Bruins show they still have room for improvement defensively

Bruins show they still have room for improvement defensively
April 3, 2013, 11:30 am
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BOSTON -- While the Bruins found a way to once again beat the Ottawa Senators for the 13th time in the last 14 games and leveled a season-high 50 shots on the Sens, Claude Julien is still looking for improvement from his Black and Gold bunch.

The offensive flow and general production of scoring chances were phenomenal in the rare up-and-down game from two of the best defensive teams in the NHL, but Julien sees plenty of room for improvement defensively. Anton Khudobin did a masterful job while making 45 saves in the 3-2 win, but Boston has some work to get done in front of their own net.

“It was good to see our team offensively, create some chances because that’s an area where we’ve struggled. But, somehow we’ve got to combine both [offense and defense] together. I thought we were very soft defensively,” said Julien. “We didn’t play with heavy sticks, got ripped off the puck many times and weren’t extremely strong on the wall . . . stuff like that."

“[There was] a lot of turnovers, and a lot of takeaways. Defensively, we kind of had a so-so game, but offensively we were much better. Heavy game to me doesn’t mean heavy as far as physical, because we had 30-something hits tonight, I just don’t know how many times we had the puck [in the D-zone] and they just came from behind and took it back. You know, those were not good signs for our team defensively.”

It’s a tricky balancing act because the Bruins want to create more offense after struggling to score key goals all season, and the trade for Jaromir Jagr is a clear sign Boston’s front office is looking for more offense. But the Bruins are based on the bedrock of strong defense and goaltending, and even the players were admitting that there is still work to be done.

Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg had some issues with turnovers and covering the front of the net on the play that led to Ottawa's first goal, and that same defensive pairing was again on the ice for Andre Benoit’s game-tying goal in the second period. There was a little too much chaos in front of the net that not even a leaping Khudobin could help rescue from danger.

“Let me put it this way, I’m satisfied that we got two points. They don’t come easy this time of the year,” admitted Zdeno Chara. “We can be better, yes, so are we going to work on it, yes. [But] we are satisfied with the two points.”

In fact, in many ways Tuesday night was probably the best outcome for Julien: He got the two points and saw many signs that the offense was coming back together, but there is also plenty of evidence easily pointed out on video that the Bruins have defensive work to do.

That will allow the Bruins coaching staff to have some teaching moments, and perhaps allow the team to find that well-balanced game it has been looking for on Thursday night when it plays the New Jersey Devils.