|Bruins finally showing winning ‘character’ at right time||03.13.15 at 10:11 am ET|
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 »
|Claude Julien hopes NHL moves to 3-on-3 play or back to ties (basically anything but a shootout)||03.12.15 at 1:39 pm ET|
In the shocker of all shockers, Bruins coach Claude Julien said Tuesday that he hopes three-on-three overtime play replaces the shootout.
Julien, who last week said shootouts “suck” expressed hope that next week’s general managers meetings in Toronto will further the move away from the shootout. It’s expected that the league will explore playing three-on-three in the event that the game isn’t settled in four-on-four overtime play.
“Personally I’m more of a team-oriented coach I guess, which I always believe that this is a team sport and should be decided by a team,” Julien said. “I never, never have been [in favor of the shootout] and I’m just being honest about it. I know it’s a great show and I know that we’re here for our fans. If the fans like it that much and they keep it in then I have no issues, I’ll move along with it. But if you ask me my personal opinion, I’d like to see it decided in a way that its more than just one player against a goaltender.
“Whether its four-on-four or three-on-three, it’s still a group. I think that’s the way games should be decided. I’m still one of those people that still believes that if you can’t decide it with four-on-four or three-on-three then a tie should still be good. For some reason we’ve decided that there needs to be a winner every game. Sometimes a lot of people can go home really happy having seen a game that was well played, that was tight at the end of it, was exciting to watch vs people going home feeling like they didn’t do a great job because they lost in the shootout. It really tarnishes the outcome of the whole game. That’s my personal opinion on it.”
Four-on-four followed by three-on-three and then a shootout is currently being used to settle overtime games in the AHL.
|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|
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 »
|Claude Julien says ‘lack of finish is probably the biggest concern right now’||03.06.15 at 8:50 am ET|
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 »
|Claude Julien on shootouts: ‘They suck’||03.05.15 at 11:12 pm ET|
Claude Julien hates shootouts, just like everybody who has anything to do with the Bruins hates shootouts.
The reason the Bruins hate shootouts is because they’re bad at them. After falling in eight rounds to the Flames on Thursday, Boston’s 2-7 record in the shootout this season is better than only the Kings’ 1-7 mark.
So, when asked about shootouts following Thursday’s loss, Julien cut off the question.
“They suck,” he said.
The reporter responded, “Hmm?” before Julien enunciated a little better.
“They suck,” he repeated as clearly as he could. “That’s my [feelings on] the shootout.”
Julien was then asked if he was talking about his players or the shootout, which was a good question, given that Bruins players happen to — to borrow a term — suck at shootouts. He said he meant shootouts, though he was probably just being nice.
Though the Bruins have participated in nine shootouts this season, no Bruins player has multiple goals. Reilly Smith, who leads the Bruins in attempts, is 1-for-10. Patrice Bergeron is 1-for-8.
The Bruins also participated in the NHL‘s worst shootout of the season less than a month ago, as neither the Oilers nor the B’s scored until the 12th round in the teams’ Feb. 18. In case you had to guess, it was the Oilers that scored and won.
To make matters worse, the Bruins had to deal with bad ice as they tried to turn their shootout luck around Thursday. Both Ryan Spooner and Torey Krug lost the puck as they tried to skate in on Karri Ramo, with Spooner losing the puck so badly that he couldn’t attempt a shot. The puck also skipped on Brad Marchand.
The good news for the Bruins is that there aren’t shootouts in the playoffs. The bad news is that you get more points and make the playoffs when you in shootouts.
|Claude Julien growing tired of ‘carelessness’ and ‘poor work ethic’||02.11.15 at 7:27 am ET|
As bad as the Bruins power play was Tuesday night in a 5-3 loss to the Stars, Claude Julien sees a bigger problem. His team is getting sloppy and careless when it matters most.
One example came when the Bruins had tied the game in the second period, 3-3. They get a power play and a chance to take their first lead. Instead, they allow their second short-handed goal of the night. They couldn’t recover.
“I think carelessness is one [issue],” Julien said. “[Just] poor work ethic on the power play. When you looked at even the second goal, you know, our coming back and our two guys back there are just flat-footed and just kind of lackadaisical and very soft and real disappointing that our power play was like that tonight. We talk about the lack of power plays we get, and tonight we get some and we don’t do anything with it so we only have ourselves to look at and blame ourselves for this, not only the power play but this loss.
“I thought when we tied it 3-3, the start of our second period, even in our second period, I think we had at least seven good scoring chances. But a lot like last game, too, we had some great opportunities right in front of the net and we’re not burying those. Same thing with Montreal, in the first period we could have had the lead 1-0 with Price out of the net and they’ve got guys in the crease and we didn’t bury those, so again it’s a challenge of burying your chances, and what it ends up doing is giving them the opportunity to take a lead.
“And our power play wasn’t good, but at the same time we had lots of opportunities to score goals tonight throughout the whole night. We had lots of shots, lots of loose pucks in front, and because you don’t bury those you end up on the losing side of things, and that’s one of the reasons, besides not having enough guys playing at their capabilities.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Zdeno Chara says ‘my bad’ for running into Dougie Hamilton and giving Montreal game-winning goal||02.09.15 at 9:40 am ET|
For as much as Bruins fans might be frustrated with the unfinished chances that Daniel Paille continues to generate, no play summarizes Boston’s frustration this season with the Canadiens than the one in the opening minute of the third period Sunday night.
Dougie Hamilton had the puck in the high slot and appeared ready to take aim on the impenetrable Carey Price, with the Canadiens leading, 1-0. But Zdeno Chara, reading David Krejci circling around the net, collided with Hamilton. The back-check of his own teammate gave Dale Weise the puck. Weise found a sprinting Max Pacioretty at center ice and Pacioretty beat Tuukka Rask between the pads for a 2-0 Canadiens lead.
“That was my bad,” Chara said. “I saw David going around the net and I moved in and that’s something that I shouldn’t probably – usually you have the crossing defenseman moving in. I may have misread it and it ended up costing us. I’m taking blame for that because that’s something I should be more patient with and maybe take a look. Dougie [Hamilton] was in the right spot, David made the right play and, I don’t know, I just thought that I would have a chance to move in but that’s not the way we play.”
“I saw him last second,” Hamilton said of Chara. “I don’t know, I haven’t really seen it yet. I don’t know, just a bad bounce, miscommunication, and it results in a goal.”
Claude Julien did see it very clearly and left no doubt that he felt badly for Rask. It was his goalie who saved Chara in the first period when he lost a puck at the blue line and turned away a chance from Jacob De La Rose. In total, Rask stopped 31 of 33 shots but fell to 3-13-3 all time in the regular season against Montreal. Read the rest of this entry »