|For Zdeno Chara, B’s ‘not there yet’ but moving in right direction||01.09.15 at 11:05 am ET|
As Claude Julien suggested after Thursday’s 3-0 victory over the Devils, the Bruins are still not the team they need to be but the ship is at least sailing in calmer waters after a second straight win.
The captain agrees.
Zdeno Chara was on the ice for one of the biggest moments of the game, setting up a screen in front on Milan Lucic‘s power play goal late in the first period as the Bruins finally capitalized on the chances the Devils were giving Boston in the opening 20 minutes.
“We made another step forward,” Chara said. “We’re not there yet we just got to continue to work really hard and stay on top of our game.”
For as rough as the Bruins have looked, Thursday’s win improves them to 21-15-6, good for 48 points and the eighth and final playoff spot in the East (as the second wild card). But step back and the players can see they’re only six points behind first-place Montreal in the Northeast. All is not lost. But after two straight wins, Chara isn’t focused so much on the standings as the method at this point, halfway through the season.
“It’s nice that you’re winning games now [but] we are not over the hump, we know that,” Chara said. “We won two games and we have a tough schedule before the All-Star break. We want to continue to play the way we’ve been playing the last two games and finish strong before the break. You can sense that the team is regaining the play and what we’re used to so, like I said, we have to stay on top of that.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien finally likes what he sees in his ‘focused, energized’ Bruins||01.09.15 at 9:51 am ET|
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
That’s what he saw Thursday night in a 3-0 win over the hapless Devils at TD Garden.
“I think we seemed like a real focused and energized team tonight,” said Julien, who watched as his team outshot New Jersey by a stunning 43-14 margin. “I think the biggest thing we did was we executed the way we were asked to execute and I thought coming in late last night – the first period it was so important to get our legs under us and put pucks in behind him in and get our feet moving and get a good forecheck. But what impressed me the most tonight was how hard the guys worked to get back and the layers were there, so we didn’t give them much room or too many opportunities.”
As DJ Bean points out, Thursday might be a sign that the team is finally embracing the Julien message. Wednesday and Thursday marked the first back-to-back wins since before Christmas and come after the Bruins lost three straight one-goal games.
“So that was the kind of game we like to see our team play,” Julien said. “So, you want to build on that kind of stuff. Again, you never consider yourself out of the woods, but certainly something that’s real positive to build on.”
The one man in the locker room all season the Bruins have been waiting on to pick it up is Milan Lucic. His power play goal at the end of the first period picked up every single player in black and gold and gave the team a lift it desperately needed after outplaying, outshooting and outworking the Devils.
But what really stuck out to Julien was how his team responded to adversity of its own making, namely looking disorganized and impotent on a 5-on-3 power play.
“Well, what impressed me again, a lot about that. Obviously our five-on-three wasn’t great, and you know, there’s times where your team could have just fallen apart or lost its momentum ‘ we came back the next shift and we kept going and we never lost the pace of our game.
“So, that was important for us. And then again that power play goal at the end of the second, just kind of justified, I guess, the period that we were having. At least coming into the dressing room with the lead, it would have been disappointing had it not been that way. But our guys had a good first and we stayed with our game and got rewarded there at the end of the first.”
The other aspect of Thursday’s game that encouraged Julien was how the team picked up the slack for Loui Eriksson, unavailable after injuring his hand the night before in Pittsburgh. Leading the way there was Mr. Reliable Chris Kelly, creating a turnover that led to Carl Soderberg’s goal making it 2-0 in the second.
“He did a great job on that forecheck, forcing the guy to turn the puck over and Carl ‘ who had also a real good game, scored a big goal for us,” Julien said of Kelly. “But Kells is always going to be Kells. He’s not flashy and sometimes underrated by a lot of people, but we know how important he is and some of the things he does. The team needs a little bit of everything, and he’s not in the goal department, but he’s certainly in the other department that gives us a real good identity defensively.
