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Monday, October 31, 2011
Bruins need to worry about themselves

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- There are a lot of people who are nauseated by the fact that the Boston Bruins are 3-7-0 in their first 10 games of the 2011-12 season.

That sick feeling resonates behind closed doors for the defending Stanley Cup champions, and Bruins coach Claude Julien and his players are looking for answers to end the drought.

"There's obviously going to be frustration when things don't go your way," forward Milan Lucic said. "It's like a reverse effect, like you're in quicksand. When you're trying too hard, it tends to go the other way. For us, as a team, we just need to focus on what we do best and simplify things."
Patrice Bergeron
Patrice Bergeron says the Bruins aren't doing enough good things to win and will be in for a challenge Tuesday against Ottawa.

Facing a red-hot team in the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at TD Garden could help the struggling Bruins, especially if Boston can pull off a victory and snap its three-game losing skid. Ottawa comes to town with a six-game winning streak, but it's not the Senators who worry the Bruins. It's the Bruins who worry the Bruins.

"Every team we've played so far has given us a challenge," Julien said. "It's about our team finding its way. We're struggling right now as a team, and that's the biggest issue we're trying to fix."

The Senators are 7-3-0 in their past 10 games and 7-5-0 overall.

"They're on a hot streak right now, and they're a great team," Patrice Bergeron said. "They're a young team with a lot of energy and they've been playing well, so it's going to be a tough challenge. For us, it's about us and not who we are playing right now. We have to make sure we're playing our game and go from there."

The Bruins have not been able to win back-to-back games yet this season, and even though the word "close" has been used time and again, the on-ice performances indicate something different. After Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the Bruins returned home, and Julien held a video session with the entire team on Sunday.

"Close is not good enough in this league, and we've got to realize that," Bergeron said. "We are doing some good things but not enough good things to win."

The Bruins returned to the practice ice Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena as Julien conducted an hourlong practice with a lot of repetition during the drills. It seemed more deliberate as the team attempts to fix what is wrong.

"If guys are cheating through drills, then you're going to cheat through games," Julien said. "You create habits in practice, and that's where it has to start, so it becomes second nature in the games. If we're not going to work hard in practice and work the way we should in a game, then we shouldn't expect the results to happen when game time comes around.

"This has been a thing since Day 1. That level of play that we got accustomed to has not been found yet. Why do teams have energy? They have energy because things are going well and you feed off the positive. When things aren't going well, as much as you want to try to find that energy, it's not that obvious to find. That's why you've got to work extra hard to get yourself out of it and get yourself a couple of wins."

Bruins forward Gregory Campbell was one of the first players on the ice before Monday's practice and one of the last off. Each day, each game seems to have a similar ending for the Bruins, and the frustration level has already reached a season high -- and it's only the end of October.

"That's a natural reaction to losing," Campbell said. "I don't think frustration is the answer; executing better, working harder, making better plays and ultimately winning is the answer. Being frustrated isn't going to help, feeling sorry for ourselves isn't going to help. The solution is in this room, so it's up to us to find it."

The Bruins sit in the cellar of the Eastern Conference. Boston had the worst October record by a defending champion since the 1990-91 Edmonton Oilers went 2-7-2 to start the season.

The last time the Bruins had six points or fewer through 10 games was the 1999-2000 season, when they were 1-5-4. That team won just 24 games and finished in last place in the Northeast Division.

This is a challenging time for the Bruins. There's not some sort of magic pill that will cure all this. They just need to win -- and win soon.

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.