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Details need attention

Sullivan is upbeat despite lethargy

Fast becoming the basis of a GEICO commerical, in which some smiling yahoo boasts of a $150 savings on his car insurance while a despondent Jeremy Jacobs sits alone in a near-empty FleetCenter, the Bruins tested a new bottom last night with a lackluster, dispirited 5-0 loss to the Calgary Flames on Causeway Street.

 

Times like these bring the obvious question: does head coach Mike Sullivan have this team's attention?

"I don't question whether I have their attention," said the rookie bench boss. "I believe we have what it takes in the room, and it's my responsibility to bring it out."

The problem is, virtually nothing has been coming out of the Black and Gold for the better part of a month. They are a grim 2-5-5-1 (a .385 winning percentage) in the 13 games dating to Nov. 22 and they are winless in their last six games (0-3-3) on home ice. They have scored only three goals in their last four home games.

With last night's loss, the Bruins are on pace for 33 wins this season, what would be their worst total since going 24-33-19-6 in 1999-2000, the first of back-to-back seasons in which they failed to qualify for the playoffs.

"We all know Sully's a good coach," said veteran forward Brian Rolston, who managed two shots on a night when the Bruins outshot the opposition, 30-14. "I don't understand why you wouldn't listen to him. He's a smart coach, and he has the right answer."

Whatever those answers are, Sullivan will have to provide them in a hurry to prevent what would be a second disastrous freefall in as many seasons. Over the last month, the Bruins have consistently failed to attain the emotional commitment it takes to compete shift-to-shift in the NHL.

"Mike treats us like we want to be treated -- he treats us with respect," said Rolston. "He's not a guy to come in here and rant and rave, even if we are almost forcing him to."

The Bruins were nearly nailed with a two-minute bench minor at the start of the second period when the club was late to arrive back to the bench after the intermission. The delay, said Sullivan, was due to an "excessive meeting".

If Sullivan isn't going to rant and rave, perhaps the players will summon some emotional steam.

"Ranting and raving aren't going to do anything," said Rolston. "It's a matter of wanting to go out there and win."

Such desire was barely evident against the reviving Flames. Team-wide, the Bruins finished a minus-25. Defenseman Dan McGillis, team captain Joe Thornton, and right wing Glen Murray led the futility with a minus-3 each. The No. 1 line centered by Thornton, with Mike Knuble and Murray the wingers, again was shut out. Over the last eight games, the Seven Hundred Pound line has generated only 7 points.

Night after night, no emotion and no points and no progress. And right now, no obvious way out.

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