Haggerty: Bruins get back to business


Haggerty: Bruins get back to business

BOSTON -- Thursday nights performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs smacked of back to work night for the Boston Bruins.

Game Story: Bruins 6, Maple Leafs 2
Itvery much appearedthe Bs players finally had their minds collectively trained backto the business of hockey for the first time this season, and the results were undeniable with six goals scored, 43 shots on net and a pair of power play strikes. For a team that entered the Leafs game as the lowest goals per game (1.67) offense in the NHL, the Bruins finally managed to find their exhausting workethic for the 6-2 slump-buster of a winning effort over the Leafs at TD Garden.The B's really don't know any other way to compete and work, and they showed again in one night their pathway to hockey success.

You want to get out of that hump, I guess, as quickly as possible, so obviously there's always urgency when things are going like that. You want to get out of the slump and we're proud guys; we want to be on top every night obviously, said Patrice Bergeron. So right now I think it is a good effort, but we've seen it too often in the past six games. You have to be consistent and we need to have a good effort on Saturday against the Sharks as well.

Thats the thing now for a Bruins team thats found their blue collar mojo, and reintroduced themselves to their pre-Stanley Cup routines. The Bruins need to simply work for goals that arent going to arrive mostnightsvia pretty little plays on the ice, and earn everything they receivein this hockey world just as they did last season.

The lines were "new look" after Claude Julien threw the top three forward lines into a blender and pressed down on the high speed mixbutton, but it wasn't the exact dynamics of the lines that made it all work. Itwas all about the Bruins regulars rolling up their sleeves, punching the clock and getting to work. After all, the Bruins dont have the high-end offensive talent to float around and create exotic goal-scoring plays without their blue collar attitude and willingness to pay the price in the dangers areas.

The Bruins need to crowd big bodies in front of the net and engage in liberal use of the turbo skating speed button while speedingpucks into the offensive zone. Theyhad all of those things and more like their hockey pants were aflamewith a different kind of urgency against the Leafs. The Bs to a manknow they need to have their act together by the time November hits on the NHL calendar, and they took a big step in that direction against Phil Kessel and the upstart Leafs.

Its probably not a coincidence that all of the players with letters on their Bs sweaters stepped up with their biggest games of the season, and Shawn Thornton served his role to a tee by trading punches with Colton Orr in exchange for an emotional lift.

Andrew Ference served up three assists in the first 20 minutes and was working the control at the point on the power play like Bruins fans wished Tomas Kaberle could have last year. The dish to Zdeno Chara was a thing of beauty.Speaking ofChara, the B's Captainstepped up to finally crack the Bs offensive ledger with three points and some needed production on the power play.It wasn't difficult to see Chara's 105-mph slapper put the fear of God into Jonas Gustavsson by winding up for a one-timer in the right face-off circle.

Thats a far cry from Charas normal shooting point far away by the blue line. Gustavsson never even saw the shot coming, and could have been excused if he needed a change of underwear after watching Charas heat-seeking missilecoming at him from such close range.

It's so close and obviously that's a goal any time, said Bergeron with a smirk thinking about Chara winding up the hammer so uncharacteristically close to the Toronto net. It's an unbelievable shot and that's a great look from all the guys on the ice to get that opening for 'Z.'

We moved a lot more- we're more active as players on the ice as well -- to get open and to find passing lanes and then shooting. We're not hesitating and we're not thinking. We're just using instincts right now and that's how hockey's played.

Chris Kelly manned things upbetween Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin, and oversaw an
offensive surge within that trio of forwards that produced three-point games for both wingers while opening things up for all involved. That from a two-way defensive pivot that some routinely dismiss when it comes to the offensive end of the ice, and a player that's become a giant leadership influence within the room.Patrice Bergeron set the tone for the other top six forward group by racking up a team-high nine shots, and truly set the leadership tone by bringing his A game to the ice for a full 60 minutes of intense hockey. His top shelf wrister in the third period turned the game from competitive to a smile-filled laugher in no time at all.

