No longer one of the NHL's top teams, the Boston Bruins can't afford to coast through the regular season.
But that's exactly what Brad Marchand has seen from some of his teammates during Boston's 2-5-0 start to the month of November.
"We know that we’re not all playing our best every night and we have to," Marchand told reporters after Tuesday's 5-4 loss to San Jose. "I think right now, if we’re going to get out of this and we’re going to put a few wins together, we need to have everyone going every night. Can’t have any passengers at all. If we have one, it’s enough to cost us the game, and right now, we have way too many."
A lack of engagement was further cited by head coach Claude Julien.
"There’s potential here," Julien said. "(Our game) has proven in the past to work against any team, but right now, I don’t think we've got the full commitment of the whole group."
Through 17 games - in which the Bruins have gone 8-8-1 - Julien's club has had no trouble scoring, ranking third in the NHL with 3.29 goals per game while converting on a league-high 35.2 percent of their power-play opportunities. At the other end of the ice, however, Boston is allowing a 26th-ranked 3.18 goals against per game, with a penalty kill that sits dead last in the NHL.
The defensive performance raises questions about the makeup of a blue line that has lost the likes of Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, and Matt Bartkowski over the past 13 months. The failure to adequately replace that trio certainly can't be overlooked when assessing the Bruins' performance to date.
It also certainly doesn't help that starting goalie Tuukka Rask has posted a disastrous .890 save percentage - further evidence of the lack of a complete roster in front of him.
The Bruins aren't going to roll over the opposition, and, as Marchand said, they can't afford to have players out on the ice not giving 100 percent shift in and shift out.