November 17, 2011

Bruins can't afford to lose to woeful Blue Jackets

By Jesse Connolly

BOSTON – With the Bruins winning streak currently at six games and counting, a quick glance at the standings out West would lead many to believe that victory No. 7 is already in the bag.

Chris Kelly and the Bruins will look to make it seven wins in a row when they take on Columbus tonight. (Getty)

The B’s are set to take on the woeful Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at TD Garden, a squad that’s not just stumbled but fallen face first into a pile of you-know-what out of the gate. The Jackets currently sit in last place in the entire NHL, as they’ve won just three of their first 17 games.

“I don’t want to be No. 4. I guess that’s the big thing,” Shawn Thornton said of potentially being the fourth team to lose to Columbus this season. “But whether you’re playing a team that’s No. 1 or the last place team, it shouldn’t matter. Everyone is capable of winning in this league on any given night.”

Even against a Bruins squad that’s been steamrolling their opponents for the last two weeks?

“It’s one game at a time,” said Thornton. “It’s a cliché but it’s true and it’s really what has made us successful in the past. I think we can’t look at the last six games. We don’t worry about that. We just focus on tonight, try to win the next one and pretend nothing has happened.”

Though the Blue Jackets do sport a minus-26 goal differential on the year, Bruins center Chris Kelly is under the impression that Columbus has caught every bad break humanly possible.

“You don’t really see them that often because they’re in the West, but from what we’ve heard, there’s been a number of bad bounces and bad breaks for them,” he said. “We need to be at our best tonight.”

And if the Bruins aren’t, a loss to their abysmal visitors would certainly undo all the good they’ve done throughout their lengthy winning streak.

“The past six games have been good, but people will quickly forget about those six games if we don’t come out here and play our best,” Kelly said. “We know that. We have to focus on coming out and being consistent and playing the brand of hockey that we’re used to.”

And perhaps more importantly, the Bruins want to close out their five-game homestand with an unblemished record and take off for a three-game road swing with some serious momentum.

“They had a bit of a rough start, but they’ve had a few wins in the last few games and they’re playing much better,” defenseman Adam McQuaid said of the Blue Jackets, the team that selected him in the second round of the 2005 draft. “Really it’s about us just worrying about ourselves. We want to keep moving forward and continuing to do the things we’ve been doing and improving areas we’ve been improving.

“We want to finish the homestand out on a good note going out on the road and keep moving up the standings. We’re not where we want to be yet, so it’s a pretty big game for us.”