|11.01.11 at 11:57 am ET|
The Senators are riding a six-game point streak thanks to solid offense and the best power play in the league, but their biggest weakness may provide an opening for the Bruins to break out of their own offensive slump.
The Bruins are currently 26th in the league with just 2.10 goals per game, and on Tuesday they’ll face a team that is used to allowing more goals than that. Led by starting goaltender Craig Anderson, the Senators have allowed a league-worst 3.8 goals per game. Though they’re 7-5-0, the have a minus-6 goal differential on the season.
Might this be the Bruins chance to ramp up their scoring and even notch a W? The B’s plead ignorance regarding how poor Ottawa’s goaltending has been, but there’s no denying that Tuesday presents them with a good opportunity.
“They’ve got a really good goaltender who’s able to steal games,” Rich Peverley said. “I think it’s about going to the net and doing the small things tonight.”
Since scoring six goals on Oct. 20 against Toronto, the B’s have totaled five goals over a three-game losing streak. While this could be a chance for the B’s to score like they did against the Leafs, their main priority when it comes to goals is to just have more than the Senators. When a team is as desperate as the Bruins are for some points, it’s that simple.
“We’re just looking to come out and try to win,” Chris Kelly said. “It doesn’t matter how we do it or how many goals we score. We just want to find a way to get two points.”
|11.01.11 at 11:41 am ET|
The Bruins held an optional morning skate Tuesday, with only three players taking the ice in Steven Kampfer, Benoit Pouliot and Tuukka Rask.
While it’s no surprise that Kampfer won’t play Tuesday against the Senators, it’s interesting that Pouliot skated. He didn’t play Saturday due to illness, though he returned to the ice Monday. Expect Jordan Caron to play in his place Tuesday, though it’s unknown whether a potential night off for Pouliot would be due to illness or a healthy scratch.
Expect Tim Thomas to be in net Tuesday.
|10.31.11 at 8:22 pm ET|
As surprising as it seems, even a good start might not have prevented the Bruins from trailing the Senators in the standings’¦ seriously.
While there’s been plenty of attention paid to the last-place Bruins’ 3-7-0 start to the season, folks in Boston might not know that the Senators — the same Senators who picked sixth overall in June’s draft — are 7-5-0 and are currently on a six-game winning streak. That’s bad news for fans who saw Ottawa on the schedule for Tuesday and thought the Bruins would finally have an easy one.
Leading the Senators in points is former second overall pick Jason Spezza, who scored two goals in Saturday’s win over the Rangers and has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists). Milan Michalek is on pace for a career season with 13 points (seven goals, six assists).
While the Senators have averaged three goals per game, it’s rather surprising that they have the record they do when considering they have allowed a league-worst 3.75 goals per game. Craig Anderson (6-2-0) has a 3.66 goals against average in 10 games, while Alex Auld (0-3-0) has a 4.88 GAA. Robin Lehner has won his only start, allowing two goals.
If the Bruins want to snap their three-game losing streak, they’ll have to take advantage of the fact that they have the goaltending to stop Ottawa’s offense and take advantage of an opportunity to bust out of their offensive funk.
|10.31.11 at 5:21 pm ET|
Last week, we noted the Bruins should want to be either in or very close to the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference by the time the first of November rolls around. Now, the day isn’t over yet, but chances are there will be no Halloween miracle that takes the Bruins out of dead last before the second month of the season, and based on history, that means they’re in deep trouble.
Without totally recycling last week’s story, each of the last two seasons has seen only one Eastern Conference team not in the top eight on Nov. 1 go on to make the playoffs. That means, for the most part at least, that the playoff picture is largely made up after a month, and it barely changes.
So, with the Bruins 3-7-0 and in last place at the end of October, they are going to have a heck of a climb back into the playoff picture if they don’t want the season that follows June’s Stanley Cup victory to be a colossal failure. It means they’re going to need to turn things around quickly to avoid suffering the fate so many teams who start slow, finish strong and still miss the playoffs, see every season. Last year, it was the Devils and the Hurricanes whose stellar play late couldn’t save them, but those teams didn’t have nearly the expectations of the depending champs.
“You look back at things like this [later in the season],” Milan Lucic said Monday. “Obviously, there’s adversity that you have to face throughout the season. For us, it’s right now. We’ve got to figure it out quick, because I know it’s only 10 games, but you know how many teams that have had starts like this that haven’t been able to recover.
“You look at New Jersey last year, who finished as probably the best team since January, and they weren’t able to recover. You can reflect on this. Obviously we’ll see what happens down the road, but we’ve got to do everything we can to get out of this as quick as possible. We’re going to have to do it as a team and as a group effort. The only way we’re going todo this is if we help each other.”
