So what is up with the 2011 Stanley Cup finalists?
The Bruins entered Saturday’s play at 4-7. Boston is struggling to score goals – and Nathan Horton’s sluggish return from post-concussion syndrome isn’t helping.
“I'm still trying to get my game back,” Horton told the Boston Herald. “I don't feel 100 per cent out there, like I'm myself. I'm just trying to get that back. With my timing and stuff I still don't feel like I'm myself out there. I mean, I'm fine but I just need to be better.”
Horton has five points and a minus-3 rating in 11 games. No. 1 center David Krejci has one goal, no assists and a minus-6 rating in eight games.
Supporting cast members Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell have just one assist each in their 11 games. Benoit Pouliot has no points in eight games.
Only young gun Tyler Seguin (11 points, plus-8 in 11 games) is playing to his full offensive potential.
Coach Claude Julien cracked the whip in practice this week, leaning on the troops with long, demanding practices. “It's getting better,” he said of his team’s effort level. “I'm not saying it's perfect but it's getting better," Julien said of his team's overall play.”
The work won’t get easier for the Bruins, who are in Toronto to face the high-flying Maple Leafs tonight. Toronto is 5-0-1 at home, where is has been able to force opponents into wide-open games.
Meanwhile Vancouver has been only slightly better. The Canucks are 6-7-1 after suffering road losses at Minnesota and St. Louis.
At least the defending Western Conference champions competed against the Blues, something that didn’t happen during a chaotic 5-1 loss to the Wild.
“This has got to be one of the worst performances I’ve been a part of in this jersey,” defenseman Kevin Bieksa told the Vancouver Province. “It was everybody tonight. We all take the blame for it. We made a lot of turnovers.”
Their effort against the Blues was somewhat cleaner.
“We do feel better about the effort,” Bieksa told the Province. “It was more of a complete game and we stuck to the process, but you're not always going to win the close ones. I feel like it was a good step forward. If we keep playing like this, we're going to win a lot of games.”
On the down side, the Canucks lost power forward Alex Burrows to back spasms during the Blues loss. If he can’t make a quick return, Vancouver will have to shuffle its lines again while searching for just the right chemistry.