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Rask believes struggling Bruins could use a beer - really, they need more goals

James Guillory / USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins have been a contender for the past half-decade, but they're reeling and frustrated at the moment. 

Since Dec. 1, the Bruins have won just five of their past 16 games. On Sunday, they dropped another decision - their third loss in a row - to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes in a shootout. 

Following the loss, goaltender Tuukka Rask suggested the club's struggles are mostly rooted between the ears.

"When things aren't going your way, you try to do too much instead of going back to basics," Rask said on Sunday. "It's mental. It's not like the skill is gone; it's just mental."

The Bruins starter went so far as to joke to reporters that perhaps his club can find answers to their current questions at the bottom of a bottle, or several bottles:

Rask's "gripping our sticks too tightly" theory was echoed by Bruins coach Claude Julien:

"(The) best way to help your team is by doing your job and doing it well," Julien continued, referring to some Bruins players trying to do too much (we don't think he was referencing Milan Lucic's coaching contributions there).

So what's really going on with a Bruins team that sits 20th in point percentage? 

Well, the club's grinding, two-way quality hasn't deteriorated - the Bruins have controlled a healthy 52.9 percent of score-adjusted shot attempts at 5-on-5 during their fruitless 16-game stretch. 

The Bruins' special-teams play has fallen off somewhat, but much of that appears to be bad luck.

Where the club really appears to be struggling is on offense and in goal. 

During Boston's current 16-game swoon, they're averaging 2.69 goals per game. That's better than the first two months, but still decidedly average. More is required and expected of a club that's finished in the top five in goals scored in three of the past four seasons.

Perhaps Boston doesn't have the personnel to generate goals at a much higher rate at this point. The loss of Jarome Iginla, combined with David Krejci's injury status and Lucic's off-year, has weakened Boston's first line enormously. Krejci and Lucic have both been outscored at 5-on-5 and buried by shot-attempt differential over the past month.

In net, meanwhile, Rask hasn't been his usual unbeatable self. The Bruins rank 18th in the league in even-strength save percentage, and Rask has managed a woeful .895 save percentage in his 13 appearances since Dec. 1. 

The good news for the Bruins is that Rask is a world-class netminder and remains a good bet to find his footing over the balance of the season. 

The bad news? The Bruins will need their goaltender to regain his dominant form rather quickly, because their offensive muscles appear legitimately atrophied. 

(Stats courtesy: and

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