Bruins looking for better defensive effort vs. Sabres


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.

Bergeron 'feeling good' in return, plays role of third period hero

Bergeron 'feeling good' in return, plays role of third period hero

BOSTON – It certainly feels appropriate that Patrice Bergeron would author a clutch game-winning goal late in the third period of his first game back after missing a week of games with a lower body injury. That Bergeron’s game-winner also arrived in the home opener at TD Garden was an added bonus once No. 37 hammered a shot from the high slot with 1:15 to go in the third period to give the Bruins their first lead of the game in a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.

The goal arrived courtesy of a nifty setup from linemate Brad Marchand working behind the New Jersey net, and also thanks to David Pastrnak winning a battle in the corner thanks to newfound grit in his game. But the hero of the day again turned out to be No. 37, who went from missing an entire week of action to reclaiming his center role on the top line, playing 16:49 of ice time and winning 13-of-24 face-offs while generating five shot attempts.

“I think it’s pretty obvious with what he did [against the Devils]. After being off for over a week and to come back and have one practice with us then back into the game, he scores a clutch goal for us. That’s what he has always been, a clutch player for us,” said Claude Julien. “I think the third period we gave it a really good push there and I like seeing that from our team that you come out and you don’t play on your heels and you push hard and we went down by a goal but we got our game going like I said and we got a couple goals to win this for us.”

Bergeron modestly said postgame that he was just trying to get into the flow of the game after missing a healthy chunk of time with injury. But he certainly looked like he was vintage form once it crunch time. The timing was perfect as he stepped into the one-timer shot off Marchand’s pass, and beat Cory Schneider amid a strong 34-save performance by the kid from Marblehead.

“I mean I was just trying to, I guess, get my feet wet right away and use the first few shifts to kind of just get, feel good about my positioning and my skating,” said Bergeron. “As the game went on I just felt better. Of course you want to start on a good note, especially at home, and we talked about our home record in the last few years. We wanted to do the job early, especially in the first game, and it’s one step but we’re happy with it.”

It was like Bergeron didn’t miss a single beat after missing the first three games of the season with a lower body injury, and those kinds of instincts and natural ability are things worth marveling about when it comes to the Bruins.

“I was feeling good [on the ice],” said Bergeron. “It would have been nice to ride the wave of the World Cup, but that being said I thought in the first I was trying to be good position ally and kind of get myself going with the first few shifts, and just kind of go from there. Overall I thought that happened.”

While the comeback win was certainly good news for the Bruins, the best news of all is that Bergeron has returned to the lineup with no signs of an injury that surprised everybody right before the start of the regular season.