It was just about everybody focusing on their game and playing with some energy and desperation in a good way, said Claude Julien. I thought we were determined tonight, really determined as a group, and maybe we needed to play better as individuals. As a team that kind of effort would probably translate into a good team game as well.

The big performances from the extended Bs leadership group, the losses and wins piling up in either side of the ledger after two weeks, and the shuffled up Bs rotation of forwards all spelled to a greater sense of urgency against a Toronto hockey club thats one of the hottest in the NHL just a couple of weeks into the season. It spoke to a group of influential B's players that decided it was time to put the hard hats back on, and start grinding away at the 82-game gauntlet.

Of course Tim Thomas put his imprint on the victory just as seriously and appropriately as the rest of his teammates, and the 37-year-old was at his best in the second period when the Bruins fell asleep for a time.

The mission now for the Bruins with seemingly all 20 players on board for a statement win of sorts just three weeks into October: crush a weakened and weary San Jose Sharks on Saturday night at the Garden to perpetuate some of the consistency thats eluded themafter solid early wins against the Lightning and Blackhawks. The B's need to start piling up wins, and they need to do it now.

You want to get out of that hump, I guess, as quickly as possible, so obviously there's always urgency when things are going like that. You want to get out of the slump and we're proud guys; we want to be on top every night obviously, said Bergeron. So right now I think it is a good effort, but we've seen it too often in the past six games. You have to be consistent and we need to have a good effort on Saturday against the Sharks as well.

Thats the thing now for a Bruins team thats found their work fervor, and reintroduced themselves to their pre-Stanley Cup roots. The motto is simple: the Bruins need to simply work for goals that arent going to arrive via pretty little plays and earn everything they get in this hockey world just as they did last season.The challenge is a little morecomplex:to carry that out consistently for the rest of the season

Bruins hope OT win was sign of things to come offensively

Bruins hope OT win was sign of things to come offensively

BOSTON -- For a team where offense has been a major problem area this season, lighting the lamp four times against the Florida Panthers on Monday night was a welcomed sight for the Bruins indeed.

The Bruins won it in dazzling fashion with a 4-3 overtime win on a David Pastrnak rush to the net after he totally undressed D-man Mike Matheson on his way to the painted area, and then skill took over for him easily beating Roberto Luongo with a skate-off goal.

That was the game-breaker doing his thing and finishing with a pair of goals in victory, and continuing to push a pace that has the 20-year-old right wing on track for more than 40 goals this season.

That would give the Bruins just their fourth 40-goal scorer in the last 25 years of franchise history (Glen Murray in 2002-03, Bill Guerin in 2001-02 and Cam Neely in 1993-94), and mark one of the bigger reasons behind an expected offensive surge that may just be coming for a Black and Gold group currently ranked 23rd in the league in offense.

They just hope that the four strikes vs. Florida is indeed a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the season after serving as just the eighth time in just 26 games this season that they scored more than two goals.

“[There have been] a lot of tight games and low-scoring games, you’re right. It’s good, but as a goalie, I’m not happy when I let in three goals, ever. But it’s great to see that scoring support,” said Tuukka Rask. “When you get four goals, you expect to win, and a lot of times when we get three, I expect to win. It’s great to see [an uptick in scoring].”

So what is there to be optimistic about from a B’s offensive perspective aside from Pastrnak blowing up for a couple more goals to keep pace among the NHL league leaders with Sidney Crosby and Patrick Laine?

Well, the Bruins are starting to see results from crashing to the front of the net, attacking in the offensive zone and finally finishing off plays after serving as one of the best puck possession teams in the league over the first few months.

Just look at how the goals were scored, and how the Bruins are working in closer to the net rather than settling for perimeter plays.

