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FLAMES 5, BRUINS 0

Listless Bruins just go out for a skate

General manager Mike O'Connell has made no secret of his unhappiness with the Bruins' play the past month, citing their lack of work ethic and absence of passion.

 

If he was irritated by previous outings such as a dreadful loss to Toronto by a half-dozen goals Dec. 4, there's no doubt O'Connell has to be close to apoplexy after last night's 5-0 beating at the hands of the Calgary Flames, easily Boston's worst game of the year.

Coach Mike Sullivan said it best: "This one hurts."

It was ugly from start to finish. With the roster freeze looming at 11:59 p.m. tonight, will this be the team the Bruins have until after Christmas, when the freeze is lifted Dec. 27? Whether the club makes a change today or waits, it would shock no one -- given the Bruins' play and the GM's recent "shape up or be shipped out" comments -- if something major happens.

They have good goaltending -- although starter Andrew Raycroft was victimized last night by an utter lack of support from his teammates and was replaced at the start of the third by Felix Potvin; they have plenty of talent up front -- although Joe Thornton's line was less than mediocre against the Flames (a combined minus-8) -- and their defense on most nights is steady if unspectacular. Last night, their defense was nothing short of horrifying, turning over the puck on practically every shift.

"It's embarrassing," said defenseman Nick Boynton. "We played horrible and that's it. That's all there is to be said. You can't really say anything good came out of it. It was a [expletive] game, we played like that and that's the result you get."

The Bruins came out flat right out of the gate. The only spark they showed was when forward Doug Doull took on Flames enforcer Krzysztof Oliwa at 2:17 of the first. Doull acquitted himself well in the bout but it was all downhill from there.

Right wing Jarome Iginla, who had a pair of goals, started the barrage at 8:43 when he potted his 10th of the season. Left wing Martin Gelinas, positioned behind the goal line to Raycroft's left, threw a centering pass to Iginla, who beat Raycroft from deep in the left circle.

At 13:26, the Flames made it 2-0 on just their fourth shot. This time it was left wing Josh Green, recalled from Lowell (AHL) Dec. 6, who potted his first goal of the season. Green, deep in the right circle, flipped the puck at the net, beating Raycroft to the glove side.

The visitors added three more in the middle period as the Bruins showed no life, despite a between-periods meeting [termed "excessive" by the coach] that lasted so long the club was tardy getting back to the bench after the intermission.

Iginla beat Raycroft from the right circle at 11:36, making it a three-goal bulge.

Center Matthew Lombardi, charging down the left side, wasn't slowed by backchecking Bruins center Travis Green, and threw the puck across the slot to Iginla, who scored the third goal on seven shots.

A little more than three minutes later, the Flames potted their fourth of the night. Right wing Shean Donovan centered a pass to defenseman Jordan Leopold, who was wide open and calling for the puck.

Leopold collected the pass in the slot and snapped a shot past the glove of Raycroft at 14:45.

It officially became a rout at 17:22 when Calgary took advantage of one of Boston's many turnovers and boosted the lead to 5-0.

Defenseman Dan McGillis gave up the puck and it resulted in center Dean McAmmond potting his eighth of the year. Five goals on nine shots for Calgary made for an easy victory for the visitors and a disastrous evening for the Bruins, although only 10,659 witnessed it. The Bruins had 30 shots, but few could be considered a scoring chance.

The Flames were the hungrier team all night.

"It's disappointing," said Thornton. "There's a lot of soul-searching, a lot of looking in the mirror to see if you're doing your job out there and we just have to work as a team to get out of it. It's been tough. We played good in Ottawa, we played all right in Montreal, and then we played awful tonight."

Everyone in the dressing room knows the proverbial shoe might be close to dropping. Sullivan said he understands O'Connell's feelings, but the coach can't run out of patience.

"And it won't," Sullivan said. "I believe we have what it takes. The reality is we are in a business that demands results. If you don't get the results, then change is inevitable. I think we're all aware of it as coaches, as players, as management. That's the business that we're in. I can understand Mike's frustration and Mike will make decisions that he feels are best for the organization. It's my job to coach this team and coach the guys in our room and to get these guys on the same page and moving in the right direction, and that's what I'm determined to do."

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