, I think our focus wasn’t there,” defenseman Torey Krug said. “It’s one of those things where you have to expect more out of yourself and hold yourself accountable to the team. If everyone does that, we’re better overall.”

You might expect games like that every now and then. With forwards Matt Beleskey (knee) and David Backes (concussion) out, the Bruins dressed a half-dozen players in their first or second NHL seasons.

But the veterans were every bit as culpable as the younger players in Monday’s loss.

“First and foremost, we’re all in this together,” Krug said. “You can’t have anyone, old or young, falling behind and dragging the team down. It doesn’t matter if you’re a superstar or a first-year player, fourth-line guy, we have to do a better job playing together as a team and holding yourself accountable.

“Your teammates have to know what they’re going to get out of you every single shift when you jump over the boards. If we do that and guys stick to their roles, we’re a good team. It just wasn’t there (on Monday).”

The Bruins got back to practice Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s tough home game against the Edmonton Oilers.

If there’s a lack of focus, as Krug suggested, bringing in some new blood from Providence can have a way of snapping players to attention. There are a couple of prospects.

Peter Cehlarik, who had a good training camp, leads Providence with 14 goals in 27 games. Jake DeBrusk, one of the Bruins’ three first-round draft picks in 2015, also is heating up. While averaging more than three shots a game, he’s getting rewarded for it with six points (four goals) in his past six games.

However the Bruins plan to address their woeful performance – and it’s important not to overreact to one game – everyone must know that what happened Monday is unacceptable.

Maybe then they can go on that one big run.


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