“I think again our forecheck ‘ we talked about how important our forecheck had to be and that was one of the things that we looked at for our own team before looking at New Jersey. And our forecheck had to be better in order to spend more time and not let teams come out so easily.”
|Team meeting spurs David Krejci, Bruins to pick up slack for Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron||12.30.14 at 8:06 am ET|
Earlier in the year, it was up to Bergeron and Lucic to pick up the slack for Krejci and Zdeno Chara when they were out with injuries. This time around it was Krejci and Brad Marchand who led an offensive attack that generated five goals on 45 shots against the Red Wings, and the result was a desperately needed 5-2 win at TD Garden Monday night.
From the first puck-drop, the Bruins were skating hard in all three zones, mucking up the area in front of Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. Krejci’s best move of the night came on the power play in the third period after the Wings had cut the lead to 3-2 after two.
The center skated into the left offensive corner with the puck and gave Seth Griffith enough time to find an open area in a triangle of three penalty-killing Wings. Krejci delivered a short, crisp pass onto Griffith’s stick and Griffith snapped off a perfect shot that beat Howard for a 4-2 lead.
“We just shot everything on the net,” Krejci said. “We tried to crash the net. That’s what happened on the first goal. [Marchand] had a good screen. I thought we had more than 15 shots after the first period. We talk about it, just put the puck on net, create some traffic and don’t pass on any shooting opportunities. We did a pretty good job at it.”
The big question is why the Bruins, with or without their top players, haven’t played like that more often.
“That’s a good question, but obviously we are trying,” Krejci said. “We kind of talked about a bunch of things [Sunday] and it seems like it worked but like I said before, we did it before and followed up with a bad game. We don’t need to have talks like we did before this game and just go out there and realize what you’re playing for and we got to get back in the hunt. It was a good game today, but we have to follow up with another one.”
|Zdeno Chara knows win shows how Bruins have to play ‘pretty much for the rest of the season’||12.30.14 at 7:48 am ET|
The Bruins put themselves in this position. Now, they have to get themselves out of it.
But the good news, according to captain Zdeno Chara, is that Monday’s 5-2 win over the Red Wings proves they have it in them.
“Yeah, that was a great example of how we have to play, pretty much for the rest of the season it’s pretty simple,” Chara said. “We had the right attitude and right approach right from the first drop of the puck. Even they put some pressure on us, especially in the second [period] when they got some power plays going, but I thought we handled it well.
“Our young guys really stepped up, our veteran guys were obviously leading the way but I think it’s a great example of how we need to be. Everybody worked really hard, everybody was doing what they were supposed to do and we got good results.”
The Bruins, who entered the game with 39 points and in 10th place in the East, fired 45 shots on Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings defense that came in allowing the fewest shots on goal of any team in the NHL.
|Tuukka Rask admits Bruins’ true grit ‘has been lacking’ for most of the season so far||12.12.14 at 12:45 pm ET|
For many who have watched the Bruins this season, a common criticism has been that they don’t seem fully engaged or motivated this season.
Tuukka Rask has seen the same thing. But after a 3-2 loss to the red-hot Blackhawks, Rask insisted the Bruins are headed in the right direction.
“We played a pretty good game,” Rask said, trying to find a silver lining after watching his teammates drop their sixth game in eight tries. “Tough couple bounces there, the first two goals. We fall behind 2-0 and we battled back and made it a game. When you’re winning games, things go your way and when you’re not really in the groove like we aren’t really, it’s tough to find it. We are just going to keep battling and good things are going to happen.”
Chris Kelly has been engaged and is one of the Bruins trying to provide a spark. His third period bout with Andrew Shaw came after Milan Lucic was shoved to the ice after feeding Torey Krug for a goal to make it 3-2. Rask was asked if he sees feistiness and grit returning to the team.
“I think it has been lacking for the most part this season,” Rask said. “The last game in Phoenix, we put emphasis on that, really battling for every puck and really being hard to play against. We did that and then [Thursday] we did the same thing and when two teams are doing that, emotions flare and sometimes there are fights. It’s a good sign that we do that.”