There seems to be an understanding throughout the Bruins’ dressing room that as far as time for struggles go, this is it. They won’t be able to slump at later points in the season, because with overtime losses in place, it will be hard enough as it is for them to gain ground.
“Basically, every team in the league is going to go through a rough patch at some point this year. Our’s is right now, unfortunately. We understand that this is our rough patch, and we won’t be able to have another one, or we’re going to sink ourselves,” Claude Julien said. “There’s a lot of things that you just keep trying to figure our they those things happen, and there are no answers. ‘¦ Right now if we had the answer, it would have been fixed. That’s why you try to find those answers.”
Whatever the answers are, the Bruins need to find them quick. The last defending champion to miss the playoffs was the 2006-07 Hurricanes.
|10.31.11 at 3:35 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Count Brad Marchand among the large group of Bruins players who have gotten off to poor starts this season, as the second-year pest, who scored 21 goals as a rookie, has been awfully quiet of late.
Marchand scored the Bruins’ first goal of the season and had two assists in the team’s second game against the Lightning, but much like his team, his production has gone downhill since. The 23-year-old had a third-period goal in the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes on Oct. 12, but since then has been kept off the scoring sheet in the last six games.
After such a strong rookie campaign, Marchand said that the one area in which he was focused on improving was getting pucks to the net. He did a pretty good job of that in the early going (two or more shots on goal in the first eight games), but has put just one puck on net over the last two games.
Despite his lack of production and lack of effectively bugging the opponent, Marchand isn’t expressing much frustration with his own game yet.
“Sometimes you get more opportunities [in some games] than you do in different games, but I just want to keep working hard and continue to build confidence,” Marchand said. “Hopefully the goals will come.”
As for the lack of getting under opponents’ skin, Marchand admitted there hasn’t been as much jawing and egging on, but that it’s been by design.
“I’ve been trying to stay away from that stuff doing too much of that stuff this year and just worry about playing, but I think I’m going to have to get back to it so I can play the same way I did last year,” Marchand said.
That he’s cut back on being a nuisance at all is surprising. Much like Milan Lucic with fighting, it seems players abandoning one aspect of their game can hurt their overall impact. Marchand rose to stardom a season ago not just for his scoring, but his complete package of grit, penalty-killing and his ability to drive opponents crazy.
Marchand has remained with Patrice Bergeron on the second line throughout the season, the there’s been a revolving door for the line’s right wing. The line started with Rich Peverley in Mark Recchi‘s old spot, and had Nathan Horton for a bit before Claude Julien put Tyler Seguin on the line.
Marchand and Bergeron work well together, as they did last season following his promotion from the team’s first line, but the success hasn’t been there yet. The Nova Scotia native said Monday he hasn’t observed any real differences in how teams and referees approach him this year.
“Not really,” Marchand said. “Every time you play a team, they play you hard and play you strong. Usually, Bergie’s line’s playing against the top line on the other team and trying to shut them down. Playing against top guys, it’s a little tougher.”
There’s no denying Marchand doesn’t have the easiest job in the world, but he faced top lines last season as well. Whether this is some sort of sophomore slump or not, the B’s are obviously hoping for bigger and better things after giving him a two-year deal with $2.5 million per year.
|10.31.11 at 1:26 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When a team is in dead last one month into the season, it’s generally obvious that change is needed, but what about when that team is just a few months removed from winning the Stanley Cup?
With the Bruins currently sitting in last place in all of the Eastern Conference and coming off three straight losses, there has been speculation regarding what moves can be made to improve the club. General manager Peter Chiarelli has reportedly been working the phones, and the possibility exists that the team could call up a player from Providence.
Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who led the team with 30 goals last season, said after Monday’s practice that he doesn’t feel change to the roster is needed.
“I think we’ve proven that this group works. If you look into it too much, you can almost go [crazy] if you read into it or look into it too much,” he said. “This group works, and the only way we’re going to start working again is if we start playing like a group again. I think that’s our biggest challenge right now.
“We need everyone going at the same time and everyone being on the same page and trusting the system, because when we’re going as a group and playing that system that we know how to play, we’ve obviously shown that we can be one of, if not the best, team in the league.”
The 3-7-0 Bruins will host the Senators Tuesday at TD Garden.
|10.31.11 at 11:09 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Benoit Pouliot was the first to take the ice Monday as the Bruins, coming off three straight losses and a rough home-and-home with the Habs, returned to practice at Ristuccia Arena. Pouliot was sick over the weekend and did not travel with the team to Montreal for Saturday’s game.
The lines appear to be the same as they were to begin Saturday’s game:
All seven defensemen were present.