|Re-examining Nov. 1 and the uphill climb the Bruins face||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.
|Claude Julien doesn’t put all the blame on refs, says B’s are frustrated||10.18.11 at 10:41 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien, who was given a game misconduct in the third period of the B’s 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes Tuesday, said afterwards that he was unsure of why he was tossed from the game.
“I wish I knew,” Julien said. “I really wish I knew. I guess when they announced the misconduct to Lucic, I just shook my head. I guess that was merit for being kicked out. That’s all I can come up with.”
The Bruins were assessed 82 penalty minutes minutes, and though Julien seemed upset with his own penalty, he did not blame the officiating for the result of the contest, which dropped the Bruins to 2-4-0 on the season.
“We have to take responsibility for our own actions here. ‘¦ I think what I saw from tonight is we started off the game well. In the first period we had some great chances, but we’re not capitalizing,” he said. “What I see is frustration setting in, and the minute we start getting frustrated, we lose focus of our game, and it gets worse and worse. That’s been a bit of a pattern this year.”
Julien’s lone criticism of the referees regarded Zdeno Chara’s third-period high-sticking call, with the Bruins’ coach accusing Hurricanes forward Eric Staal of diving.
“I’m not saying all the penalties were good calls,” Julien said. “I really was disappointed on the one on Zdeno, trying to hold his own ice, and for some reason he gets called because the other guy embellishes. That was one that was clear in my eyes that I would question, or not agree with, but the rest, they were calls and you have to take responsibility of your own actions.”
|Milan Lucic agrees with Claude Julien: B’s took the game ‘way too lightly’||10.10.11 at 4:57 pm ET|
It was pretty apparent, even before Claude Julien called out his team before reporters in a post-game press conference, that the Bruins were fairly disgusted with their performance in a 1-0 loss to the Avalanche that wasted a brilliant performance by Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins managed 30 shots on Semyon Varlamov, but not enough sustained pressure. When they got great chances, including Lucic with just under six minutes to go in the game, they couldn’t finish.
“Well, they played well, you have to give them credit,” Lucic said. “But on our part, we took today’s game way too lightly. We lost most of the battles, they were first on pucks. Regardless of if we were the champs last year or not, the major areas on the ice, they wanted the puck more than us. And that’s why we weren’t able to generate enough to get that goal.
“We created some pretty good chances, just have to find a way to bear down on them.”
In their losses to the Flyers and Avalanche, the Bruins could not do two basic things essential to winning hockey and their Cup run of last spring: Control the puck and win physical battles.
“Yeah, it seemed like we were chasing a lot and they were just chipping past us and going,” Lucic said. “And we were a step late, a second late here a step late, a second late over there. And that’s basically what happens. I talked about being first to the puck and winning battles and we didn’t have enough of that. Good for four periods and need to work on the rest.”
|Tim Thomas gets ‘first win out of the way’ and looks great doing it||10.08.11 at 11:23 pm ET|
No it wasn’t a shutout for Tim Thomas on Saturday night but in stopping 25 of 26 shots from the Lightning, he certainly showed he has the capability of replicating his historic year of a season ago.
Thomas made all the big saves, especially when the game was in doubt helping the Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Lightning team they edged in seven hard-fought games in last spring’s Eastern finals. And it served as a nice bounce back after dropping the season-opener on Thursday to the Flyers.
“You get the first win out of the way so kind of get the monkey off of our backs to get the season back in the direction we wanted to be going,” Thomas said.
“I felt just as comfortable the first night. Both teams we played during the playoffs so semi-familiar, even though there’s some new faces on both teams. Both general systems are the same and I felt comfortable right off the bat the other night and I felt good tonight. But the team had a good game in front of me tonight. We put a lot of shots on goal, found ways to get pucks in the net with a great penalty kill. A lot of good efforts out there all over the place.”
To Claude Julien, the performance of his goalie was solid when the game called for it and spectacular when needed.
“To me, Timmy looked more like the Timmy we know,” Julien said. “He looked calm, and he looked comfortable in net, and he made things look pretty easy. Even on the big saves, he was challenging well. To me, that’s as close to last year as I’ve seen Timmy. He certainly played a solid game for us.”
But, without question, the save he made on Teddy Purcell from the low slot on a one-timer was the save of the game. The Bruins were leading 2-1 early in the third when Purcell had a clean look and appeared to have an open side to Thomas’ right. Thomas slid over before falling to the ice and making the big save just 1:44 into the third.
