Bruins special teams makes impact on both ends of ice


Bruins special teams makes impact on both ends of ice

RALEIGH, NC After much power play bashing over the last nine days, the Bruins special teams units finally found wonderful, beautiful victory harmony in the Monday night win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked about the power play goal scored in Bostons 5-3 win over the Hurricanes at PNC Arena, and gently reminded his questioner that the Bs had actually scored two power plays in the win.

The coach was asking who was counting, to which he replied sharp as a whip: I am.

Zdeno Chara had taken a bit off his normally lethal slap shot from the point and feathered a wrist shot through a Milan Lucic screen for a first period PP strike, and Tyler Seguin capped off the victory with an empty net power play score in the closing seconds of regulation.

In between the Bruins generated seven shots in their four power play possessions above and beyond the two scores, and enjoyed good possession and momentum out of both units. They even managed to set up for a screaming Tyler Seguin one-timer from the left circle that Cam Ward got a piece of with his pads.

The two PP scores make the Bruins a much more respectable 3-for-21 on the season that puts them in the middle of the pack at a 14 percent success rate.

That said, the Bruins still want to get much more consistency on the man advantage.

Julien agreed that Monday night was their best power play work of the season, but cautioned there will be more ups and downs over the 48-game schedule.

It was a good night for special teams. Our penalty kill again was outstanding. They have a good power play with guys that can shoot, but our PK was very aggressive, said Julien. It was nice to get that early PP goal with a great screen by Looch and good wrister by Chara.

There are going to be nights where its going to look better than others, and there will be nights where its going to be a struggle. But I like what weve done so far with the results. In four out of the five games I feel like weve moved the puck pretty well and hopefully we keep getting results.

David Krejci picked up an assist on Charas power play goal in the first period, and appears to be settling into his role on the opposite point as the 6-foot-9 captain on the first PP unit.

It was good to see. Zee made a good shot but it wouldnt have been possible if Lucic wasnt in front of the net, said Krejci. After that we had pretty good looks and good chances. We have to be happy with getting some goals, but were going to keep working on it so its better and better with each game.

Ancient hockey wisdom dictates that a teams special teams play is acceptable if both the PP and PK units total up to 100 percent, and the Bruins have been well above that while working with a perfect penalty kill unit. The Bs shorthanded crew is now 23-for-23 in kills and finally kicked in with their first shorthanded goal of the season in the first period. Zdeno Chara fed Brad Marchand cross-ice for a one-timer from the right face-off dot, and the Nose Face Killah hammered a shot under the crossbar for a lightning quick score.

Monday night marked the first time since a February 11, 2012 game against the Nashville Predators that the Bruins got special teams scores from both the penalty kill and the power play, but they hope its not the last time this season as they keep digging to improve both units working together in concert.

Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils


Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while waiting to find out which Walking Dead character got brained by Lucille in last season’s cliffhanger. I’m going with Abraham.

*The SI roundtable talks about the future of Jacob Trouba, and where he’ll end up going when his current situation resolves itself.

*P.K. Subban is apparently getting very comfortable in Nashville, and enjoying life in a city with NFL football.

*Fun conversation between Yahoo’s Josh Cooper and Brad Marchand about a whole range of random topics.

*A cool father-son story where they became the goaltending tandem for the Ontario Reign through a series of dominoes falling after Jonathan Quick went down with injury for the Los Angeles Kings.

*Pro Hockey Talk has Taylor Hall serving as exactly what the New Jersey Devils have needed for the last couple of years.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Shaughnessy says that the MLB playoffs couldn’t have played out any worse for the Boston Red Sox.


Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

BOSTON -- One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Much like Charlie Brown was never going to actually kick the football before Lucy pulled it away, it feels like the Bruins are never again going to beat the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. They failed again Saturday night, never holding a lead at any point as they dropped their ninth straight home game to the Habs, 4-2.

Bruins-Canadiens games in Boston have become the hockey version of 'Groundhog Day', as the same patterns emerge over and over again: Montreal's speed forces the Bruins into mistakes with the puck; Habs players draw the B’s into taking bad penalties; Carey Price dominates in goal. It's been that way ever since the last Bruin victory over Montreal at the Garden, on Jan. 12, 2012. To put it perspective, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin were still Bruins back then.

Saturday night's loss, though, had a little added twist: The B's second-period woes, such a problem last year, reared its ugly head again.

“[The second period was] terrible, and that’s where it really hurt us," said Claude Julien. "I thought we played well (in the first period) . . . But the second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn’t make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end, and because of that, it gave them some momentum. And by the end of it, we cheated ourselves a little bit, and pucks ended up in the back of our net . . .

"[When] you give up four goals to Montreal, and you have Price at the other end, it’s pretty hard to beat that team. So we needed to be better . . . [We] shot ourselves in the foot with some real poor mistakes, and we can’t afford to do that against the Montreal Canadiens."

The Bruins were essentially done for after a couple of very typical Boston-Montreal plays went against them in the middle 20 minutes.

The first was a defensive coverage breakdown in the D-zone that allowed both Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher to operate with time and space. Five B’s players simply watched as Gallagher smoked a one-timer from the outside of the left circle that eluded Anton Khudobin.

Then, later in the period, John-Michael Liles misread a play where he pinched deep in the offensive zone and couldn’t control the puck. As a result, Alexander Radulov worked a 2-on-1 with Phillip Danault to skilled perfection on a typical Habs transition play.

"I think our second period has got to be better overall," said Patrice Bergeron. "We talked about them having a good forecheck . . . [but] we didn’t make the easy plays too many times. When you do that, it creates turnovers and you spend more time in your zone than you’d like to."

From there, it was just more of the same. Playing with the lead, Montreal was able to neutralize Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Bergeron never got a shot on goal. Price came up big when he had to, shutting down a couple of Ryan Spooner chances.

And Bruin weaknesses were exposed, things Julien and the coaching staff may have to address. It looks like it’s time to move on from the Joe Morrow/Torey Krug defense pairing; it's simply not working. (Krug, in particular, was a minus-3 and made mistakes all over the ice.) They also may need to switch things up with the forwards, as they're getting zippo offensively from their second and third lines.

To their credit, the Bruins never packed it in. They hung in and made plays in the third period to keep the game close, right up to the 6-on-3 advantage they had at the end. But there are no consolation prizes or moral victories in the Boston-Montreal rivalry, especially when the Habs have made it so one-sided.

To be a true rivalry, you need equal rivals. And the Bruins, especially at home, aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.