Bruins don't dwell on Pacioretty's return to Boston

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Bruins don't dwell on Pacioretty's return to Boston

BOSTON -- Its pretty clear the Montreal media is pushing the Max Pacioretty making his heroic return against the Bruins story angle this week, but the Bruins arent biting.

Pacioretty has had an eventful week. He injured his right wrist a problem that many in the Habs media corps quickly diagnosed as a broken wrist and then potted two goals in Montreals big 5-1 victory over the Flyers after he was expected to miss the game.

That sets up a dramatic game against the Bruins for the Montreal winger, his first since his season was ended after Zdeno Chara checked him into a Bell Centre stanchion. The violent crash into the turnbuckle ended with Pacioretty unable to move on the ice with a fractured neck vertebrae and a severe concussion, and with rabid Montreal fans calling for criminal charges against the Bs captain in what the NHL ultimately termed a hockey play unworthy of supplemental discipline.

Everybody remembers the March 8 game in Montreal that ended the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Connecticut natives year. Everybody remembers the Dr. Recchi jokes in Quebec when the future Hall of Fame winger took issue with Pacioretty going to the movies just days after being diagnosed with a concussion. Everybody remembers the boos and CNN crews following Chara like he was Frankensteins monster when the hit made the 6-foot-9 defenseman out to be Public Enemy No. 1 in Montreal.

So there are natural narratives for Pacioretty and Chara headed into Thursday nights epic tilt between the Bruins and the Canadiens, but the Bs players arent really worried about any one individual Canadiens player given their 3-5 start to their season.

Theyve got to get back on the winning way, and quell the chatter about Stanley Cup hangovers and substandard offense.

Chara didnt address the media on Thursday, but said on Wednesday hed basically turned the page, whether Pacioretty was on the ice or in the stands.

Im just excited to play the game, said Chara without fully addressing the Pacioretty end of the question. The games are huge. These games are big. Im not even talking about the rivalries. Im just talking about the standings.

Im sure where both teams are they are going to be good games for both teams. Itll be one of those games everyone will be really ready for it. Those games are exciting to play against each other, but theyre also very important games. We dont want to fall any deeper in the standings.

Mix their lackluster opening month with last springs seven game battle between the two teams in the first round of the playoffs, and there are plenty of factors that make these games interesting without rehashing the Pacioretty hit.

Most would argue that the bloodbath game between Montreal and Boston in February of last season with 182 penalty minutes, no less isnt going to happen on the Garden ice tonight no matter which way the game trends. The points are too important to a pair of hockey clubs that had high aspirations heading into the year, but are shooting themselves in the foot in October.

Its going to be a great challenge for both sides, said Kelly. Were both not where we want to be in the standings, and it gives us a great opportunity to play six plus periods against each other where there is some history there.

But what about Pacioretty?

I dont anticipate there being anything. Both Pacioretty and Chara are playing well right now, said Kelly. Its good to see Pacioretty back playing and to see Chara at 100 percent.

I honestly forgot about it. I thought about the playoffs more with Montreal and that seven game series that was one of the best series Ive ever been a part of. That was on my mind more than the Pacioretty hit.

Thursday should be about the Habs and Bruins simply needing a win to stay out of the Northeast Division cellar, not settling individual scores. It could also be a coming out party for a player in Pacioretty thats leading the Canadiens with four goals and nine points this season. That would match Tyler Seguin for Bostons team lead in points, and is more goals that anybody in a Black and Gold uniform this season.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said that the bottom line with Pacioretty is hes healthy and playing well, and the Bruins were happy to see a fellow hockey player able to come back from serious injuries.

The one thing were happy about and that would be for anyone else is that hes healthy, said Julien. "As a player in the league you dont want to see somebody end their career in an unfortunate accident. But what you want to see is a player come back and be healthy.

As far as thats concerned, hes healthy, weve turned the page and now its time to move on.

If anybody knows about unfortunate incidents its the Bruins as they've ssen Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron both felled for long periods of time due to concussions. Luckily for the Habs and Pacioretty, the after-effects of his injury seem to be nothing like the long-term effects on Savard. Much like Bergeron, the Habs forward has returned to full health with last years nasty collision firmly in the rear view mirror.

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

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Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.