“The [puck] was passed through the slot and whoever it was did a good job of tipping it over to Purcell,” Thomas said. “So, I was actually originally just on the first pass and I had to scramble to get over to the second pass, which is why I sort of made the save while I was falling down.”
Just over a minute later, David Krejci scored at the other end. Bruins up, 3-1. Game, set, match.
“I think any goaltender, in those key situations, that makes those kinds of saves is certainly going to give your team a boost, and Tim has done that for us on numerous occasions throughout his time here,” Julien said. “I’m not saying we’re used to it but we like it.”
“I’m not thinking of one big save,” Thomas said. “I’m thinking I have to make some saves, basically, [because] you never want to give the other team a sniff. We’ve learned our lessons over the years. I remember a game where we were up three goals with three minutes left against St. Louis and they tied it up and won in overtime. So, that was quite a few years ago now but that happened to us last year a few times where teams came back on us late. You’ve got to play the full 60 minutes That’s what we learned last year.”
And last year turned out pretty well thanks, in large part to Thomas and the lessons learned.
|Claude Julien knows it’s time to put champagne bottles down||10.07.11 at 2:02 pm ET|
Now, Claude Julien can simply get back to coaching his team and getting them ready for a regular season Saturday night game in October.
He – and every Bruins player – admitted following Thursday night’s 2-1 loss to the Flyers that the season-opener was anything but regular or ordinary.
Now, with Steven Stamkos and the Lightning coming to town for a battle Saturday at TD Garden, it’s time to treat the game like 1-of-82.
“We’re basically all looking forward to it,” Julien said. “As you know, if you go to a party and you stay until four or for two, three days, after a while, you get tired of it, right? The bottles of champagne are empty, so it’s time to go home. I think that’s how we feel right now. We’ve had a great time with it this summer, we’ve had some great experiences, but right now, we basically would like to re-do this, and we know there’s a lot of work and a lot of things that have to come into play before that happens. We need to turn the page.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Hangover? It’s only a movie to the Bruins as they’re ready to defend title||10.04.11 at 5:59 pm ET|
As the players spoke one after another at media day Tuesday, they all sounded like they knew it was coming. How are the Bruins going to deal with wearing the crown in 2011?
Some teams have handled it very well, like the 2009 Red Wings, who made it back to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals the next year before losing to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on home ice. Some others have had a lot more difficulty. The 2010 Cup champs – the Blackhawks – had to back in to the playoffs last year on the last day when the Stars lost to Minnesota.
The Blackhawks seemed doomed in the first round before battling back from 3-0 down, only to lose in OT in Game 7 to Vancouver. Those close to the team publicly expressed a fatigue in the first two months of the season as the Blackhawks tried to get their legs back under them.
So, how are the Bruins prepared to handle success starting Thursday night against the Flyers?
“I don’t know about all that hangover stuff or whatever, I just know we are ready for the season to begin,” chirped Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton, who won his first Cup with the Ducks in 2007. “I literally don’t know. This is my second one. All I know, when you get that first one, all you want to do is win another one. You win two, all you want is to do is win three.
“Listen, there’ll be times in the this season where we’ll be down and I’m sure you guys [media] will jump all over the fact because it’s something to write about. There’s ups and downs throughout a whole season and as long as we keep it even keel and continue to have a steady climb, getting ready for wherever we’re going to go, I think that’s the most important thing. That’s what we were so good at last year, not letting the highs get too high and the lows get too low.”
|Claude Julien expects Bruins to make more cuts after Islanders game||09.23.11 at 2:05 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien indicated after Friday’s practices that a second round of cuts may come after Friday’s preseason game against the Islanders.
“I think we’re going to be minimizing our roster I guess starting probably after tonight’s game,” Julien said Friday. “There’s a possibility there. A lot of that depends on the game tonight and who shows well, and etc., etc. The number we anticipate may be changed, but I think there might be some changes made after tonight’s game and leading into that trip to Halifax we’ll minimize our group a little bit.”
The Bruins made six cuts on Wednesday, sending Tyler Randell, Yannick Riendeau, Stefan Chaput, Calle Ridderwall and Kyle MacKinnon to Providence and Anthony Camara back to Saginaw of the OHL.
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