With a horrid start of 3-7-0 after 10 games, the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins have found themselves in the basement of the Eastern Conference. The worst start of a defending championship team since the 1994-95 New York Rangers.
This start has nothing to do with over-confidence or the "Stanley Cup hangover." This boils down to one thing and one thing only: discipline...or lack thereof...
The Boston Bruins are the second highest in the league for penalty minutes (175) and penalty minutes per game (17.5). That means they are spending nearly an entire period per game shorthanded.
It doesn't take a genius to realize that being shorthanded does not allow the offense to generate any momentum.
Last Saturday's game in Montreal was a glaring example, as the Canadiens really got under the Bruins' skin and got two power play goals and the empty net goal. Had the discipline been the there, the game could have easily went either way, as the Bruins did get back within one in the final minute of the game.
In that game, the Habs earned nine minutes of penalties. The B's? 19.
The Canadiens seemed to have found their groove, and this type of undisciplined play against a team like Montreal will end up costing you points. This is a faster team that can catch you with your proverbial pants down in the neutral zone.
So what do they need to do? Get their heads in the game and think before they react. Players like PK Subban are very good at getting under an opponent's skin, and he did a good job with Andrew Ference and Milan Lucic after making subtle hits and stick checks so that the officiating wouldn't see them, only to have the opposing player get caught with a retaliation.
Brad Marchand needs to play fire with fire. He is at his best when he gets under the opposing team's skin, and he is an offensive weapon even when shorthanded.
While it is a hole the Bruins have themselves in, it's not too deep to get themselves out of...yet.
As a coach, Claude Julien needs to talk to his team and remind them to stay cool and hit them where it hurts. On the scoreboard.
If they can keep their unnecessary penalties down, they can start playing more in the offensive zone rather than staying in their own zone because some players are not keeping their cool.
Hopefully, for B's nation's sake, the black and gold will be able to start adding some numbers in the win column and get back into the fight.
This is Cory Ducey saying, "Hit hard, and stay the *&%$ out of the box!"