Bruins ready to remove bad taste of last year's Florida swing


Bruins ready to remove bad taste of last year's Florida swing

WILMINGTON, MA The last taste in the Bruins mouths from a trip to Florida was a little bit of a bitter one last season.

The swing through the Sunshine State came when things were falling apart for a tired Bruins bunch in the middle of March last season as they were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, and were outscored by a 12-3 margin over the course of those two hockey games.

That was in the middle of a stretch losing eight of 12 games for the Bruins when Tuukka Rask was lost to injury against the New York Islanders, and the bottom was dropping out as they prepped for the postseason.

The Lightning and Panthers are obviously different teams this season with both hockey clubs moving in different directions this year but the fact remains that Boston went 1-3 in four road games in sunny, welcoming Florida last season.

Of course the Bruins were also 6-2 in road games against the Panthers and Lightning over the previous two seasons, so theres that as well.

It could have been the time of the season or something like that, said Milan Lucic. Weve had other seasons where weve had a lot of success down there. It definitely is a little different getting ready for a game with the warmer weather, but we need to do whatever we need to do to have more success in the warmer weather this week.

Instead the Bruins are looking forward to a week on the road with the swing through Florida, Tampa and the New York Islanders that qualifies as their first real extended time away from TD Garden and Boston this season. For a team thats racked up some of the best road records in the Eastern Conference over the last three seasons, that is something that the Bruins actively welcome a month into the abbreviated NHL season.

Some of the Bruins are just happy they can put away the shovels for a week while traveling to a warmer part of the country. But theyll also need to be vigilant against a pair of teams in the Panthers and Lightning that are outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, and hungry to get back into the top eight teams in the East.

After what weve all been through these last two weeks with the snowstorm being cold around here, it will be nice to get some warm weather in and some Vitamin D, said Lucic. But even though thats a good thing we cant lose sight of what this trip is all about, and thats getting some wins in Florida. We have to enjoy our first true road trip where we get to spend some time together as a team, but the focus is playing some good, hard hockey so we can get some wins.

If the Bs are looking for motivation, however, they should just watch some game tapes from the back-to-back abominations they produced against Florida and Tampa in the middle of March last season while the second round of the Stanley Cup hangover was in full effect.

Saturday, Oct. 22: Coyotes' growing pains


Saturday, Oct. 22: Coyotes' growing pains

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while suffering from the same “general soreness” as Tuukka Rask.

*The Arizona Coyotes are suffering from growing pains that were extremely evident during a winless road trip.

*Steve Dangle is obviously jacked and pumped about his Maple Leafs, but wondering about the future of Roman Polak. But aren’t we all at this point?

*Old friends Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg both scored the victorious Islanders in a Friday night win.

*Clarke MacArthur isn’t ready to retire even as concussion issues are really starting to impact his ability to stay on the ice.

*Teemu Selanne gives fellow Finn Patrick Laine a thumbs up as he was in town for events with his former Winnipeg Jets.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the details on noted Bruins killer Dale Weise getting suspended for three games after some dirty activity with the Philadelphia Flyers.

*For something completely different: Geoff Edgers has been trying to reach Bill Murray for weeks, and here’s what happened when he finally called back.


Bruins looking for a lift from stagnant power play


Bruins looking for a lift from stagnant power play

BRIGHTON, Mass. – One area where the Bruins are looking for more after a mostly positive first four regular-season games: the power play.

The B’s are a downright gross 1-for-14 on the man-advantage to start the season and were 0-for-4 on Thursday night while squeaking out a last-minute win over the New Jersey Devils. The early-season 7.1 percent success rate doesn’t have them last in the NHL, but only the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames have performed at a lower PP clip.

It’s a subject that Claude Julien knew was coming from the B’s media, and so he was ready to answer for it ahead of Saturday night’s rivalry renewal with the Montreal Canadiens.

“I knew it was just a matter of time before that question came. It is what it is. I think we had some opportunities, but we haven’t finished,” said Julien. “At the end of the day our power play is judged by whether you score or not, and I thought our second period [vs. the Devils] wasn’t great. But our third period had some really good power plays, but we didn’t manage to score.

“Where we need to get to right now [on the power play], is to find a way to finish. There’s no doubt the absence of Patrice Bergeron there brings somebody else in, and maybe there’s not as much chemistry as we’re used to. But I think with him back now we can even be better, and get a little more movement…not be so stagnant. When we struggle a bit it’s because we’re a little stagnant, and we need to get a little better there.”

Quite a bit of the struggles go back to Bergeron missing the first three games of the season and the top power-play unit missing No. 37 from his trademark bumper role at the center of the PP action. The power play remained scoreless as the unit adjusted to Bergeron's return on Thursday night, but it seemed that things started to click a little bit as that game went on.

“It’s not moving right now. We’ll just work through it. There were times last year where it let us down, and there were times last year where it helped us through some tough moments,” said Torey Krug of the PP. “Right now we’re able to play through it, but at some point this team is going to need this PP to step up and score some goals. We rely on that, and the guys on the power play take a lot of pride in it.

“[Bergeron] does a lot of things for us. Instead of me having to go all the way to the other end to break the puck out where I’m losing 20 seconds and frankly it’s tiring to break the puck out, now we have him winning face-offs and we’re starting with the puck in the zone. That’s a big thing, and he collects puck like nobody else in the league. With him back on the power play it brings another important player to the forefront, but it’s a five man unit and when everything’s working out there [on the PP] we have a good unit.”

Now with Ryan Spooner expected to rejoin the B’s lineup, after being healthy scratch vs. New Jersey, that adds another dangerous power-play weapon that practiced with that unit on Saturday morning ahead of the traditional morning skate. The hope is that installing Bergeron and Spooner will help kick-start a special teams unit that’s been less than explosive, and not quite cohesive, in the first four games of the season.