I wrote a blog by the title So This is It Then in early February. For the two of you who read it, my words may have seemed oddly timed. It was about how it felt to be a fan of a team that did nothing but win. I wrote that blog then to capture the feeling, because I knew that it wasn't likely to last much longer. By February 5th the B's were already falling back to earth.
I'm not sure I like it, this business of streaking to the top of the NHL. Once you reach the top expectations are heightened, yet there is nowhere to go but down. The winning gets just a little boring, and the losing stings more than it used to.
There are now 17 games left in the season. What are the Bruins playing for? Pride? Even if they lose every remaining game they will still likely make the playoffs. The number of series you need to win for a cup is the same either way. If I'm a player I'm wondering if pride is worth an injury that might give me a top row seat for the playoffs. And now other teams are fighting for a playoff birth, some coming to top form to get there. That makes winning all the more difficult.
Confidence was a primary reason the B's played so well earlier this year. Losing your way to the post season can only erode it. If I'm the coach I'm wondering if these guys are going to play well enough to win in the first round.
It's kind of ugly, isn't it? No matter what happens in the next 17 games, the season will start again in the playoffs. The B's may lose their sting. More likely they will find it again. Either way, the next 17 games are not likely to be pivotal. My prediction is that they will go 6-7-4 for a total of 109 points to finish second in the east.
Then we can get on with it.