Haggerty: Bruins determined to start streaking again

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Haggerty: Bruins determined to start streaking again

WINNIPEG It was bound to happen eventually, and it seemed inevitable it would be in Winnipeg on the second night of road back-to-backs with Tyler Seguin scratched after missing an Xs and Os with Cheerios session with his teammates Tuesday morning.

So it was for a Bruins team that had won 14 out of 15 games and hadnt lost a regulation game since before Halloween.

The Bruins battled through some tired legs and a couple of defensive gaffes courtesy of Joe Corvo, but couldnt find ways to finish off scoring chances in a 2-1 loss to the Jets at the MTS Centre.

The emotion of Mondays statement victory over Sidney Crosby and the Penguins didnt leave much in the Bs gas tank, but the players werent making any excuses after landing in Manitoba during the early morning hours on Tuesday.

You always want to win, and its a little extra frustrating when you felt like you had some pretty good chances, said Andrew Ference. A loss is a loss. Nobody likes it in here and thats obviously what makes us successful.

We werent flying on top of a rainbow when we were winning all those games, so were not going to beat ourselves up over a loss now. We just need to move on.

Winnipegs building proved to be a fearsome ice advantage for the Jets, and the noise after the Jets game-winning goal in the third period could rival any other NHL barn across Canada. So the Bruins will have to prepare for the hostile atmosphere in future meetings with the Jets, and they shouldnt have the same kind of play-finishing issues when Seguin jumps back into the lineup Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.

Boston probably could have actually used Seguins elite finishing abilities among those 39 shots that were snuffed out by Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, or the 0-for-3 performance on the power play that couldnt quite break through.

But they soldiered on without him, and had their chances to pull out points while operating at less than their best. In fact it seemed things had swung in their direction when Shawn Thornton tipped home a Daniel Paille offering in the third period, and tied the game up at 1-1 apiece.

After all the Bruins have outscored opponents by a 40-18 margin in third periods this season and have used the final 20 minutes to bully teams with their strength in both numbers and physical might.

But it wasnt going to happen this time around. Instead old friend Mark Stuart found himself in the middle of a winning sequence when he earned a roughing call from David Krejci in the third period. Stuart quickly turned his back toward a charging Krejci while holding the puck in the corner, and went down hard after his face smacked violently into the glass above the boards.

Bryan Little weaved through a stunned Bs penalty kill unit and managed to squeeze a shot through Tuukka Rasks hockey pants for game-winning goal on a rush off his face-off win, and that was it for the Black and Gold. No stunning heroics and no last-minute goal to push things into overtime for the charity point.

Instead the Bruins felt the sting of an empty loss for the first time in 38 days, and no winning streak can soften the blow for a crew of hockey players that have become accustomed to winning.

It was a loss, but now we need to turn the page and start another streak, said Johnny Boychuk, who endured his share of pain when he took a shot off the knee. We did some positive things. We knew we werent going to win for the rest of the season and we had to lose eventually. But it always sucks to lose.

Whats most impressive about the Bruins is their ability to hang in games even when theyre not close to their best. There hasnt been a single opponent thats outclassed the Bs this season, and six of Bostons nine losses have been one-goal defeats that saw them fall just short.

The loss to Winnipeg doesnt take any luster away from Bostons 15-game run that pushed them all the way to the No. 2 spot behind the Penguins in the Eastern Conference standings. But it does act as a bookend to one lengthy, impressive run by the Black and Gold, and offer a challenge to start another one against the Panthers and Blue Jackets prior to some off-time next week.

The best thing the Bruins can do: bottle up their feelings of frustration and measured anguish after a rare loss to Winnipeg and take it out on their next few opponents with the same precision theyve showcased since the beginning of November.

Now it becomes about proving the Bruins epic 15-game run was the rule rather than the exception.

Claude Julien on David Ortiz: 'Finishing in style, you don't see that very often'

Claude Julien on David Ortiz: 'Finishing in style, you don't see that very often'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It hasn’t been difficult to spot Claude Julien randomly at Fenway Park on a nice summer night in Boston over the past ten years. The Bruins coach doesn’t hide his affection for the Old Towne Team. 

So, Julien didn’t waste much time before sharing his thoughts on the final season for David Ortiz and the celebration of his Hall of Fame-worthy career that’s going on at the Fens this weekend.

It might have been a chore when the rest of the Team Canada coaching staff was watching the Toronto Blue Jackets during the World Cup of Hockey, but Julien never strayed too far away from his Red Stockings.

“He’s finishing in style, and you don’t see that very often,” said Claude Julien of Big Papi, who was sitting with numbers of .316 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI that border on the ridiculous at 40 years old. 

“A lot of times when people retire the game has caught up to them big time. Not him. He doesn’t seem to have missed a beat here. I’m pretty impressed with how he’s handled this year, and what he’s done. If I’m correct he just hit the home run last night for the game-winner.

“But as you know I was in Blue Jays land for about two weeks, so I had to keep a low profile. They were watching the Blue Jays and I’m Canadian too...but I was watching the Red Sox. So, it was healthy competition for our [World Cup] coaching staff.”

The most intriguing part about all is that the best is still yet to come for Ortiz in his farewell tour as he gets one more chance to clutch up in the postseason. It'll give Julien more to marvel at over the next few weeks while showing again why Big Papi will go down as the greatest clutch hitter in the history of Major League Baseball. 

 

Acciari returns from lower body injury to Bruins practice

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Acciari returns from lower body injury to Bruins practice

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It must have been a relatively minor lower body ailment for fourth-line center candidate Noel Acciari as he returned to the training camp ice for regular practice on Saturday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.

Acciari had hobbled off the ice in the third period of Wednesday night’ s preseason loss to the Red Wings with what appeared to be a right leg injury and the Providence College alum wasn’t on the ice the following day for training camp practice. 

But Acciari tested things out with the young players after Friday’s training camp sessions, and then was back in the mix for the Black and Gold full force on Saturday.

That’s good news for the 24-year-old Acciari, who was his usual hard-hitting and energetic self while centering Justin Hickman and Anton Blidh in the loss to the Red Wings.

“I feel good. Ready to go again,” said Acciari. “I wish we could have done a little more out there. It was my first game back out there for a while, but there’s definitely room for improvement.”

Acciari is referencing playing with the puck, and being a little more offensive-minded, as the areas where he wants to improve this season after not showing much prowess in the offensive zone last season. 

Acciari was a tough customer and unafraid to throw his body at even the biggest and strongest opponents in his blue-collar 19-game stint in Boston last season, but he also managed just a single assist along with a minus-4 rating.

So, that’s someplace where he feels he can show a bit more after posting seven goals and 19 points in a half-season for Providence last year.

“Just coming off last year, I was in a more defensive mentality. Now this year with a couple of games under my belt, I have a little more confidence to produce more offensively like I know that I can,” said Acciari. “I think the defensive part of the game and the checking is more my strong suit, but I know I can contribute offensively. As I get more comfortable around the team, I know I can help out producing points, and stuff like that.”

Staying healthy and showing some offensive “stuff” could help Acciari in his battle for an NHL roster spot out of camp where Riley Nash, Dominic Moore (who was pulled from Friday night's lineup vs. Detroit with a minor physical ailment) and Austin Czarnik among others are vying for potential fourth-line center spots.