Bruins take killer instinct into Habs matchup

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Bruins take killer instinct into Habs matchup

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins developed a killer instinct during the playoffs last year, and they once again can smell blood in the water.

The Bs have weakened and bested a pair of Eastern Conference adversaries over the last two weeks. Pittsburgh announced Kris Letang was out indefinitely the morning of its game with Boston, and then watched Sidney Crosby go back on the shelf after a particularly nasty battle between the two Eastern titans. They're 2-3 since losing to the B's.

And after Zdeno Chara pounded Philadelphia's biggest, baddest player, and then rained goals upon the Flyers' heads, it's not hard to see Philly -- already without Chris Pronger for the season, and now facing the prospect of losing Sean Couturier for a period after he was hit in the head by a teammates' shot on Saturday -- falling into the same kind of tailspin.

All of that has the Bruins close to the only real gift on their Christmas wish list: Sole possession of the Eastern Conferences top spot.

Our goal is to be on top of the Eastern Conference. We want to win the next two games leading up to Christmas and we want to win every game, said Dennis Seidenberg. Our goal is to play well the next two games, win those games and then go out on the road to start against winning run out there."

And the first of those two games is against yet another rival, more in spirit these days than in the standings: The Montreal Canadiens.

You want to be ready for every game, but when youre playing, for example the Flyers . . . theyre a big, physical team and youre so close in the standings, said Zdeno Chara. There is always extra motivation in those games.

"With Montreal its always a rivalry. Sometimes those things help you to get ready for the games.

Montreal is reeling, with 3 wins in its last 10 games and a new head coach in Randy Cunneyworth. Jacques Martin was fired after a coaching tenure that never truly lived up to Montreals great expectations.

The Habs badly need a victory. But they're playing a team that has won 18 of 21 since the beginning of November.

Its something thats out of our control, said Chara when asked about the mess that is Montreal. We know theyre going to be fired up and playing well, but we always have good games against each other.

The Bruins have done an almost flawless job of vanquishing their enemies and closest opponents this season, and that chance presents itself again on Monday night.

Those are the kind of contests the Bruins live for in an 82-game regular season schedule.

You guys in the media get excited about those rivalry games, and so do the players and coaches," said coach Claude Julien. "They are great games to play, and theres no doubt its much better than playing some game against a team in the other conference that youll see once this season. The two points are nice, but it doesnt create the same gap as a four-point game against a team like Montreal.

If the last two months are any indication, the Bruins will be ready for the challenge.

Dupont: If Bruins throw money at Stamkos, they move Krejci

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Kevin Paul Dupont joins Michael Felger on Sports Tonight to give his opinion on whether or not the Boston Bruins should sign Steven Stamkos and what other moves could be coming down the road this offseason.

Hayes: 'I know I've got to bounce back and have a strong year'

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Hayes: 'I know I've got to bounce back and have a strong year'

DORCHESTER –Bruins general manager Don Sweeney spoke last weekend of the need for big winger Jimmy Hayes to step up next season if Loui Eriksson should indeed depart via free agency.

“I think Jimmy had a pretty good start to the year, but he really tailed off when the team needed him most. He should take some responsibility for that,” said Sweeney. “We had a pretty frank discussion about that to challenge him to take his game to another level, and be able to help out a younger player. He played a lot with Ryan Spooner.

“I have to put ownership on Jimmy in terms of saying ‘Hey, I have to take more responsibility. It’s not just about finishing and scoring goals.’ He has the capacity to do that. He gets power play time and net-front time, and he needs to get to the hard areas of the ice with more consistency. It’s an area that he needs to continue to improve upon. We as an organization feel that we need to have players that are driven to get better.”

Hayes heard that loud and clear just as he received the same message during exit interviews with the Bruins back in April, and knows that he needs to simply put more into next season.

Hayes’ numbers dropped from the previous season with the Florida Panthers, and he finished with 13 goals, 29 points and a minus-12 while going through long stretches where he completely disappeared on the ice. That’s a difficult thing for a 6-foot-6 forward to do, but Hayes managed while going weeks at a time without scoring and failing to play the big man’s game around the net on most nights.

The 26-year-old Hayes knows that needs to change for both his personal benefit and for the well-being of the Black and Gold this upcoming season.

“It’s definitely something that’s going to motivate me beyond just already motivating myself [this summer]. We had our own discussions [during exit interviews], and I know I’ve got to bounce back and have a strong season,” said Hayes. “I need to make sure I help my team win, and that’s what it’s all about. I want to be consistent and available every night to try get two points for our team, and get us as an organization back where we want to be.

“We just talked about how the season went, and we were really up-front with each other. We just want to continue to get better and more consistent, and get better through the season rather than have these spurts where you’re putting up numbers. And if you’re not scoring then you’ve got to find other ways to help the team win, and get to those areas where you’re going to get rewarded for going to those hard areas on a consistent basis.”

This isn’t the first time that Hayes has said all the right things about turning around his game, and really, truly living up to the hope he could be a big-bodied factor down low for the Black and Gold tipping, redirecting, screening and shoveling home rebounded pucks from areas all around the front of the net.