Haggerty: Frustrated Bruins need to regroup

691426.jpg

Haggerty: Frustrated Bruins need to regroup

WASHINGTON, DC Judging by the long faces, glassy eyes and finger-pointing taking place in the Boston Bruins dressing room following another formulaic playoff performance against the Washington Capitals, the Bs let a game they really wanted slip away.
Boston fired away 45 shots on net and worked to get a handful of chances close to the net, but didnt work nearly hard enough around the cage in a 2-1 loss to the surprisingly willing Capitals at the Verizon Center.
The Caps blocked 12 shots in the third period and showed the kind of blood-and-guts willingness that it takes to win playoff hockey games. The Bruins seemed to recline right back into some of the relaxed habits that have been dogging them since the start of the series.
Clearly there other forces against them as caterwauling Caps owner Ted Leonsis and Washingtons phalanx of fans, coaches, management and players curried a little favor with the league and Washington managed a 3-1 advantage in power plays along with a game-winning PP goal from Alex Semin.
But the bottom line was another postseason game went by with offensive no-shows from David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand. Rich Peverley is the only member of the top six forward fraternity thats made an impact offensively, and both of his goals have come off broken plays.
Krejci stood by his locker with watery eyes and a downcast head, and uttered the words frustration and panic over and over again as he searched for answers. The center said he felt good, but missed connecting on every pass coming his way near the front of the net. Krejci finished with zero shots on net despite a healthy amount of ice time, and seemed stuck in a pit of despair following the game.
I know hes a good goaltender, but we need to relax and do what we do during the regular season, said David Krejci. When we have chances we need to bury them rather than panic. Maybe we panicked too much, I guess? I don't know. I think we had so many chances we could have won the game. Thats the story of the game.
Seguin had chances and six shots on net to go along with it, but his ability to finish off scoring plays which has come and gone during the season has deserted him at the most important moments.
Marchand is a mere shadow of the rabble-rousing offensive playmaker from the regular season, and has been a big disappointment during the first round playoff series. By the end of the game it appeared the Marchand swagger was pretty close to gone, and he was simply firing the puck into Braden Holtbys chest as soon as it was on his stick in the offensive zone.
But perhaps worst of all was Bs goalie Tim Thomas rather pointedly throwing his forwards under the bus. The Bruins goaltender was asked what the Bruins problem was as he saw it, and the 37-year-old gave his position-playing teammates the kind of swift kick in the pants that he usually saves for Obamas health care plan.
"We had a lot of shots. But high-quality scoring chances? We didnt have many of those. You need people in front screening and tipping and that seems to be our problem in this series, said Thomas. We're not (getting bodies in front) enough. We did it in Game 3, but we havent done it consistently in the series."
Thomas was right, of course, but normally the goaltender is a little more circumspect when it comes to calling out his teammates for failing to get the job done. After all, Thomas was cleanly beaten by Semins stand-still wrist rocket from the left face-off dot during a second period power play. So Thomas wasnt better than his 22-year-old counterpart for the Capitals either.
But rather than blame each other for shortcomings in the series, the Bruins need to regroup at home while making some fine-tuning tweaks. Perhaps its time for Claude Julien to go back to the lines the Bruins played with for most of the season rather than forcing together forwards that havent really played with each other all season.
Its not secret that Marchand and Bergeron play better together after two years of success together, and thats what they should return to.
Maybe its time for Jordan Caron to enter into the series and utilize his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame to carve out some space in front of the net for rebounds and tipped pucks. Caron is the closest thing they have to a Poor Mans Nathan Horton, and that seems to be what the Bruins are missing at the moment.
The Bruins remain hopeful they can get on the same page, and find whatever inspired them to actually look like the Stanley Cup champs in Game 3.
Weve been through so many situations throughout these last couple of years, said Johnny Boychuk. We know how to handle it. Being at 2-2 we have the group of guys in here that can battle through anything to get wins.
Its a best of three games series now with two of those games potentially set at TD Garden, and the Bruins know what they must do to win.
Its just a matter now of getting out there and actually doing it now that a great chance to control the series has gone by the boards.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

price_what_we_learned-overlay-master.png

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins . . .

1) David Price isn’t having fun

Boston’s $217 million-dollar arm had another rough outing -- this time against a team that already has 60 losses.

Those are the team’s he’s supposed to dominate.

“It’s been terrible,” Price said on how his season has gone following the loss. “Just awful.”

Price’s mistakes have often been credited to mechanical mishaps this year. Farrell mentioned that following his start in New York, Price spent time working on getting more of a downhill trajectory on his pitches.

But Price doesn’t think his issue is physical.

So it must be mental -- but he doesn’t feel that’s the case either.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those,” Price said when asked which he thought was a factor. “It’s me going out there and making pitches. “

But when it comes down to the barebones, pitching -- much like anything else -- is a physical and mental act.

So when he says it’s neither, that’s almost impossible. It could be both, but it has to be one.

His mind could be racing out on the mound from a manifestation of the issues he’s had throughout the season.

Or it could just be that his fastball isn’t changing planes consistently, like Farrell mentioned.

Both could be possible too, but it takes a certain type of physical approach and mental approach to pitch -- and Price needs to figure out which one is the issue, or how to address both. 

2) Sandy Leon might be coming back to Earth

Over his last five games, Boston’s new leading catcher is hitting .176 (3-for-17), dropping his average to .395.

A couple things have to be understood. His average is still impressive. In the five games prior to this dry spell, Leon went 7-for-19 (.368) But -- much like Jackie Bradley Jr. -- Leon hasn’t been known for his offensive output throughout his career. So dry spells are always tests of how he can respond to adversity and make necessary adjustments quickly.

Furthermore, if he’s not so much falling into a funk as opposed to becoming the real Sandy Leon -- what is Boston getting?

Is his run going to be remembered as an exciting run that lasted much longer than anyone expected? Or if he going to show he’s a legitimate hitter that can hit at least -.260 to .280 with a little pop from the bottom of the line-up?

What’s more, if he turns back into the Sandy Leon he’s been throughout his career, the Red Sox will have an interesting dilemma on how to handle the catching situation once again.

3) Heath Hembree has lost the momentum he gained after being called up.

Following Saturday’s contest, the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after an outing where he went 1/3 of an inning, giving up a run on three hits -- and allowing some inherited runners to score.

Hembree at one point was the savior of the bullpen, stretching his arm out over three innings at a time to bail out the scuffling Red Sox starting rotation that abused it’s bullpen.

His ERA is still only 2.41 -- and this has been the most he’s ever pitched that big league level -- but the Red Sox have seen a change in him since the All-Star break.

Which makes sense, given that hitters have seven hits and two walks against him in his 1.1 innings of work -- spanning four games since the break.

“He’s not confident pitcher right now,” John Farrell said about Hembree before announcing his demotion. “As good as Heath has been for the vast majority of this year -- and really in the whole first half -- the four times out since the break have been the other side of that.”

Joe Kelly will be the pitcher to replace Hembree and Farrell hopes to be able to stretch him out over multiple innings at a time, as well.