BOSTON — Elbow grease has gotten the Mighty Ducks places they don't belong this season.
They have won 27 games and stayed in a playoff race with hard work and discipline.
But take away the work ethic and they're not much. So, Coach Ron Wilson ripped into his team for not competing Thursday after they gave up five goals in 11 minutes during a second-period collapse in a 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins at Boston Garden.
"We had some guys who were just (awful) tonight. Plain and simple, that's probably why we have them," Wilson said. "I don't know, maybe the paint has come off the spots and the real leopard spots are starting to show."
The loss, coupled with San Jose's victory over Toronto, leaves the Ducks eight points behind the Sharks for the final Western Conference playoff spot with 10 games left.
"You've got to play harder than that, especially at this point in the season. This is crunch time," Wilson said. "We just didn't want to compete. When that happens you're going to get run right out of the building, and that's what happened tonight."
The Ducks led, 1-0, after the first on a goal by Stephan Lebeau--probably the Ducks' only standout all night. He certainly isn't with the Montreal Canadiens anymore.
Glen Wesley scored the first of his two goals for Boston at 3:15 of the second, but the Ducks regained the lead on Terry Yake's 21st goal at 5:46.
Twenty-nine seconds later, Adam Oates got the second of his four assists when he found Ted Donato with a pass all the way across the neutral zone and a confused cluster of Ducks, who watched Donato tie the score, 2-2.
Less than two minutes later, Glen Murray scored by knocking in a puck that was drifting through the slot and Boston led, 3-2.
Wilson called a rare timeout, and tried to get the players back in the game with a speech.
"We didn't respond at all," he said, as the Bruins scored two more times by the 13:55 mark. "We weren't competing. We were just standing around. We were awestruck by the big bad Bruins. They weren't that big, and I don't think they're that bad. So we got intimidated by their tradition.
"We just didn't compete and didn't work hard, and normally that's a given for our team."
All this against a Bruin team playing without Cam Neely and Ray Bourque because of injuries, a team that had a seven-game winless streak, its longest in seven seasons.
"We just started making one mistake after the other and we seemed to give up easily," Wilson said. "We just buckled under the pressure of the Bruins. I don't know what you can say, I'm just disappointed in the effort of a lot of people."
The players had no illusions.
"I'm not blaming the forwards, I'm not blaming the defense. This is a collective loss. Everybody didn't play well tonight," said defenseman Bobby Dollas, who was on the ice for only one goal.
"Whether we make the playoffs or don't make the playoffs, that's irrelevant to how we want to finish the year. We can't wait for teams to keep beating San Jose or beating L.A. It's eight points now. You have to come mentally and physically prepared. Sometimes you have to take an elbow to the head, take a hit. Tonight there was an overwhelming lack of effort, for probably the first time this year."