Haggerty: Bruins look to snap funk vs. Habs

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Haggerty: Bruins look to snap funk vs. Habs

WILMINGTON If anybody can bring the Boston Bruins out of their early-season funk its the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens.The flopping, condescending members of Habs nation drop into the Hub for a much anticipated home-and-home series with the Bruins, and that always brings the best out of a B's team that can fall asleep against lesser opponents. "I would hope that that would be the case. Certainly that's come to mind when I look at the schedule. We've got enough games that for whatever reason motivate us: I look at Toronto and you have the whole Kessel thing and what's gone down there and the Chicago they've won the cup before. We've had some good games when there's a reason to be motivated," said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. "I would hope that that would be the case against Montreal."They're rivals. We've had some real good games and series with them and all that history last year. There's always a reason to play well against Montreal. I would hope that that happens again in the next two games."Unfortunately the Habs are looking at the Black and Gold in exactly the same fashion as theyre sitting on a 2-5-2 record that got Montreal assistant coach Perry Pearn fired on Wednesday afternoon. Pearn was the power play architect for a Habs team that's one of the few in the NHL worse than the Bruins with a 4-for-37 start to the season, and he was shown the door after two years of PP struggles.Habs head coach Jacques Martin is on the hot seat as well in Montreal, and the firing of an assistant is clearly a shot across the Canadiens bow that things need to change or the entire coaching staff might be next. So the Habs are in just as bad a spot as the Bruins less than a month into the new hockey year.

Both teams are in desperate need for wins to help dust themselves off and get into the Northeast Division fray after a full month of hockey, and both teams havent come close to living up to their preseason billing. Nobody could have expected that the loser of the first HabsBruins match of the year will be residing in the Northeast Division basement, but that's simply the way it is while battling vastly improved teams like the Maple Leafs and Sabres.

Anybody who is in a position like they are or we are should be hungry, said Claude Julien. So I dont know why they should be any hungrier than we are. Were not doing that great ourselves.

Many of the players in the Boston dressing room are looking forward to squaring off against a Habs team everybody feels strongly about it, and it could be the same kind of good effort Boston was able to summon for common enemies like Tampa Bay, Chicago and Toronto already this season.

Except for Brad Marchand, that is.

I didnt know that we had a home and home . . . just kidding, said Marchand with mock seriousness about the Bruins-Habs rivalry that always draws mega media attention to the hockey games. Well see if something brews up in the first one and carries over into the second one.

By no means do we want to help their team out. Were not trying to get anybody fired or anything like that, but we want to make sure we do our best to get the wins while were totally focused on that.

Bs players like Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron had some of their best moments against the Habs during the playoffs last season, and it could be the perfect spot for all three players to permanently dump the frustrated and hangover questions if they can simply beat down against the Canadiens.

But for Claude Julien the head-to-head grudge match against the Canadiens isnt about a rivalry that will solve his teams woes, or the spark needed to light Bostons fire for the rest of the year. Instead the Bruins coach saw a pair of ancient NHL rivals that will both be playing with great desperation given how each team badly needs a victory, and need to worry more about themselves than anything else.

Everybody seems to look at things in their own way. Its a great rivalry, but for me it only matters who comes out with the win, Julien said. We have to understand that we need to get ourselves winning on a more consistent basis, and its as simple as that."Two teams that hate each other starved for two points with back-to-back changes to land damaging punches against the other. That's actually about as compelling as it gets during the NHL regular season, and should be the perfect "next chapter" in the BruinsHabs rivalry that's as good as it ever was.

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats