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Bruins finally showing winning ‘character’ at right time 03.13.15 at 10:11 am ET
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The Bruins have finally hit their stride. And they couldn’t have picked a better time.

They’re even winning shootouts. After winning their first two shootouts of the season, they lost their next seven such contests, prompting their head coach to say shootouts “suck” and giving thanks they end with the regular season. Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning ended the skid and gave many inside the dressing room and organization reason to hope.

Their critics will point to the up and down play of key players like Dougie Hamilton, who, by his own admission, had an off night Thursday. The critics will say the Bruins, even during the four-game winning streak, haven’t displayed the consistent 60-minute-plus effort it takes to win in the playoffs.

But what the Bruins showed Thursday night was character and grit. No one showed it more than Gregory Campbell, who took a puck to his right eyebrow early in the first period, necessitating no fewer than eight stitches. It was nothing compared to Game 3 of the 2013 Eastern finals against Pittsburgh, when he gave up his lower right leg on an Evgeni Malkin slapshot. Later in the period, when he returned to the game, he was mashed into the corner boards but got up only a little worse for the wear.

“When you win, things look a lot better,” Campbell said. “There have been times when we’ve played some pretty good hockey and for whatever reason haven’t gotten points. Winning hockey games makes everything look better. We’ve gone the right direction and I think it’s been a process this year. Sometimes there’s not answers for everything. You have expectations coming into the year and for whatever reason, we had a slow start and it’s been well documented that we’ve stumbled a little bit along the way.

“But we’ve continued to try and improve our game, find solutions and stick together as a team. The important thing to us is not what’s happened but the way things are going. This is the important time of the year and we need wins and that’s reason to be optimistic for our team because when you play important games and get wins, that’s playoff-like hockey. That’s a positive we can build on with our team.”

Wins are wins and Thursday was the seventh straight time the Bruins took the ice and gained points. Boston has won four straight, 6-of-7 and 7-of-9 since their six-game skid that put their playoff position in serious peril. Now, the Bruins have 80 points, six points better than ninth-place Florida with 15 games left. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Patrice Bergeron, Tampa Bay Lightning
Daniel Paille uses ‘positive attitude’ to regain his mojo: ‘When they go in, it seems you can almost do anything’ 03.08.15 at 5:20 pm ET
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It’s hard to tell who’s more relieved at the turnaround of Daniel Paille. Both player and coach Claude Julien have to reason to be elated with the recent production of the fourth line left wing.

Since being benched for the final two games of the five-game road trip, Paille has been on fire. His two goals Sunday were the difference in a 5-3 win over the Red Wings at TD Garden. He has four goals in the six games since, including Sunday’s short-handed marker.

“Sometimes when you sit out you get to reflect on what you can do better,” Paille said after Sunday’s offensive display. “For me, I definitely kept a positive attitude about it. Like l’ve said before, Claude was great with me about it. Coming back, kind of a play like you’ve got nothing to lose. Just keep working. If you keep working, good things will come out of it, and so far, that’s what’s been going right now. So it’s a huge boost I guess.”

“I’€™m sure it helped him in a good way, not necessarily as a wake-up call, more than watching the game and missing it,” Julien added. “At the same time, I think there’€™s no doubt the trade deadline’€™s over, guys know they’€™re here, there’€™s a lot of players that have picked up their game I think since then. Whether it’€™s a combination of that or combination of where we are in the standings and wanting to make sure we get ourselves into a playoff spot and doing whatever it takes, could be a lot of different things. It’€™s nice to see a lot of those players really bring their game up a notch.”

Paille was the butt of many jokes about the Bruins’ lack of finish around the net. He’s had the last laugh since being re-inserted into the lineup. Paille went 36 games without a goal and scored in each of his first two games back. On Sunday, he matched that total in just three shots.

