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Milan Lucic: With fans ‘calling for blood,’ players must execute

12.21.10 at 1:23 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins, losers of four of their last five games, find themselves searching for answers as they try to find a balance of both consistency and emotion. After Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Ducks showcased a glaringly lethargic team, the B’s find themselves in an unflattering light around town. Fans are questioning coach Claude Julien, while the lack of a full team effort has resulted in expected media scrutiny. Amidst all the negativity, forward Milan Lucic said the guys on the ice are the ones who ultimately have to produce if they want to right the ship.

“Everyone’s calling for blood, the media’s writing negative stuff about us, but we’ve got to have each other’s back and stick up for one another, and it’s all going to start from in here,” Lucic told WEEI.com Tuesday. “It’s got to be a team effort where all 20 guys are committed to putting in the work.”

Lucic said the team is aware of their struggles and that the effort is there to get the team in the right frame of mind come game time, but that there comes a point at which trying isn’t good enough.

“We try to do things to rally one another and pump each other up before the game. We’re saying the right things, it’s just a matter of going out there and doing them. That’s the main thing right now. Talk is cheap. You’ve got to go out there and do it.”

The 22-year-old leads the Bruins with 16 goals this season, but with the team struggling as badly as it has been, each of the top three lines saw major shakeups. Lucic, who had played with Nathan Horton and either David Krejci or Patrice Bergeron all season, will now skate with Horton and Marc Savard.

“I’ve played with Savvy before, and Savvy’s obviously excited to play with Horton for the first time here,” Lucic said, while adding that “we’ll see what happens next game.”

“Hopefully we can create some chances and get some results.”

The Bruins need the latter more than anything right now.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton,

Bruins shake lines up following ugly loss

12.21.10 at 11:34 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Nobody could have been happy following the B’s 3-0 loss to the Ducks on Monday, and Claude Julien responded by shaking up the offensive lines in practice on Tuesday. Brad Marchand remains out, so the lines were as follows:

Lucic – Savard – Horton

Recchi  – Bergeron – Seguin

Wheeler – Krejci – Ryder

Paille – Campbell – Thornton

A couple of quick thoughts to consider:

– Looks like that generation-spanning line might finally get some serious time. The Recchi – Bergeron – Seguin line looked good in training camp but has never been a fixture in the regular season.

Nathan Horton finally gets Marc Savard to set him up. This could mean improved offensive production, but Horton’s entire game needs a shot of energy.

– There was a bit a brief exchange between Savard and Bergeron at one point in the skate, with the two exchanging cross-checks. It didn’t seem serious or something that lasted throughout the practice, but it’s good to see some fire from a squad that’s been lethargic.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin,

Recchi: ‘We have to win Thursday’

12.21.10 at 11:17 am ET
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Mark Recchi was a guest on the Dennis and Callahan show on Tuesday, the morning after his club was blanked 3-0 by the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. The Bruins were booed by the home crowd throughout the contest and head coach Claude Julien admitted after the game that he was “really disappointed” by the effort his team, who have won just once in its last five games.

Recchi was asked about the loss and the lackluster play of the Bruins of late.

“You can’t have those games,” said Recchi of Monday night’s performance. “We know it’s 82 games, but the compete level has to be there every night. It’s something we as a group have to address and keep getting better at. We know it’s 32 games in and we still have an opportunity in the next couple of weeks to jump into first place and in our division. But we can’t seem to make that jump right now and that’s something that’s going to be very important in the next little while. We have a really tough stretch coming up. We have to win Thursday.”

When asked why he considered a December game against the Atlanta Thrashers a must win, Recchi pointed to the schedule.

“We go on the road for five games [after the home game vs. Atlanta] and it’s not an easy road trip,” said Recchi. “Lot of travel, so yeah it is [a must win]. But we’ve been pretty good on the road, and sometimes it can bring you together ‘€¦ but Thursday it a must win for us right now.”

Claude Julien has been a target for fans and some in the media, who wonder if a coaching change would help shake off the recent doldrums for the Bruins. Recchi was asked if that was the solution or if it was more a matter of the players stepping up.