“It all comes from hard work and never quitting and that’s what we have been doing in practices and in the past couple games and as long as we keep doing that I think good things are going to happen for us and we are going to start winning hockey games and everybody can be smiling.”
All of the talk about true grit and character won’t mean much if the Bruins don’t start soon translating that into wins, especially against the best teams in the league, like Chicago.
“We have been able to play against the best for sure. [We’re] not necessarily getting all the results we wanted but at the end of the day it’s all about winning and we have to find a way to win these games,” Rask added.
“I mean if you look at the effort and you look at the plays we made, for the most part it was our style of hockey. I thought a lot of times we were the better team out there. So I guess you can take the positive but from a goalie standpoint, two deflections off of your own sticks and it obviously sucks. We just have to keep working and find ways to get those bounces our way, not against us.”
|Dennis Seidenberg insists, ‘I pride myself on being a clean player’||12.12.14 at 12:45 am ET|
Dennis Seidenberg knew his hit on Jonathan Toews looked bad the moment it happened in the second period, as the Bruins were trying to kill off the final minute of consecutive penalties that put the Bruins in penalty kill mode.
But the strong, hulking defenseman made a point after the game that he meant no harm and certainly didn’t intend to put Toews out of of commission for the rest of the game. For the record, 49 seconds after getting hit by Seidenberg, Toews was actually on the ice, getting called for hooking Chris Kelly.
But after serving his hooking penalty, Toews went to the Chicago dressing room and did not return.
After the game, Seidenberg insisted he meant no harm toward Chicago’s star center.
“I pride myself on being a clean player and a hard player to play against, so when I went in on that one-on-one battle there, I thought I saw his right shoulder and at the last second he might have turned, I don’t know,” Seidenberg said. “I didn’t really see the replay or anything and obviously I never want to see a guy go into the boards like that.
“I would never want to hurt a guy,” he added. “That’s the last thing on my mind. I like playing hard and winning my board battles and that’s about it.”
|Claude Julien suggests Jonathan Toews shoulders some responsibility for his own injury||12.11.14 at 11:47 pm ET|
But he also feels Toews and others should be taught better how to handle themselves when they are approaching the boards. In short, Julien suggested that Toews shoulders some responsibility for the violent collision with the boards that resulted in him missing the entire third period.
“I’ve been saying that for a long time, we need to educate our players to protect themselves better,” Julien said. “We keep turning our backs, we keep trying to curl away.”
Then Julien came to the defense of his defenseman, who picked up a two-minute boarding penalty.
“A player’s job is to finish his check and a player should know he’s going to be hit,” Julien added. “It’s not about tonight, it’s about the whole league. I’m one of those guys who has put a lot of pressure on people who look at those kind of things and say, ‘It’s OK to take away those hits from hits from behind when they’re warranted. But what about the other guy? Does he not have a responsibility?'”
Julien brought up another big hit just two nights ago in Minnesota for some added perspective. Midway through the second period of the Wild’s 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders, Minnesota’s Keith Ballard and the Islanders’ Matt Martin were involved in a scary incident along the boards.
As Ballard dumped the puck in from center ice, Martin hit him, but not before the Wild defenseman turned his body toward the boards. Ballard’s head ended up hitting the dasher, as well as the ice. Martin, unlike Seidenberg, was not given a penalty on the play, as it appeared Ballard turned his back to Martin at the last moment before Martin’s hit.
“I looked at the Ballard hit, or the hit on Ballard from Martin,” Julien said. “So, Martin didn’t get a penalty on that and I think Ballard saw him coming and he turned and the consequences aren’t what you want to see from a player being hit like him. Certainly don’t like seeing those kinds of things, but this is where it’s important to take care of ourselves.
“So, I view that five-on-three we’re going to close a gap quickly and Dennis is a strong individual. So, is he supposed to get weak because of that situation? Or he just plays to his strength. Again, I wasn’t happy. I looked at it, and it could be arguable, but from my end of it I think it’s what it is. Our guys need to finish their checks and sure, you’ve got to be careful, but I’m sure he knew that he was coming.”
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