Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Even when the Boston Bruins recently came up with a much needed victory, they couldn't keep the bad news away for long.
David Krejci, Boston's top-line centerman, left Friday's 5-1 setback in St. Louis with an injury and was sent back home for evaluation before the club ended a six-game slide with Sunday's surprising, 6-2 victory in Chicago.
On Monday, however, an update on Krejci's status came through and revealed the Bruins would be without the forward for the next 4-to-6 weeks with a partially torn MCL in his left knee. The news came only a few days after Boston learned defenseman Kevan Miller would need season-ending surgery to repair his injured shoulder.
Then, before Boston added to its woes with Tuesday's regulation loss against the visiting Vancouver Canucks, the club announced forward Gregory Campbell would miss a week with an upper-body issue.
Boston has been dealing with injuries to key players all season long, and even lost captain Zdeno Chara for over a month earlier in 2014-15. But the injury problems only tell a small part of the story for the Bruins, a franchise that is struggling mightily only a few years after returning to its championship form for the first time since the halcyon days of Bobby Orr.
The Bruins find themselves locked in a dogfight for the last playoff spot in the East after many people expected the club to challenge for the Eastern Conference crown.
Boston won its first Stanley Cup since 1972 when it beat the Canucks in seven games back in 2011. The B's also won the Eastern Conference title in 2013 before losing to Chicago in the Cup Finals and there was reason to believe they could make another deep run when the 2015 playoffs rolled around.
As it stands now, the Bruins would settle for simply making the postseason. Whether they will qualify is very much up in the air.
Thanks in part to Boston's recent struggles, the club only holds a two-point lead over the Florida Panthers for the second and final wild card spot in the East, and teams like the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers, who seemed out of the postseason race a month ago, have been given new life.
And if the Bruins don't make the playoffs, there could be some serious repercussions for two people who did more than anyone else to build and develop Boston's recent championships team. Those men are general manager Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien, who, according to recent reports, could be fired if the B's fail to make the postseason tournament.
Chiarelli has made his share of blunders over the last few years, mistakes like not getting nearly enough when he traded away Tyler Seguin to Dallas only to see him turn into one of the league's most productive scorers with the Stars.
The GM also has made a mess of his team's salary cap situation, causing him to let veteran winger Jarome Iginla leave for free agency and to trade away defenseman Johnny Boychuk back in September. Boychuk, of course, is now an integral part of the New York Islanders' renaissance and the Bruins never found a suitable replacement for Iginla, who currently is leading the Colorado Avalanche in points.
The same cap problems also could prevent from Chiarelli from making an impactful deal when the trade deadline rolls around on Monday.
Although Chiarelli helped Boston lift a sixth Stanley Cup banner to the rafters at TD Garden, it seems he is now being judged more on his recent failures than his high points of a few years back. If the Bruins miss out on the postseason in 2014-15 after last spring's disappointing second-round playoff exit against Montreal, he could be out of a job along with Julien, who was hired in the summer of 2007 a year into Chiarelli's tenure as GM.
Chiarelli was asked about the report that said either team CEO Charlie Jacobs or president Cam Neely was thinking about making him or Julien pay the price for this season's failure.
"Whether it's Cam or Charlie who said we're all under review, I understand that," Chiarelli said. "We've had a lot of success here in my tenure and Claude's tenure. We're having a down year. It's unfortunate that we're under review for one year. But I understand. We've got to make things better."
My guess is Julien's closer to getting fired than Chiarelli is, and there's little chance either guy loses his job before this season is over. Chiarelli has said he hasn't thought about firing the coach and is unlikely to do so at this juncture. But if he has to put Julien's head on the chopping block in a few months to save his own job, it's obvious he would do just that.
Boston has about a quarter of a season (22 games) left to try to prove itself playoff-worthy, and possibly save the jobs of its coach and general manager. The problem is the club's talent level has dropped considerably due to harmful trades and injuries to significant players.
The cap issues also mean help is probably not on the way in terms of improving the club via a deadline deal. The improvement likely needs to come from within, and if it doesn't we could be looking at big changes down the road for a team that until recently was considered a perennial Cup contender.
Like Julien said after learning of the severity of Krejci's injury, "We've got to get through with what we've got."