“Well it’s up to us, to the players,” said Recchi. “This [the recent play] is something we have to address. Obviously there are some things that coaches can do. Claude’s a very good coach and there are certain things that he has to address and we as players support him. And that’s what is going to go on for the next couple of days. There’s some concern, absolutely, but it’s something that can be fixed. We’ve shown that in stretches that we can be a formidable team to play, but it has to be every night.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Mark Recchi,

Marc Savard knows there’s nothing worse than being stale during the holidays

12.21.10 at 10:44 am ET
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It was supposed to be a festive night, featuring Rene Rancournaments handed out to 10,000 fans, the Bruins wearing their white home jerseys and the Bruins and Ducks on national TV.

Instead, it turnout out to be one big dud, filled with nothing for Boston hockey fans except the proverbial lump of coal in their stockings – and stale coal at that – which could never light a fire under the Bruins.

The Bruins got 45 shots on Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller but none of them found the back of the net. The Bruins were done in by the Jonas smother.

“You can say we had forty-something shots, but a lot of them were one shot and out,” B’s center Marc Savard said. “We’€™ve got to dig down. I think the intensity level was lacking tonight on a lot of us and coach switched the lines there for the third. We seemed to have some more jump a bit, just to try and get some energy on the team because like I said, we were getting stale there a little bit.

“We created chances, but bottom line is that you’€™ve got to come to the rink and want results and I think, including myself, I’€™m probably top of the list right now I’€™m not getting any and then therefore, that’€™s not helping the team at all. So we’€™ve all got to look in the mirrors here. We’€™ve got one more before Christmas, it’s huge, and we need it.”

While their coach was ripping them moments later, Savard acknowledged that Claude Julien can’t do much more screaming at them.

“Claude is trying,” Savard added. “I mean, he can’€™t yell at us every single night. It gets long on him too, so it comes with the guys in the room here to pick up the slack and right now, that’€™s what we’€™ve got to do. Like I said, this one more before Christmas here, we’€™ve got to have a huge effort.”

Savard agreed with Mark Recchi, who told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning that Thursday’s home finale before Christmas has turned into a must-win for the fragile psyche of the team.

Savard said he has no answers right now but knows they better appear Thursday against Atlanta.

“Well, yeah, I mean, I don’€™t have the answer for it,” Savard said. We’€™ve all just got to be that much more intense. Like I said, this one before Christmas is huge. We need it.”

Many people have been wondering about the near-term fate of Julien. But just as many – if not more – have wondered if the lineup and roster need a shake-up.

“No, I don’€™t think the lineup needs a shakeup,” Savard said. “We’€™ve got a good hockey club. We’€™ve just got to get it going here and work together as a unit and we’€™ll be fine. Our goalies are battling for us every night back there and we’€™ve just got to give them some support.”

Read More: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Marc Savard

Claude Julien shows the desire he wishes he’d get from his team

12.20.10 at 11:19 pm ET
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Claude Julien had seen enough.

There was the back-to-back losses last week in Buffalo and Montreal. There was Saturday night when he watched his team get outshot on home ice, 38-10, after taking a 3-0 lead over Washington, barely holding on for a 3-2 win.

The Bruins were outshot by an amazing 26-2 in the third period and it was clear from Julien’s tone Saturday night that he felt his team was fortunate – if not lucky – to win. On Monday, there was no such luck. The Bruins fell behind 2-0 before having a breakdown on the power play in front of Tim Thomas, allowing a short-handed goal that all but cooked their goose in a 3-0 loss to the Ducks at TD Garden. Julien needed to let loose and let his team have the what-for.

“Our compete level needed to be better,” Julien began. “I’m disappointed. I’m really disappointed in our effort tonight and it’s not something we should be proud of and we should be willing to try to redeem ourselves next game and find some more emotion and more intensity in our game.”

That next game is the game before Christmas, Thursday night at home against Atlanta. In the meantime, there’ll be a pair of practices which should test the quality of the practice ice in Wilmington.

Julien said while it was good that his team put 45 shots on Jonas Hiller, he said his players “need to bury those chances.”

Julien even used a classic hockey expression to express his displeasure of the lack of desire from his team, particularly his forwards.

“It’s starts with the forecheck,” Julien said. “We had a lot of guys playing at the end of of their sticks. When you’re trying to move up five spots [in the standings], that’s unacceptable.”

The Bruins coach said he’s noticed a lack of emotion and energy in his team in the last week.

