|Bruins can’t wait for their next test: Sidney Crosby and the East-leading Penguins||12.05.11 at 10:42 am ET|
It’s the perfect test at the perfect time.
The Bruins have rebounded from a 3-7-0 start and are the hottest team in the NHL. They have 13 of 14 and are unbeaten in regulation since Oct. 29 in Montreal.
The Penguins are the top team in the East and have been the best team in the conference since the start of the season.
Now the top two teams in the conference meet in tonight in Pittsburgh.
“It's going to be a great challenge for us,” said Chris Kelly, who scored the game-winner on Saturday night. “They are playing extremely well. They have their best player back and he seems like he hasn't missed a beat. It will be an exciting game for us.”
Of course, the “best player” to whom Kelly refers is Sidney Crosby. He returned from his post-concussion symptoms on Nov. 21 with two goals in a 5-0 win over the Islanders. He hasn’t scored since but he does have 10 assists and the Pens are 5-1-1 in the seven games with him back in the lineup.
“It's going to be a big game,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “We haven't faced them this season yet. Obviously they’ve got a healthy team now. I'm sure it's going to be a good game.”
Tonight marks the first of four games between the last two Eastern Conference teams who have won the Stanley Cup. The Penguins won on Detroit’s home ice in Game 7 in 2009 while the Bruins accomplished the same feat back on June 15 in Vancouver.
Is this is a “measuring stick” game for the defending champion B’s?
“I think we’re approaching- we’ve got the right mind set going into every game right now,” new pugilist Joe Corvo said. “I feel like we’re playing the same way every game and we’re being super consistent and if we don’t at some point in the game, it gets corrected. I think it’s obviously a good test, they’re in first place so it’ll be an exciting game.”
With a regulation win, the Bruins will be just one point out of the top spot in the East, 15 games after being in the cellar.
“We want to get up there in the standings and this is a game for first place so it's going to be a big one,” David Krejci said.
There will be no rest after the game, either. The Bruins hop on a plane and go halfway across the continent for a Tuesday night game in Winnipeg.
|Claude Julien hopes his team is ‘heading in the direction’ of the Red Wings||12.04.11 at 12:36 pm ET|
For all the talk of a Stanley Cup “hangover” following a 3-7-0 start, the Bruins are in the midst of one of the best early-season runs any defending champ has had in recent memory.
The numbers are remarkable.
A 10-game winning streak, points in 14 straight games, and a 13-0-1 mark in those 14 contests.
They dispatched of their division rival Maple Leafs, 4-1, on Saturday at the Garden, sweeping the home-and-home series. They have manhandled the Leafs, 24-6, in winning all four games this season.
What’s next for this powerhouse?
How about doing it year-after-year? That’s what Claude Julien is thinking, just like the Red Wings, the only team to beat the Bruins in this remarkable stretch, the day after Thanksgiving.
“As a coach you are always afraid you're going to peak to early and then when things start going bad, it will take a while to get yourself back on track But I feel differently about this because of the, I guess the sentiment in the room and the feeling is we're not taking anything for granted,” Julien said. “We're staying poised, we're not getting cocky, we're not getting complacent, we're still focused and that's the part I like. And again, that's probably from experience and we've seen other teams in the past and we talk about the Red Wings and every year they come back strong and maybe we are a team heading in that direction.”
But the Bruins don’t have to wait until possible rematch with the Red Wings in the Cup finals for their next big test. That’ll be Monday night in Pittsburgh against the East-leading Penguins with a now-healthy Sidney Crosby back and powering his team.
|Brad Marchand: ‘It’s a little tougher out there’ after signing contract||11.11.11 at 9:12 am ET|
Before scoring two goals in Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Oilers, Brad Marchand had just one goal since his power play score on opening night against the Flyers.
There was some thought that maybe – just maybe – he was putting pressure on himself to produce after signing his two-year, $5 million contract extension in mid-September.
“I don’t want to change my game, change how I play,” Marchand said, before admitting he’s now a focal point of defenses. “It’s a little tougher out there. You have to face [expectations] but, for the most part, I just want to play the same way.”
The chances were certainly there throughout the first 13 games. But he had just two goals and five assists to show for his work.
On Thursday, those chances turned into goals, two to be exact, as Marchand took a little time to exhale.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “It was nice to get the monkey off the back it was definitely getting frustrating, missing a lot of opportunities, so it was nice to get a couple.
“I think the big thing was keep it a little more simple and getting pucks to the net. I was getting a lot of opportunities and they just weren't going in. And if you keep pushing and keep getting opportunities then eventually something is going to go in and that's what happened.”
Now, the Bruins are back at .500 at 7-7-0 and Marchand hopes his game will ride the momentum of the team’s four-game winning streak.
“Definitely, it's nice to get back to .500 here and obviously we are a little ways from where we want to be and where we should be, but we're definitely taking steps forward,” he said.
Does he feel he is out of a scoring slump?
“I don't know it's just one game, you have to keep going forward and keep things simple and hopefully they keep going in,” he said. “I just got a little luck out there. That’s how it goes sometimes. I went longer spurts last year without scoring goals and it’s just how it goes. Things go up and down. You can’t get too high or too low. It’s hockey.”
|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.”
|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 »
|Inside the Locker Room: Opening Night||at 12:14 am ET|
|Bruins get their banner night||10.06.11 at 9:48 pm ET|
With a sellout crowd roaring, the Bruins capped a 25-minute pregame ceremony on opening night by raising the sixth Stanley Cup championship banner in franchise history.
Current players who played on the 2011 Stanley Cup title team last June along with members of the last Bruins team to win the Cup in 1972 brought the banner from center ice – where it hung during the ceremony alongside the Stanley Cup – to its final resting place alongside the 1972 banner high above TD Garden ice.
The Bruins held the ceremony prior to the season opener against the new-look Flyers.
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