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Bruins DieHard: Just Playing Well Enough To Win Won't Get It Done

BOSTON (CBS) -- It's "The System." But just what is it?

To a man, if you ask the Boston Bruins what makes them a winning team, they will tell you it's "the system." If they play their system then everything works on the ice and they come out with two points on a nightly basis, sometimes rather impressively. But all too often this year, through 40 games (just about halfway through the season) they haven't played that system.

The Bruins have had no identity this year. They have problems scoring, they have problems keeping the puck out of their net at crucial times and they have problems whenever it takes more than 60 minutes to decide a game. After this weekend's overtime and shootout losses, it is apparent that there is no such thing as "winning time" for the Boston Bruins.

After Saturday's overtime loss to Ottawa, Bruins coach Claude Julien said his team's effort "was good enough" to win, but the result was not there.

"We're not winning those and it's frustrating for everybody," he said.

Playing well enough to win and then going on to lose seems to be the only consistent thing the Bruins are achieving this season.

Sunday's shootout loss to Carolina would certainly not fall into that category. It was flat out embarrassing from the start and Boston was lucky, fortunate, and thankful that they were playing the second-worst team in the National Hockey League. Still, Boston was outshot 14-4 in the first period and did not register a shot on goal until there were just over three minutes left in the opening stanza. They managed a mere two shots on former Bruin Anton Khudobin in the third. That is NOT playing well enough to win; that was surviving the Hurricanes.

We could have seen Sunday's flop coming though. In the second part of back-to-backs this season, Boston has one win in seven contests.

Say what you want about Tuukka Rask, and there are many lunkheads out there suggesting that the Bruins should trade their netminder, but he has kept his team in numerous games, including both contests this weekend. Rask gave up two goals on Saturday and just one on Sunday in regulation, which should be enough to win in the NHL. But that is not the case when the guys in front of you can't hit water if they fell out of a boat. Basic math tells you that you cannot win games if you cannot score goals -- no matter who is tending goal.

So it appears that no system is working. No line changes, or lineup changes, have made a difference in the identity of this team halfway through the 2014-15 campaign. I'm not sure what management can do while they are so hamstrung with salary cap issues, but right now, they are far away from a playoff spot (currently sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference), and it doesn't look like the winds of change are in the air.

Whatever system the Boston Bruins say works for them, they had better dump it quickly and latch on to a new one. Otherwise, they may be entering the Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid sweepstakes -- a contest many thought (including the Bruins themselves) they would never be able to get into. But they're closer we could have imagined.

Ric Duarte has covered hockey and the Bruins for various media outlets since 1986. You can follow Ric at and on Twitter @bruins_diehard.


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