“Through the course of the season, certain things will creep into your game,” Julien said. “And that’s crept into our game and we’ve got to get rid of that. We have to get that emotion again, give yourself a chance to win. And we didn’t do that tonight.”

The Bruins entered the game with the same number of points (38) as their opponent but it wasn’t the Ducks they were chasing in the standings. With a win, the Bruins could have jumped from eight in the conference to tied for third, as they would have 40 points, matching the Canadiens.

“We had all the reasons in the world to want to compete tonight, an opportunity to move up five spots [in Eastern Conference] and we didn’t have enough guys going tonight, there’s no doubt there,” Julien said.

Read More: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Montreal Canadiens

Ornaments the bright spot as Bruins lose

12.20.10 at 10:00 pm ET
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The Garden was loud as ever to begin Rancournament night on Monday, but the fans likely weren’t a promotional giveaway to be the only positive of their experience. That’s what they got, as the B’s rode a lackluster performance to a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Ducks.

The Ducks got goals from Brandon McMillan, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Corey Perry, while the Bruins struggled mightily against Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller.

With the Bruins getting plenty of pucks to the net but failing to bury them, Claude Julien changed up the lines in the third period. He pulled Nathan Horton off the top line and replaced him with Blake Wheeler. Tyler Seguin took Wheeler’s spot on Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi’s line, while Horton moved to the Marc Savard and Michael Ryder’s line.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins didn’t have a power play in Saturday’s game against the Capitals, and given the way things transpired on Monday, it seems they would rather go another night without the man advantage. The B’s failed to convert, while they allowed their third shorthanded goal of the season. Luckily for them they’re still far behind Tampa Bay in the undesirable category, as the Lightning have allowed a whopping seven shorthanded tallies this season.

– As much as all these 40-plus-shots-against games have helped Tim Thomas‘ league-leading save percentage, his performance worked against that on Monday, as he allowed had allowed three goals on 15 shots by the end of the second period. Thomas ended up facing 24 shots on the night.

– For just the second time this season, Milan Lucic is without a point in two straight games. His only other such stretch occurred when he failed to register a point on Nov. 20 and 22 against the Kings and Lightning, respectively.

– As poorly as the Bruins played overall, they weren’t helped by the fact that Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller was very good in net for the Ducks. The B’s got a respect a season-high 45 shots on net, but Hiller was equally sharp on all of them, challenging or otherwise.

Hiller had perhaps the save of the night when he robbed Tyler Seguin in the slot at 12:10 of the third period. He came up with another big stop on a Mark Recchi shot at 16:57.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins seemingly don’t have to worry about the health of Steven Kampfer. The rookie blue-liner took a shove from Teemu Selanne in the second period that helped him go headfirst into the boards in a scene slightly resembling Jody Shelley’s hit on Adam McQuaid.

The difference between the two plays was that Selanne gave more of a light shove and didn’t seem malicious, while Shelley used two hands to push McQuaid. Kampfer was helped off the ice by trainer Don Delnegro and returned to the ice later in the period. Selanne was given a minor for boarding.

– Patrice Bergeron, despite being a minus-1, continued to be one of the better players on the ice. Of course, given the team’s slow and sloppy showing, there weren’t many candidates for that distinction. Bergeron single-handedly prevented the Ducks from scoring a shorthanded goal on B’s first power play when he swept a puck out of the crease as it was about to cross the goal line after making its way past Thomas.

Ducks increase lead to 3-0 in second period

12.20.10 at 9:08 pm ET
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The Bruins have some recent experience with nearly blowing a three-goal lead. Now, they’ll have to see if they can come back from one as they trail the Ducks, 3-0, after two.

After Lubomir Visnovsky make it 2-0 by beating Tim Thomas from the hashmark of the right circle, the Corey Perry scored his 17th goal of the season, a shorthanded tally at 15:05.

Tim Thomas has allowed the three Ducks goals on just 15 shots, while Jonas Hiller has been an absolute wall on the other end.

The Bruins were 0-for-2 on the power play in the period, the first of which came when Teemu Selanne went off for boarding after he gave Steve Kampfer a soft shove that led the B’s defenseman headfirst into the boards. The play did not seem malicious and Kampfer, after being helped off by Don Delnegro, returned to the ice.

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