Time to start clicking with clock ticking
Back in the early days of the Internet, when most of us were learning the www and http way of life, the worldwide web lollygagged its way to our computer screens via dial-up connection. The wait for a page to come into focus was interminable. First a headline would appear. A minute later, a picture would begin to build. In a span of 3-4 minutes, sure enough, there it was, a home page to have and to hold.
In today’s high-speed world, when even a three-second wait between clicks makes us wonder if it’s time to call in the Geek Squad for emergency troubleshooting, that olde timey dial-up method seems so 20th century.
Watching the 2011-12 Bruins come into focus thus far has been dial-up on double-runners. The San Jose Sharks were in town last night and the Bruins cobbled together a decent 60 minutes, limiting the Sharks to 50 shot attempts while squeezing off 80 of their own. But for all they did right, they did too many things wrong - including an eye-popping 23 giveaways - and in the end their defensive boo boos and missed scoring chances added up to a 4-2 loss to Jumbo Joe Thornton and Co.
“We did a lot of good things tonight,’’ said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, he and his dial-up buddies 3-5-0 with just about one-10th of the regular-season schedule now in the books. “But the fact of the matter is, we lost.’’
Had they finished off some fine scoring chances, they could have won. If they had not fallen asleep on defensive coverage, particularly on San Jose’s second and third goals, they might be .500 in the new season. Had they started with the hop they showed at the beginning of the third period, when Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin popped in goals 29 seconds apart to forge a 2-2 tie, then, hey, no one in Bruins Nation is sweating the small stuff this morning only 2 1/2 weeks into the post-Cup run.
No one along Causeway St. is panicking, and no one is ready to call in the Puck Geeks, but these next 2-3 weeks will be critical for the team that went a long 39 siestas between Stanley Cup championships. It is now officially time to get their act in order, get focused, because the same kind of effort and outcome over the next three weeks could translate into, say, a 6-10-uh-oh record, which means they likely would be approaching Thanksgiving parked below the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Not a good position.
Historically, clubs slotted in DNQ territory around Thanksgiving spend the rest of the season in an excruciating fight to chisel their way into the 6-7-8 spots in the postseason batting order. These early weeks are meant for teams to come into focus, bank points in the standings, position themselves for a relatively easy entry into the Cup fight. Let’s not forget, the Bruins opened 7-2-0 last season before suffering their third loss, and they stood a comfortable 11-5-1 when the Kings came to town Nov. 20. They didn’t lose for a fifth time until Nov. 13. They are now three weeks ahead of that curve. Not good.
Right now, this isn’t the home page they’d like to see pop up on their screen. The Bruins appear to have shaken off their early post-Cup doldrums, the dreaded hangover, but they have yet to win back-to-back games. They tore apart the Leafs Thursday night, 6-2, then followed it with only a decent effort against the Sharks, one that got off on the wrong foot when Joe Pavelski sniped in a 25-foot wrister off a Thornton feed only 72 seconds into the action.
Pavelski’s goal was a beauty, the kind even great teams must accept and figure they can erase over the course of 60 minutes. Far worse was San Jose’s second goal that had both Benoit Pouliot and Rich Peverley leaving Logan Couture untouched in the slot. And then, after tying the score in the third, 2-2, the Bruins allowed the winner only 5:36 later when neither of their defensemen, Steven Kampfer or Andrew Ference, eliminated ex-BC Eagle Benn Ferriero as he walked into the crease area and potted in a rebound. One blown coverage. One soft coverage. Two points forfeited.
“Mental lapses,’’ noted coach Claude Julien. “We are probably battling too much of that. It’s not about not knowing, it’s about not executing.’’
And later, noting that a coach can do a number of things, including such tactics as altering lines, Julien added, “The one thing I can’t do for them is put the puck in the net.’’
It is time, said Julien, to bear down on chances, clean up loose pucks and loose thinking. With the new season still struggling to come into focus, slower than that mid-’90s dial-up service, now is the time to pick up the pace.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at GlobeKPD.