It is far from the only reason the Bruins’ seven-game winning streak came to an end against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, but their schedule certainly isn’t helping them right now.
Skate Pod: Bruins' PP continues to struggle in loss to Predators
The Bruins are currently 12 games into a brutal stretch that sees them play 15 games in 25 days. They just came off their third of what will be five straight weekends in which they play on both Saturday and Sunday. When they finally get a bit of a respite with three days between games early next week, it will mark the first time they’ve had more than one day off between games in a month.
Asked Tuesday night if the schedule is catching up to the Bruins, Brad Marchand was pretty blunt.
“Yeah, I think a little bit. This is probably the toughest schedule I’ve ever seen or been a part of,” Marchand said.
Marchand made it clear that the Bruins still should have been better on Tuesday, admitting they took the Predators -- a team not currently in the playoffs -- lightly, while pointing out that they’ve still been able to get up for bigger games, like this past weekend’s wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes.
“We obviously took them lightly,” Marchand said. “We seem to get up for the games, the teams that we could potentially face here down the road. I think we were just a little disrespectful of the game tonight against this team. Definitely fatigue comes into it, but we’re gonna run into situations where we’re tired moving forward, and you still have to be able to show up. It is what it is. Learn from it and move on.”
The Bruins seemed to play down to the Predators’ level for the first two periods, lacking energy and urgency and ultimately falling behind 1-0 late in the second period. They finally turned it on in the third and created some good chances, but it was too little too late against a very good goalie in Juuse Saros.
Bruins coach Jim Montgomery was asked if he thought the caliber of opponent factored into the lackluster effort. He acknowledged it could have, but quickly pivoted to the same thing Marchand highlighted: the schedule.
“I think [the opponent] factors into it, but I also think what factors into is we’re going into our fifth week of four in [six], and we’re just starting again,” Montgomery said. “You’re gonna have peaks and valleys with your energy levels. We try and monitor it the best we can, but the schedule’s unforgiving right now. You’re gonna lay eggs every once in a while.”
The good news for the Bruins is that they’re so far ahead in the standings -- they’re just two points away from clinching the league’s best record and home ice throughout the playoffs -- that they can afford to build in some rest games of their own. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Hampus Lindholm were all held out of Sunday’s game in Carolina. More players could get a game off during this upcoming stretch of another three games in four days from Thursday through Sunday.
Thursday night will present a similar motivational challenge as Tuesday, with the Bruins hosting a Columbus Blue Jackets team that has the worst record in the NHL.