|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’||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.
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: If available, T.J. Oshie would be ‘excellent acquisition’ for Bruins||12.18.14 at 1:53 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB following Wednesday’s Wild-Bruins game and to talk about some recent trade rumors surrounding the Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
One of those names rumored of late has been Blues right wing T.J. Oshie. During the first intermission on the NBC Sports broadcast last night Bob McKenzie mentioned Oshie being available. McGuire hadn’t heard such things, but said it would be a good fit for the Bruins if he was indeed made available.
“I did not know that he was available because I think that he is a very respected member of the St. Louis Blues organization,” said McGuire. “I didn’t know he was available and he may not be. It may be people talking. Bobby McKenzie when talks, he’s usually [right on mark]. It may be someone that Bobby knows and some of us don’t know. I would tell you that T.J. is a very, very good player who I think would be a very good Bruin, if and I stress this is a huge if because I know people like to listen and twist words. If available and the Bruins could get him, that would be an excellent acquisition. I will say this, I do not know that he is available.”
McGuire was in between the benches for the NBC Sports broadcast so had the best view of the game. He saw a lot of positive things from the Bruins, as they won for the first time in four games Wednesday night with a 3-2 overtime win in Minnesota.
“I was really impressed with a few things from the Bruins,” he said. “Number one, Zdeno Chara‘s vocal leadership on the bench — usually not very vocal — but when he is people usually listen. Last night he was very vocal, especially at the end of certain situations whether it was a penalty kill, a good chip in or a good line change. He was extremely vocal and a good leader. The return of David Krejci, you see the skill level and how it makes everyone around him better, but what it also does is it changes the batting order. Now [Patrice] Bergeron is not the No. 1, he’s No. 2. [Carl] Soderberg is not the No. 2, he’s the No. 3, Gregory Campbell‘s minutes are kind of dropping down and that allows he and Danny Paille to penalty kill a little bit better. That changes everything. I was really impressed that they hung in there because that 5-on-3 penalty kill I thought was the key to the game last night.”
|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 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.”
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins being referred to as ‘sleeping giants in the league’||12.04.14 at 1:42 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB prior to the Bruins’ game against the Sharks Thursday night, as well as to discuss the recent struggles of the team. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Despite losing four of their last five games, including two straight on the West Coast, McGuire doesn’t feel like it is time to panic for the Bruins, especially with so many of their players out of the lineup with injuries. He was in Minnesota interviewing some Wild players earlier in the day, and they have a different thought of the struggling Bruins than many in Boston.
“It’s amazing how they perceive the Bruins compared to some of the people in Boston,” said McGuire. “They perceive the Bruins as a contender for the Cup. They know they are playing them in about 10 days, on the [17th] of December. That is one of the things they were talking about — one of the sleeping giants in the league right now is Boston. A lot of it is injury driven.”
Goal scoring has been an issue for the Bruins of late — scoring just six goals in their last five games. But, again, this is because of the injuries they are dealing with.
“It’s injury related,” McGuire said. “I did the St. Louis Blues-Chicago Blackhawks game last night. Everyone in the west is talking about those same things, and those are two of the upper-echelon teams in the west. When you have tiny injuries in the west you’re in trouble, when you have massive amounts of injuries you’re in huge trouble. Part of the problem for Boston more than anything else is they are going against real good teams. They are out west and they don’t have 100 percent of their lineup. I wouldn’t panic too much, this is part of the peaks and valleys that happen over the course of the course of an 82-game schedule.”