Bruins looking for better defensive effort vs. Sabres

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Bruins looking for better defensive effort vs. Sabres

BUFFALO The Bruins pretty clearly dont want anything close to a repeat performance of their last game against the Buffalo Sabres.

They created over 20 scoring chances for themselves, and that was an overwhelming positive. But they also had enough defensive zone coverage miscues for an entire months worth of games and allowed seven goals while also getting pushed around their rink by an obviously emotional Sabres bunch.

Unsurprisingly that led to Bostons only regulation loss in nine regular season games played this season, and a pretty easy blueprint for what not to do against Buffalo this time around. A little more of the typical hard to play against Bruins attitude and focused defensive intensity would be a good couple of places to start for the Black and Gold, who hope to have Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton back in the lineup on Sunday night at the First Niagara Center.

The Bruins bounced back from the Buffalo defeat with two much more typical efforts in allowing only one combined goal to the Maple Leafs and Canadiens over the last week.

We were much better, obviously, said coach Claude Julien. I think it was a little bit of a breakdown in our system and it happened to be against Buffalo. When you give that kind of team that kind of space and opportunities, theyre going to put the puck in the net.

Theres no doubt were going to focus on being better in our game without the puck tonight against the Sabres. Ryan Miller played well the last time out, but we still scored four goals against him. For us thats usually good enough for a win. We left our goalie hanging on a lot of our breakdowns. We hope to continue the offensive trend against them, but we need to tighten up defensively.

Thats the exact kind of grinding, relentless effort theyll be looking for on the road in Buffalo. Rather than hoping 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara will pound enforcer John Scott into the ice, the Bruins will settle for a big improvement over the bogus effort that left him with a minus-3 against Vanek and the Sabres the last time out.

Weve showed a lot of character. The game in Montreal wasnt our best effort, but we found a way to get the two points, said Patrice Bergeron. We need a 60-minute effort tonight, but I like the way weve been battling.

It might also help if they can somehow slow down Thomas Vanek, who leads the NHL with 11 goals and 23 points in 11 games played this season and romped over Boston with a hat trick at TD Garden.

That means some of Bostons best defensive players namely Chara and Bergeron need to be much better than they were against the Sabres the first time around.

Were aware that they have some great players offensively, said Bergeron. Thats what they want: the 2-on-1s and the odd-man rushes. We know their D-men have good skill and move up the ice very well. We just need to be aware of that and just play our game. We didnt do that against them the first time.

The charge is there for the Bruins: Shut down Vanek and return to their punishing, exacting style of play against Buffalo. Fail to do those things or get too involved in the distractions that the agitating Sabres can throw at you, and the result could be disappointment for Boston all over again.

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.