Haggerty: Bruins finally find strength in numbers

Haggerty: Bruins finally find strength in numbers
November 2, 2011, 5:54 am
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BOSTON -- There were many buzz words synonymouswith last years Bruins.

But the one used most often, and most complimentary, was depth. Shift after shift, the B'sarrived in attacking waves as the coaches rolled out all four forward groups period after period. The Bruins could wear out more talented opponents with their overwhelming strength in numbers, and their willingness to relentlessly keep pushing.

So it was probably appropriate that 13 different Bruin players cracked the scoresheet and all four forward lines were accounted for in Tuesday nights 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden, which snapped Boston's three-game losing and Ottawas six-game winning streak.The Bruins needed to show something after a 3-7 start, and they did just that against the upstart Sens.

Thats what you want. Thats what made our team successful last year, said coach Claude Julien. I think its important to get some of that and obviously help guys get their confidence, too. When everybody goes out there and contributes in the fashion that they did tonight, its a lot better for the confidence of the whole team.

More importantly, the Bs were dogged and determined enough to ignore wide-open net chances botchedby both Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton in the early going, and didnt shrug their shoulders in weakcapitulation as theyve done too often this season.

Instead they hunkered down and kept attacking with tenacity and determination that trumped the spunky effort from the upstart Sens. It seems the Bs finally broke the spell that had them making the same mistakes over and over again.

The Bruins did some damage on the power play early, lulled Chris Neil and Spezza into taking penalties with equal parts hard work and poise under times of duress, and finally finished off some of the plays that eluded them early in the game. They attacked with 41 shots on net, and didn't ease back once they'd built up a one-goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes.

We took all the frustration and all that stuff that weve been feeling and used to our advantage instead of getting down on ourselves, said Patrice Bergeron. And thats the only way you can get out of those things. You know what, though: its only one game. So were happy but we have a long ways still to go.

Zdeno Chara was a physical presence offensively and defensively, and assisted on a pair of early goals while holding Ottawa'sSpezza and Co. to a minus-2 in the marquee match-up. Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin all played over 20 minutes of iceeach while creating 11 qualityshots, and teaming with Chara and Johnny Boychuk to shut down Ottawas top line.If anything the Bruins were a little too pass-happy in the early going, but started really coming into their own as the game unfolded.

I thought that last year that was one our strengths when we had contributions from every line, at both ends of the ice, said Chris Kelly. That was nice to see tonight.

Speaking of Boychuk, the gifted defenseman once again had his game snap into focus at the exact right time. He was a consistent offensive factor, and scored the game-winning goal with one of his patented bombs from the point after being off the mark early. Milan Lucic snagged his fourth goal in the last five games and terrorized the Ottawa defenseman with his punishing body checks in the first half of the game -- a tactic that always loosens up the opposing defensemen for turnovers later in games.

Tim Thomas was timely with his stalwart goalie play in the second period where he registered only seven saves, but stood up to goal-mouth attacks from Colin Greening and Milan Michalek when the game was still tied.

That doesnt even mention the fourth lines contribution: Quality shifts with equal parts emotion and effectiveness,and an insurance goal from Daniel Paille thrown in, to boot. Its the reason Julien opted for them to start at puck dropTuesday night, and the reason he chose their line after the teams third and fourth goals of the evening as a means toward keeping the momentum solelyin Bostons corner.

There were some down portions of the win, of course. Both Horton and David Krejci continue to struggle. Krejci was slightly better as he tries to climb out of a sluggish start to the season, but Horton is still stuck in neutral with a game that's far from north-south.

But the Bruins were able to overcome any down performances through their strength in numbers, and know that is their ultimate blueprint for success this year and any other year. It worked against the best team in the NHL during the Stanley Cup Finals last season, so it will certainly work against the Ottawa Senators on a Tuesday night in November.

We played a good team game, said Thomas plainly, truthfully and simply.

Whats the key for the Bruins now that they seem to have found their footing?

The Bs need to follow up a nice statement win against the Senators with more strong efforts inback-to-back fashion. They had three singlewins prior to Tuesday, but haven't been able to follow up any of those victories with anothervictoryto get a winning streak going.That needs to change.If the Bruins are set to go streaking for a while, theyre going to need everybody on board as they were Tuesday night in a flashback performance.