“When they go in, it seems that you can almost do anything, so a big part of the game is mental and sometimes they’€™re not going to go in and it’€™s just staying focused on the right things that we’€™re doing out there and for me of course it’€™s been a frustrating time for the most part of the season, but the main point is to stay with it and having the support through the whole team here is definitely a huge boost for all of us,” Paille said. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell
Peter Chiarelli explains why he decided to extend Torey Krug, Reilly Smith: ‘Gives us comfort’ 03.07.15 at 1:06 am ET
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For about 10 minutes Friday, after the team practice on TD Garden ice, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli attempted to explain why he committed nearly $11 million of salary and cap space for Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.

“Torey on one year at 3.4 million, Reilly three years at 3.425 [million],” Chiarelli said. “Obviously there’€™s the contract in the past – beginning of the year. These are players we always liked and have a bright future for us. Term was important. It’€™s shorter term and gives us more flexibility and it gives them more flexibility as far as performing on a short term platform and becoming more of a fixture of us going forward.

“The one and two year terms were important to us. These were deals that came about, the ideas and the philosophies came out a little bit more after we signed the one year deals. Later in the winter and early spring we started’€”not spring but January and February we talked more. They worked very hard to bring together and these are two good, young players and two good young people.”

And they’re good people who won’t have to endure the frustration of sitting out of camp this summer because the team didn’t have enough cap space to sign them to contracts. Both Krug and Smith recalled Friday that uncomfortable feeling. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, NHL, Peter Chiarelli, Reilly Smith
Milan Lucic insists Bruins are heading in right direction ‘if we can find that confidence’ 03.07.15 at 12:42 am ET
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Milan Lucic has faith that things will turn out fine for the Bruins in the final month of the season.

He made that much clear after the team’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Flames Thursday night. That game opened a stretch of 11 games in 18 days for the Bruins, who are holding on for dear life in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Saturday, the Bruins host the Flyers, one of four teams that still has designs on catching Boston. Florida, Ottawa and New Jersey are also hopeful of making a run.

The Bruins enter with 72 points while the Flyers are four points back. Saturday would be a good place for Lucic and the Bruins to start finding their scoring touch. The Bruins had numerous chances to put away the Flames Thursday night, only to allow Calgary to tie the game twice, take the lead early in the third period and win it in the shootout.

“I mean we had two three-on-ones in the third period and we didn’€™t even end up with a shot on net,” Lucic said. “It seems like that’€™s been our biggest challenge this season is having that killer instinct and finishing off plays. It cost us again tonight when we had opportunities to’€”when we had the lead to extend the lead and when we made it three, three we had chances to win the game and we don’€™t bear down and gave them a chance to win it in the shootout. It’€™s no secret, we have to do a better job of winning games in the shootout.”

“I don’€™t know like I said its just having the confidence of scoring especially in the shootout there. Like you said, there’€™s no shootout in the playoffs and we’€™ve been a pretty good overtime team this year but we can’€™t bank on that right now. We still have a ways to go until the playoffs start and we got to make sure we earn our spot. Earn our playoff spot.”

Barring a late-season surge, the Bruins would open the playoffs on the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Reilly Smith has some job security for now: ‘Hopefully I can stay with this organization a while’ 03.06.15 at 10:20 pm ET
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After the obvious of getting a big pay raise, the best part of the two-year contract extension for Reilly Smith might be job security.

The Bruins right wing, like teammate Torey Krug, had to sit out the start of camp last summer because the Bruins were over the cap temporarily and couldn’t afford to sign them to new contracts until there was some roster manipulation and flexibility.

But there won’t be such worries this summer or the next as Smith agreed to a two-year extension through the 2016-17 season worth $3.425 million each season.

“It seems like through this whole thing, it’s always been me and Torey slotted together in this whole negotiation process,” Smith said. “It’s good and bad. It’s nice having someone with you through the whole negotiation process, especially in the summer when you’re sitting out camp when neither of us wanted to be. But it’s just good to have it behind us.”

Krug’s deal is worth $3.4 million, but is only good through next season. Still, having the piece of mind knowing that he’ll be in camp next summer is worth it to Smith.

“It was definitely tough. It was on my mind for a while,” Smith said. “It was a pretty stressful time in the summer, having to sit out camp for a while. I’m glad I don’t have to do that the next couple of years.”