The first goal on Monday night was a result of Tim Schaller crashing down the slot area for a perfectly executed one-timer feed from David Krejci. Similarly David Pastrnak was hanging around in front of the net in the second period when a no-look, spinning Brad Marchand dish from behind the net came his way, and he wasn’t going to miss from that range against Roberto Luongo. Then David Backes parked his big body in front of the Florida net in the third period, and redirected a Ryan Spooner shot up and over Luongo for the score that got the Bruins into overtime.

It’s one of a couple of goals scored by Backes down low recently, and his third goal in the last five games as he heats up with his playmaking center in Krejci. The 32-year-old Backes now has seven goals on the season and is on pace for 26 goals after a bit of a slow start, and the offense is coming for that line as they still search for balance in their two-way hockey play.

“A few more guys are feeling [better] about their games, and know that we’re capable of putting a crooked number up like that. It bodes well moving forward,” said Backes. “But you can’t think that we’re going to relax after the effort that we put in. We’ve got to skill to those dirty areas and still get those second and third chances, and not take anything off during those opportunities. It’s got to go to the back of the net.

“With the way Tuukka has played, and our defense has been stingy and our penalty kill has been on, four goals should be a win for our team. It hasn’t always been easy for us this year. It’s been a process, but I think you’re starting to see the things that you need to see in order for us to score goals. We’re going to the front of the net and getting extended offensive zone time, and then you find a few guys like Pasta in the slot. That’s a good recipe for us.”

Then there’s Ryan Spooner, who enjoyed his best game of the season on Monday night and set up the B’s third goal of the game with his speed and creativity. It was noticeable watching Spooner play with his unbridled skating speed and creative playmaking, and it made a discernible difference in Boston’s overall offensive attack against Florida. It’s something that Claude Julien is hoping to see more of moving forward from Spooner after recent trade rumors really seemed to spark the 23-year-old center, and also knocked some of the inconsistency from a player that’s extremely dangerous offensively when he’s “on.”

“It’s obvious that if Ryan wants to give us those kinds of games, then we have lots of time for him. When he doesn’t we just can’t afford to give him that kind of ice time,” said Julien. “There are games where he hasn’t been as involved, and it’s obvious and apparent to everybody that when he’s not getting involved then he’s not helping our team. When he is playing the way he did yesterday, we can certainly use that player more than not. We’d love to see him get consistent with those kinds of games.”

So while it’s clear the Bruins aren’t completely out of the woods offensively and there are still players like Patrice Bergeron sitting below their usual offensive numbers, it’s also been a little mystifying to watch Boston struggle so much offensively given their talent level.

The Black and Gold fully realized that potential in taking a tough divisional game from Florida on Monday night, and they hope it’s something to build on as the schedule doesn’t let up at all in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, Dec. 6: The Bruins-Panthers connection

Tuesday, Dec. 6: The Bruins-Panthers connection

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while Dave Dombrowski is collecting stars and talent over at Fenway Park. I dig it.

*Interesting piece about switching teams in the NHL and leaving behind old allegiances when the job calls for it.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Harvey Fialkov looks at the connections between the Bruins and the Florida Panthers, and more specifically with the Panthers and the Boston-area.

*A rumor round-up across the NHL including the humorous nugget that the Bruins are looking to move Jimmy Hayes. Yes, they are looking to move Hayes. They are begging some other NHL team to take on the player and the contract for somebody that has one point since last February. It’s not happening.

*Escrow is at the heart of the next negotiation between the NHL and the NHLPA, and I really thought it was going to be years before I’d have to even think about the CBA again.

*Tough break for the Florida Panthers losing Keith Yandle for a long period of time after he was injured last night vs. the Bruins. FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Halford has the story at Pro Hockey Talk.

*Wild coach Bruce Boudreau talks his “bucket list”, which includes a lot of movies and even a stint as a movie reviewer for the Manchester Union Leader back in the day.

*Sounds like Pat Maroon might want to sit out the next few plays after calling hockey a “man’s game” among other things.

*For something completely different: Yup, I’m pretty okay with the Red Sox blowing up the prospect cupboard for Chris Sale.