Bruins still unhappy with defensive effort

Bruins still unhappy with defensive effort
April 9, 2013, 1:30 am
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BOSTON -- While the Bruins rolled out their best offensive performance of the year with a season-high six goals Monday night, there was also plenty of talk about work in the defensive zone that still needs improvement.

The Bruins allowed 40-plus shots for the third time in their last four games during their 6-2 win over the Hurricanes, and were outshot by an 11-2 margin to start things up in the first period.

“I don’t think we’re the best we can be in that [defensive] area,” said goaltender Tuukka Rask. “Especially today, a couple letdowns there. Still, we’ve been pretty solid defensively; that’s our bread and butter . . . Every team goes through phases like [this]. I don’t blame the guys because they’re trying . . . sometimes you just don’t have it.”

On the one hand, the Bruins shook up their lines and found a way to spread out the offense to the four new forward groups. But they also experienced major difficulty breaking the puck out of their zone against heavy Carolina pressure.

What did a notoriously harsh self-critic like Dennis Seidenberg think of Boston’s defensive efforts?

“I think you can judge it yourself," he said. "If you look at the first period, we were under a lot of pressure and we just couldn’t get the puck out of our zone with our passing play. We just have to get sharper, support ourselves a little bit better, and then everything is going to come.

“We’re getting into that phase of the season that we have to get sharp for the playoffs, and we only have, I think, 10 games left now. It comes down to the wire for us to get into playing playoff hockey, and just playing that style of hockey makes you successful going into the postseason.”

On the positive end, the Bruins got better defensively as the game went along and Rask covered Boston’s difficulties with a brilliant 40-save effort, his third straight excellent performance.

There’s a balance between the Bruins finding the offense they need and clamping out defensively the way they'd like. They weren’t quite there yet against Carolina, but their coach hopes they’re on the right track.

“One thing we wanted was more offense, so obviously we got that tonight," said Claude Julien. "I thought, in the offensive zone we did a pretty good job. Now it’s a matter of combining both with some better defensive play. I didn’t think we were very good in that area. We were not at our best defensively, but [Carolina] is a team that will expose you even more with their aggressive forecheck sitting right on top of you.

“It exposed us a little bit tonight, no doubt about that. But we’ve got to get better in that area. Tuukka really played a solid game for us tonight, and probably covered a lot of the mistakes and the damage that could have been done.”

Amazingly the Bruins are 3-0-0 in the three recent games when they’ve allowed 40 or more shots to the opposition, so perhaps things are a little overstated with the work needed in their own zone. But they do need to get better before they're truly ready to go for the playoffs, which begin in just three weeks.