The 23-year-old Smith was part of the package from Dallas along with Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser for Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button before the 2013-14 season.

Smith, who has struggle to finish scoring chances all season like the rest of his teammates, doesn’t mind the pressure that comes with expectations. Smith, still only 23, has just 12 goals in 63 games this season. General manager Peter Chiarelli, during a Friday press conference to announce the signings, admitted Smith is being paid like a 20-goal scorer.

“I think I welcome it,” Smith said of the pressure factor. “There’s probably a little bit more pressure but as a hockey player and playing in this organization and at this level, you welcome that every day because people get better every day and just being able to cope with challenges and changes in this league, I think it’s something every player in this league dreams to be able to do. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Reilly Smith, Torey Krug,
Claude Julien says ‘lack of finish is probably the biggest concern right now’ 03.06.15 at 8:50 am ET
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It’s been the one thing that has haunted these Bruins all season.

They can’t find a way to finish scoring opportunities in and around the net and wind up regretting it at the end of the game. Such was the case again Thursday night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames. There were several chances for the Bruins to put some distance between themselves and Calgary in the early and middle parts of the game and they simply couldn’t find the finishing touch.

There was Daniel Paille with a wrister on Flames goalie Karri Ramo midway through the first period. There was a slap shot from Dougie Hamilton that was deflected away by a stick at the last moment. But there was no better example of Boston’s inability to find the scoring touch than when Loui Eriksson, on a 3-on-1 rush, had the puck on his stick and fired wide of an empty net midway through the third period.

Carl Soderberg, without a goal since Jan. 17 against Columbus, has now gone 17 games without a goal. He had two chances in the opening period and couldn’t find the back of the net.

“Again, the challenge of our lack of finish is probably the biggest concern right now,” coach Claude Julien said. “So I think we had the better of the game, five-on-five. There’€™s no doubt we played a lot more in their end then they did in ours.

“It’€™s a little bit of maybe confidence, and you squeeze your stick you’€™re trying so hard. There’€™s a lot of guys, use Carl Soderberg as an example. He’€™s really struggled the last little while scoring goals, and guys are putting pressure on themselves. There’€™s games where you like your team’€™s game, but your finish is what ends up killing you at the end.”

Julien realizes that the Bruins had chances leading 1-0 and 2-1 to really do damage and failed to seize on the opportunity because they simply couldn’t finish.
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Carl Soderberg, Claude Julien
Zdeno Chara: ‘We need to turn this thing around really quickly’ 02.11.15 at 10:41 am ET
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The urgency was clearly marked in the first words Zdeno Chara spoke after the Bruins dropped a 5-3 decision to a Dallas Stars team not currently in the Western Conference playoff field.

“It was just a terrible effort,” the Bruins captain said. “It is something we need to get right and we don’€™t have much time. We need to turn this thing around really quickly. It is unacceptable to be getting scored on twice in one game [shorthanded] obviously in a crucial part of the game. We need to be better.”

After winning eight of their final 10 games in January to creep up within four points of first place Montreal in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins have suddenly stumbled in February. They have lost three of four to open the month, and the one game they won (against the Islanders) they admittedly were fortunate to come out on top. They now lead the Florida Panthers by just four points (63-59) for the second and final wild card playoff spot in the East.

How does Chara explain bad habits creeping back in?

“It is something that we have sort it out,” Chara said. “We know that we have been better the last little while but again the last two, three games again, we started to have mental breakdowns and started drifting away from the game plan. That is something we can’€™t go back to again.

“I think it is a combination of maybe a number of things like you said. It is hard to really point at one thing. We know that when we play a certain way we are pretty effective and when we are not we start doing something different and that is how we get into trouble. A lot of times we need better effort, we need better urgency, we need better mental focus. It is just a combination of all of those things.”

Now the Bruins have to find their way through a five-game trip that begins Friday night in Vancouver, and includes trips to Calgary, Edmonton, St. Louis and Chicago.

“It is disappointing. We know that it was our last game for a while at home and now we have a long road trip and for sure we wanted to finish with a way better effort and result than we did. So for sure that is disappointing.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Zdeno Chara,
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