Bruins frustration gets the best of them

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Bruins frustration gets the best of them

BOSTON -- The Bruins and Claude Julien are seeing a disturbing trend with many of their games thus far this season.

The Bs stormout of the startingchute firing on most if not all cylinders and generate some pretty good offensive chances, but they don't capitalize early in the game on those changes. That little first period tease ends up being cause for frustration later on in the game when the Bruins either A) get wildly out of their game plan or B) make mistakes out of misplaced anger and emotion as they did on Tuesday night while playing right into the hands of agitating Tim Gleason.

Its what happened to the Bruins against the Flyers opening night when they should have been up by three or four goals in the first period, it happened on the road in Carolina after a first period filled with Grade A scoring chances turned away by Cam Ward, and it went down again against the Hurricanes againTuesday night in a 4-1 defeat at TD Garden where the B's simply "lost it" in the final 20 minutes.

I think what I saw from tonight is that we start off the game well. In the first period we had some great chances, but were not capitalizing, Julien said. What I see is frustration setting in. The minute we start getting frustrated, we lose focus of our game and then it gets worse and worse. Thats been a bit of a pattern this year.

If you look back at the Philadelphia game, we start off well in the first period, same thing and we didnt capitalize . . . even Colorado. There have been some games where we come out of the game well and have some great opportunities to score, but its not going in right now. The frustration is getting the better of us. I think its important that we fight our way through it and manage our frustration here.

The third period against the Hurricanes on Tuesday night was all about losing focus and letting frustration creep into their game, and Nathan Horton turned into the poster boy for that projected anger. The B's right winger took a single cross check to the back from Gleason, knew the Carolina defenseman wasn't going to fight when he tossed off his gloves and then proceeded to beat him into the ice anyway. That it happened just 31 seconds after the Bruins had halved their deficit to 2-1 on a Rich Peverley goal gives one a pretty clear pictures of what Gleason was doing -- and the kind of trap that Horton willingly fell into on a night when two points were still within reach.Andrew Ference said that much of it is reflected back on the ineffectiveness of Boston's offense, and individual players feeling pressure to produce as they did last season. It's not happening early this year, and many of the Bruins are getting out of the practices that made them so effective.

I think that we wanted to start off with a better record, and guys personally wanted to get off with better numbers to get their stuff going. They wanted to feel sharp about their game, said Ference. But you cant let those frustrations get in the way of having success. Were a good team with a good system, but we run into troubles when you start searching outside of the system trying to do too much. Once we get outside of it even if its only a couple of guys it really blows up the way that were trying to play.

If there was one thing the Bruins definitely did against the Hurricanes on Tuesday night, it was blow up in the final 20 minutes of play. Sure, they showed some fight and emotion against a team that traditionally doesn't bring it out of them. But its time for the Bruins to recognize their frustratedpatterns and address them before theyre doomed to repeat them overand overagain during such an important stretch of home ice hockey early in the year.

Acciari, Heinen called back up to Bruins

Acciari, Heinen called back up to Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The Bruins made a few roster moves after a slogging 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche earlier this week, with an eye toward getting some competition going among the forward group, and perhaps spark a team struggling offensively.

Danton Heinen and Noel Acciari were brought up from Providence to skate with the big club on Saturday morning at Warrior Ice Arena and gritty Anton Blidh was returned to the P-Bruins after a solid stint as a fourth-line energy guy for the Black and Gold. 

Jimmy Hayes and Colin Miller were the late skaters off the ice following morning skate, so those will be the healthy scratches for the Bruins with both Acciari and Heinen in the lineup for the Black and Gold tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

Heinen has been tearing it up for the P-Bruins lately with four goals and seven points in his past five games with a plus-2 rating, including a couple of two-goal games for a Providence team that’s starting to heat up. 

Otherwise, things looked fairly similar for the Black and Gold, who didn’t make any changes to the struggling top power-play unit that was a disaster on Thursday night in the first period. It was Patrice Bergeron in the bumper role, Ryan Spooner on the half-wall, David Backes at the front of the net and David Krejci and Torey Krug manning the point positions. 

