Haggerty: Bruins need to go back to simple, basic mindset

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Haggerty: Bruins need to go back to simple, basic mindset

WILMINGTON, Mass. A nice, fresh, four-day All-Star break was supposed to recharge the Boston Bruins' worn-down batteries.

Thats not exactly how it played out Tuesday night against Ottawa in the first game out of the break, however.

A healthy level of fatigue and road weariness were legit alibis for the team prior to the break, but that isnt a valid excuse after most of the players had just come back from five days off.

Coach Claude Julien said its time for his team to get to the heavy two-way game that was dominating opponents in November and December.

Were looking for reasons why our team is playing as well as it should be," said Julien. "I think its just a matter of working on our game thats slipped away. Were in a bit of a funk right now where our game isnt as good as it can be. Were trying to work out of it and pick up the pace of the game to where it should be.

"Defensively our game isnt very good right now. Were doing a lot of running around. It takes only one guy to start all of that and it throws everybody else off. We need to look at Thursday against Carolina as an opportunity to put the clocks on the right time again. Its the opportunity that we want to seize tomorrow.

The good news is that the Bruins are strong enough to still extract two points from lesser opponents when theyre struggling to fire on full cylinders. But the bad news is that its going to catch up with them if they keep dipping for long stretches throughout games.

On Tuesday night the Senators dominated the second period, outshooting the Bruins by a 13-6 margin. The Bruins have allowed 36 goals in their last 11 games, dating back to their Jan. 7 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, and are only 6-4-1 record over that span.

Its not us focusing on what theyre doing to us at all, said Gregory Campbell, who has centered a fourth line thats been alternately good and bad this year. Its moreso us focusing on our game and bringing to the table what we can. Things have slipped in here and thats no secret to anybody. Claude has been realistic with us. Were not playing up to the potential of what were capable of. Theyre done with their job as players

Its no secret. We just have to play the game like we did in the months of November and December, and we should be all good. There are ups and downs to every season, but a good team doesnt have to find an excuse.

Within that 11-game stretch have been playoff-worthy efforts against the Canucks, Flyers and Rangers, which showed exactly how good the Bs can be when the mood strikes them. But the dog days of the NHL season are clearly hitting all of the clubs, including Boston, and thats a hurdle the B's will have to overcome with some serious challenges awaiting them in the next few weeks.

Milan Lucic, who blasted his 17th goal of the season in Tuesday nights win, said the best thing the Bruins coaching staff could do is provide optimism and positive reinforcement when confidence isnt at an all-time high.

Weve got to take a positive frame of mind," said Lucic. "Weve got to start feeling positive, thinking positive, feeling confident about ourselves and trusting one another. I think thats one of the things that Claude said in intermission against the Senators. Weve just got to get back to thinking positive and not being frustrated more than anything.

Perhaps the best challenge is Carolina, which has had Bostons number all season. The 'Canes are 3-0 against the Bruins, who know that containing Eric Staal and attacking Cam Ward with heavy interior pressure are two of the biggest factors in stopping Carolina.

We really havent played well against them at all. Maybe if we did then Id feel something different, said Julien. Thats not to take anything away from them. Some teams tend to have confidence against other teams over the course of a season, and that appears to be the case with Carolina.

Whether its against the Hurricanes or the Sabres at home this week or during an 11-day trip later this month through Montreal, Winnipeg, St. Louis and Minnesota, among other NHL destinations the Bs have to start getting their stuff together again.

If not, then the mistakes will really begin to develop into a problem.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.