Bruins still searching for stability on defense

Bruins still searching for stability on defense
April 5, 2013, 9:45 am
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BOSTON -- The Bruins still have some work to do defensively despite getting wins in back-to-back games for the Black and Gold.

The Bruins pulled off a 1-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night behind 40 saves from Tuukka Rask and a game-winning goal from Jaromir Jagr, so the sold out crowd at TD Garden went home happy.

That’s exactly what happened to the Bruins over the last couple of games as they’ve allowed a combined 87 shots on goal in the last two regulation games while winning both contests. Much of it can be attributable to the Bruins missing their two top defensive centers with Chris Kelly (broken left tibia) and Patrice Bergeron (concussion) out of the lineup. Claude Julien indicated that he’s seen some troubling patterns defensively this season, and that included on Thursday night in their seventh one goal game in their last 10 contests.

“A lot of things defensively [are going wrong]. We had some bad line changes in the second period. A lot of things that we used to take pride in have slipped away from our game a little bit. We’ve got to bring that back to our play,” said Claude Julien. “It’s changing at the wrong times, teams coming up the ice in outnumbered situations…a lot of that stuff.

“[We’re] not putting the pucks in deep when there’s nowhere to go, [and we’re] still forcing plays. Those are all bad habits that I’ve seen that have crept into our game lately and have given teams more shots. Having said that they had 17 shots in the first period – they were shooting from everywhere, so look at that scoring chances. If they’re going to shoot from coming in off the wing and throwing everything at the net, then they were looking to see if Tuukka [Rask] was sharp or not. If that’s the case, I think he got warmed up pretty good and did a pretty good job for the rest of the game.”

Zdeno Chara was the only real ballast point for the defense and held things together in his 25 plus minutes of ice time. In fact it was Chara that hustled back to break up a rush in the defensive zone, and that set up his stretch pass leading to the Jagr goal at the other end of the ice.

Perhaps Kelly will jump back into the lineup this weekend against first place Montreal to give the Bruins some stability down the middle of the ice defensively. That might just stabilize some of the defensive miscues and bad habits that have clearly crept into Boston’s defensive game.