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings based on the morning skate: 

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Heinen-Krejci-Backes

Spooner-Nash-Czarnik

Schaller-Moore-Acciari/Hayes

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-K. Miller

C. Miller

Rask

 

Bruins power play looking for some upgrade answers

Bruins power play looking for some upgrade answers

BOSTON - It would appear things can’t continue the way they are for the Bruins' power play. 

After a disastrous first period helped dig them a hole in a 4-2 loss to the lowly Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night, there was some pretty serious soul-searching going with a man-advantage that has been both toothless and mistake-prone on far too many nights. 

In the Colorado loss a couple of early power-play possessions, one that was completely ineffectual with zero meaningful possession or shots on net and then a second that turned into a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal, dropped the B’s into a hole they couldn’t climb out of. The shorthanded sequence was particularly damning with a desperate Torey Krug diving to keep a puck in the offensive zone, and then watching helpless as MacKinnon beat him to the loose puck and then took off down the ice behind the last line of B’s defense. 

Krug placed the blame on himself for the high-risk play at the offensive blue line, but it’s hard to wholly blame somebody that was using hustle to try and make something happen offensively. 

“I thought they were tired, and if I could keep it in then we keep them hemmed in and get them running around. At the end of the day, it’s a 50-50 play, but maybe early in my career, I learn that now and probably won’t do it anymore. Sometimes you’ve got to go through those things to learn,” said Krug. “It’s just one of those plays I thought instinctively I could get there and keep him hemmed in, and you could even tell when he went in on the breakaway that he was tired.

So, if I keep that in and we keep them hemmed in, hopefully we get a couple chances. But we’ve got to be better, some of our better players on our team, and we’ve got to take the onus on ourselves to start capitalizing on opportunities and changing the game for our team.”

Nobody is going to reasonably suggest that a dangerous power-play guy like Krug be removed from the special-teams unit, but clearly something needs to change. The Bruins are tied for 25th in the NHL on the power play with a 14.1 percent success rate, and they can’t blame lack of opportunities because they’re middle of the road when it comes to power-play chances this season. 

Only the Flyers, Stars and Blackhawks have allowed more shorthanded goals than the Bruins (four) in 28 games played as well, so the Black and Gold essentially aren’t playing good defense or offense on the power play this year. Krug saie that it’s a mindset thing and that the Bruins need to get back to the confident, energetic way they attacked penalty kills last season. 

“We want to make plays, we want to help our team. It’s not like we’re out there not trying to make plays or anything, but we just have to be better,” said Krug. “We’ve got to have better focus, crisper passes, making quick plays to the net and making things happen. I feel like right now we might just be standing there, [just kind of] static, just hoping that things are going to happen and we’re not making them happen. 

“So, we’ve got to change our mindset, and like I said, those guys on that unit are the guys that will go to work and make sure we’re better next time for our team.”

But it goes beyond simple approach. The Bruins lost their second-leading PP goal-scorer last season when Loui Eriksson signed with the Vancouver Canucks. Other top unit PP performers like David Krejci,  Krug and Ryan Spooner haven’t been as good this season. Still, perhaps the biggest reason is the all-around offensive disappearance of Patrice Bergeron, who had 12 goals and 13 assists on the PP last season for a team-best 25 power-play points. This season, Bergeron has one goal and two points on the PP in 25 games and has been neutralized by opposing penalty kills from his “bumper” position roving up and down the slot. 

The Bruins are determined to ride things out with Bergeron both five-on-five and on the PP, and rightfully so, given his quality, productive body of work with the Bruins. He’s Boston’s best player and you don’t ever go away from those guys. 

But Bergeron has been ordinary for the Bruins on the PP after being extraordinary last season, and not much is going to change with the B’s man advantage unless No. 37 begins to find the range, confidence and short-term quick burst that’s needed for the B’s power play to flow through him like a well-oiled scoring machine. A greater impact by David Backes on the net-front power play could help and an uptick in PP production from Krug, Krejci and Spooner would obviously be welcome for the Black and Gold. 

But the Bruins power play is designed to play off Bergeron’s many qualities and strengths when he’s at his best, and a big part of the B’s troubles and Bergeron’s troubles are linked together because No. 37 has been less than his best in a season that’s been challenging for him from the very beginning.