Shawn Thornton has been asked often about this matter of a Stanley Cup hangover.
And why not? Up until the past five days the defending champion Boston Bruins were in a funk that pushed them into 15th in the Eastern Conference.
But then they defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-3 at home on Tuesday and followed up that game with a 7-0 victory on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday for the Bruins first two-game win streak of the season.
"I'm not sure winning the Stanley Cup has had anything to do with our start," Thornton said. "We've simply had a lot of bad bounces.
"Yes, there have been a few games that we haven't been very good in. But there are some games we definitely could have and should have won, too. The game against San Jose and one against Montreal we could have won. Obviously, we didn't but win those games but with some luck those games could have gone the other way.
"We had a lot of luck in similar situations last year. We had some games that we didn't deserve to win and we won. This year it just hasn't gone our way. We have to work through it."
The Bruins worked their way through it against the Maple Leafs. This was a game in which the Maple Leafs, first in the East, clashed with the rival Bruins, last in the East. But if you hadn't taken a glance at the standings prior to the match and heard this was a first versus worst match-up, you may have thought Boston was the first-place club and the Maple Leafs occupied the basement.
In analyzing Toronto and Boston through the first month, It probably has been more of a case in that the Bruins haven't been as bad as their 4-7-0 record entering the game and the Maple Leafs haven't played as well as their 9-3-3 record indicated.
Just look at the Maple Leafs week. They were upended in Ottawa 3-2 last Sunday. Then they benefited from two shoddy goaltender performances in back-to-back road wins over New Jersey (Martin Brodeur) on Wednesday and Columbus (Steve Mason) the next night.
"The game in Columbus actually led into this," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said his team's second loss to Boston this season. "We talked about that in between the second and third periods in Columbus. We were lucky to be up 4-0 in that game. We were allowing bad habits to creep in that hadn't been there.
"It is probably better for us to go through a game like this right now so we can focus [on what went wrong]. If we were to lose 2-1 or 3-2 or something like that, or 1-0, we could say 'oh, we were a shot away.' But we weren't anything like that. We weren't very good tonight."
The Maple Leafs certainly didn't reward their rookie goaltender Ben Scrivens for his 38-save NHL debut against the Blue Jackets on Thursday. They left the 25-year-old from Spruce Grove, Alta. on his own for the most part against the Bruins. That's why he was lifted in the second period after he surrendered his fifth goal on 14 shots.
The Bruins were led by 19-year-old Tyler Seguin's three-goal performance. But like Thornton mentioned, this is a team that has to continue to work its way through this difficult start. They have some ground to make up, after all.
The last Stanley Cup championship team to miss the playoffs the next season was the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes. Where were they after 12 games? They went 5-5-2, two points ahead of the Bruins current 5-7-0 record.
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