Haggerty: Bruins offensive outage taking hold

Haggerty: Bruins offensive outage taking hold
December 9, 2011, 6:56 am
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BOSTON -- If Thursday nights game against the Florida Panthers was used as a temperature check for the Bruins as to whether the team is running hot or cold, things are getting a bit chilly on Causeway Street.

The Bruins could do nothing wrong in November and carried that over into the first two games of December, but theyve now put together back-to-back uninspired offensive efforts in a two-game losing streak. The Bruins hit five posts and missed on a number of early chances to put some goals up on the board, and ended up dropping a 2-0 decision to the Panthers behind a 40-save effort from Jose Theodore.

There were excuses if the Bruins wanted to take the out, but every Bs skater admitted they could have been better in some area or department.

In the end we just didnt bear down hard enough to get lucky for those posts to go in, said Dennis Seidenberg, one of five Bruins to hit the pipe in their defeat. So we just have to be a little bit heavier on our sticks and just bury those chances.

Anytime Theodore stands on his head it conjures up images from fruitless playoff experiences against the Montreal Canadiens, but truth be told this new, improved Panthers team reminds of that first scrappy Bruins team under the watch of Claude Julien. Theyre not the most offensively gifted roster particularly after dealing David Booth to the Vancouver Canucks but they play sound defense under new head coach Kevin Dineen and Craig Ramsay, and they play a hard brand of hockey.

So Theodore and a willing, able Panthers defense that packed tightly around the net deserve credit, but this is more about what the Bruins are suddenly not doing again. Theyve scored one goal in the last 120 minutes against the Jets and Panthers, and theyve gone 0-for-7 while losing the hunger to finish around the net.

Weve had a little bit of a power outage here, said Tim Thomas, who made 28 saves in the loss. But thats to be expected when wed been scoring at as good a clip as we had been.

Milan Lucic had a golden scoring chance in the third period all alone in the high slot, but Theodore made the snapping glove save on the shot. Lucic was shaking his head after the game, but it was indicative of the Florida netminder improving from a bevy of rebounds early in the game.

It was definitely a good save by him. Theodore made a lot of good saves today, said Lucic, whose turnover and passive back-checking ending up leading to Tomas Kopeckys game-winning goal for the Panthers in the third period. For us we have to get back that killer instinct. When we get opportunities to make sure we finish them off and bury them.

Bodies arent willing to step in front of the net on long shots from the point, rebounds are bouncing harmlessly away from the net and the Bruins are getting maddeningly passive when they have the choice to attack the net.

We had about 40 shots on net, but I thought we forced a lot of plays where we could have taken it to the net. I dont think our decision-making was the best at times, said Julien. We certainly didnt make it easy for ourselves. We hit four or five posts. You can say what you want about those, but youve got to find ways to bury goals.

I think weve got to do a better job of that. I dont think that were driving to the net as well as we have in the past. Thats kind of slipped in the last little while, so weve got to try and do that a little bit better. We need to get our noses dirty around the net area again.

The concerning part now is that the Bruins suffered their offensive slowdown with Seguin in the lineup. There was an excuse for the Bs to lollygag in Winnipeg on the second night of back-to-back road games with Seguin chewing dip in the press box with the Bruins coaching staff.

But Seguin was back in the lineup and seemingly heavily motivated to respond after getting scratched by the club, but it seemed like the team took an October-style collective snooze against their closest competition in the Eastern Conference. The loss dropped the Bruins to third in the Eastern Conference with the Bs trailing the upstart Florida club by a single point, but still comfortably within the playoff picture.

Its no wonder the results are different now than the Bs 12-0-1 month of November. The Bruins have become comfortable and complacent with their position in the middle of the pack, and the downside of that cycle is approaching. Lucic finished with two shots on net and a minus-2 in the limp offensive performance, and said its time for the team to get back into the winning mindset that carried them for more than a month.

Weve done a pretty good job getting shots and scoring chances. But thats all they are if you dont get results. I think the main thing right now for us is we cant get down on ourselves; we cant get frustrated, said Lucic. We have to pick ourselves back up and start over again. We have to remember what got us those fourteen wins in fifteen games.

Thats what should be our focus right now and not let frustration creep into our game just because weve had trouble these last two games.

Its only a mini-slump after two games for the Bruins, but they learned full well in October that things can get badly out of hand if they dont reverse trends and put a stop to it. Bostons mission, should they choose to accept it, is to right things and generate some breakthrough offense Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.