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' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation


Bruins' Zboril uses criticism and Twitter hate as motivation

BRIGHTON -- It’s easy to see that Jakub Zboril , one of the Bruins' 2015 first-round pick, has come a long way in a year.

“I feel more comfortable,” said Zboril. “After last year, when all of the people saying something about what they didn’t like about me, it really pushed me forward. I told myself I wanted to be in better shape and so I worked really hard at it.”

The 19-year-old wasn’t in very good shape for last season's training camp after coming back from a knee injury, and that carried over into a junior season for the Saint John Sea Dogs (6 goals and 20 points in 50 games). That was a drop from his 13 goals and 33 points in 44 games prior to hearing his name called by the B’s on draft night.

Zboril was back at peak effectiveness in the playoffs for the Sea Dogs with a couple of goals and 10 points in 17 games, but the chain of events caused some to wonder if the Bruins had drafted something of a bust.

It seems ludicrous, considering Zboril is a 19-year-old talented enough to be selected 13th overall in the entire NHL draft, and even more so now that he’s showing much more in his second camp with Boston. It was some good and some bad for Zboril in his preseason debut against Columbus on Monday with a misplay leading to a goal against, but Zboril also kicked off the transition pass that helped the Bruins score their first goal of game.

“From last year I think he’s made big strides,” said assistant coach Jay Pandolfo. “He’s a young kid that’s only 19 years old, and he’s going to keep getting better. So that’s what you want. The structure in his game and the overall attitude [is better]. He was a little young last year. He’s in better shape. He’s done a lot of things that we got on him for last year, and he’s taken it and listened, he’s working hard. He’s done a good job.”

It’s a long shot for Zboril to crack the B’s roster this fall, so he’s likely headed back to Saint John for another junior hockey season after watching fellow prospect Thomas Chabot get a lot of the No. 1 D-man playing time last season. He quickly shot down any possibilities of playing in Europe rather than going back to the Quebec Major Junior League, and said there could still be plenty to learn in his final junior season.

“Right now where I am, I can just learn from myself and pushing myself,” said Zboril, of going back to junior. “What I can take from last year is that my role on the team changed, and I had to be more of a shutdown D. I had to show my defensive abilities, so I improved a lot from the year before. I think I can be more of a defensive defenseman too, so there’s that.”

Still, the so-so season last year had its impact in a positive fashion with Zboril really stepping up his game. But it’s also had its drawbacks as the Czech-born defenseman was forced to deactivate his Twitter account because of the harsh criticism and messages he was getting from hockey fans. Disappointingly, Zboril said most of it was coming from people in Boston that claim to be Bruins fans, and that it was like “people just spitting on you.”

“It was really pushing me down a lot,” said Zboril. “After some games when you know you weren’t playing really good, then you go on Twitter and you just see . . . people just spitting on you. So I had to delete it.”

Zboril said he’s much happier since getting off social media. But it’s a shame that a bright young prospect’s first impression of his future NHL city was the flaming dumpster of keyboard warriors that should forever be known as “Bruins Hockey Twitter.”

Wednesday, Sept. 28: Ex-Bruin Ruzicka in hot water


Wednesday, Sept. 28: Ex-Bruin Ruzicka in hot water

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully ensconced in the Bruins' second exhibition game, on tap for tonight. 
-- It’s awesome to see Wayne Gretzky back in the mix with the NHL, and serving as “official ambassador” for the NHL’s centennial celebration. 
-- Tough times for former Bruins forward and former Czech national coach Vladimir Ruzicka, who was fined for some shady, fraudulent activity

-- Andrew Shaw announced his presence in Montreal with authority. The only thing missing from this WWE-type performance was a Hulkster hand to his ear before the threw a punch. 
-- A sad column from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Donnie Brennan, who says it’s time for Clarke MacArthur to retire after all the concussions. I remember writing the exact same thing about Marc Savard five or six years ago before he ultimately took one last big hit and retired. 
-- It sounds like old friend Vladimir Sobotka is going to stick in the KHL, and isn’t coming back to the St. Louis Blues as many suspected. 
-- For something completely different: A pretty fun Lyft commercial featuring David Ortiz, but how the hell did these people not recognize him?