WILMINGTON -- No one needs to tell the Bruins that if they don't snap out of their protracted slump, changes are coming -- and sooner rather than later.
One player who knows he's a potential candidate to be traded is left wing Sergei Samsonov, whose contract expires at the end of the season, at which time he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
''You hear things, you think about it, absolutely," said Samsonov, who is married with a young daughter and has played his entire NHL career with the Bruins. ''One way or the other, if we keep on losing, change is going to come. If the guys like the teammates they have on the team, they'd better start realizing that they might not have them. If you're going to keep on losing, there's going to be changes, absolutely."
To a man, said Samsonov, the entire team is upset at the way the season has gone. Losing eight of their past nine heading into tonight's game in New Jersey and falling to 8-12-3-2 with nearly a third of the season gone has taken its toll.
''Everybody is frustrated, no question about it," he said. ''There are a lot of angry faces around here, and we have to bring that to the game. Don't be mad at yourself or anybody else. You have to come out and be mad at the other team and take that approach. Just come out with an attitude.
''We've lost so many games in the last two months, it's ridiculous. We have to look in the mirror and just come out with the attitude that we're not going to lose today. It seems like we don't have that."
They've had meetings, watched video, endured hard practices, and been publicly criticized by owner Jeremy Jacobs. However, the losses still mount.
''Whatever we've been doing, it's not working," said Samsonov. ''We obviously have to stick together. We definitely have a good team in here, but we have to be more accountable -- everybody -- for what we do on the ice. If somebody is not going certain nights, you have to tell them to pick it up. I don't think it should be taken to heart or anything like that but we're trying to win games here and we're just trying to get everybody going."
Samsonov, whose rookie season was 1997-98, said this is the roughest stretch he can recall.
''I don't remember losing so many games in two months, especially at the beginning of a season," he said. ''We've had little ups and downs during a season, in January and February, but not at the beginning of a season. This has been by far the toughest."
The Bruins believe it's imperative they win tonight against the Devils.
''Every game matters now," Samsonov said. ''The sooner we get out of this mess, the easier it's going to be on us."
Goaltender Andrew Raycroft said the Bruins have to keep their game simple and their goals short-term. Just win a shift, win a period, and eventually it will mean winning games.
''We really have to go one game at a time right now and one day at a time," Raycroft said. ''We know what's going wrong, we just have to find a way to take care of it. When things go bad, you try to address one thing, and another thing goes wrong. You don't get a complete thing because guys are too focused on negatives and not just playing. We just have to keep working and get out of it."
When asked if this was a make-or-break week with regard to the possibility of drastic changes, Raycroft said he didn't know.
''I'm not thinking that way and I don't think guys are thinking that way," he said. ''It's pretty difficult for us to know what everyone else is thinking who's in charge, what direction they want to go in. If we're thinking about that, we're in trouble. We know if we win, there won't be any change, and if we lose, there's going to be change. That's the business."
The Senators come to town Thursday, and there is still a bitter taste in the Bruins' mouths after their embarrassing 4-2 loss in Ottawa Saturday. It was the third time they've lost to the Northeast Division leaders, and to see them again so soon is a mixed blessing.
''If we win Thursday, it's a great thing," Raycroft said. ''If we're not playing well, then it's not a good thing. It should give us more incentive. Because they took it to us Saturday, that's fresh in our minds and we can use it to our advantage on Thursday. And we have to use it to our advantage [tonight]."