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Sports

April 25, 2013

Bruins must focus on strong end of regular season

Boston fans and players have mourned, observed moments of silence and heard rousing chants for the city and its teams.

Even so-called hated rivals have turned down the trash talk and turned up the tributes for the Bruins. The Philadelphia Flyers were the latest team to pitch in with charitable contributions and video clips of marathon first responders and other rescue personnel.

But once you get past the stirring national anthems and cathartic moments, hockey has become the hard part for the Bruins.

In danger of losing the Northeast Division lead, the Bruins have dropped five of six games, including a 5-2 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday night. They have had mental lapses while allowing ugly goals and too many turnovers for a team with hopes of winning a second Stanley Cup in three seasons.

Whatever the reason for the ill-timed slump, coach Claude Julien has seen enough, though the Bruins can still salvage a strong postseason seed.

“We’re running out of time here to get this stuff going,” Julien said. “You always hope that it’s some sort of wakeup call. But the way the season has gone, you’re questioning whether it will or not.”

The Bruins (27-13-5) sit in second place in the Eastern Conference and lead the division. But the Bruins and Montreal (27-14-5) both have 59 points. New Jersey beat Montreal 3-2 on Tuesday night. With three games left for Boston, and two for Montreal, the race for second will come down to the final week.

The Bruins are trying to give their fans a reason to cheer for their play on the ice.

“It hasn’t been easy, mentally,” Julien said. “But everybody has to get back to work. For us to use that an excuse, it would not be a good excuse. We should be using it the other way. We should be thriving on it instead of using it as a crutch.”

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