Haggerty: Looks like 'malaise' is perfect word for B's

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Haggerty: Looks like 'malaise' is perfect word for B's

BOSTON -- Three days ago Peter Chiarelli openly wondered if malaise was too strong a word to describe what his team was currently battling in the wake of Stanley Cup greatness.

After watching the Bruins drop a 2-1 game to the hated Habs at TD Garden Thursday night, lowering them to 3-6 on the season and dead last in the Eastern Conference standings, Chiarelli might want to rethink his assessment.

The Bruins reached some of their modest objectives for the game by scoring first for the first time in seven games, and they actually scored a power-play goal despite not having any player with a Black and Gold sweater actually touch the puck.

But the Bruins once again looked like a team shooting pucks at a net front shrink-wrapped in plastic wrap, and fell asleep for an entire period after a nice start had bought them a rare lead in the first month of the season.

Its something that we are working on addressing daily, said goaltender Tim Thomas. We realize we need to start putting wins in the win column. Were going to try our best to make that happen.

So whats it like going from NHL penthouse last June to Eastern Conference outhouse after the first month of the new season? For Claude Julien, its akin to thumbing the pages of a Stephen King novel, or waking up in a cold sweat after an evening being chased around the ice by Dave Semenko.

I dont know if I imagined any of this stuff right now. Id probably get nightmares thinking about how were playing right now more than anything else, said the embattled Bs coach, who is running out of answers with a team alternating between white-knuckle frustration and nonchalance. Its more about our team right now. I dont care where we are in the standings. What I care about is how we play, and right now, were not playing at all to the level we should be.

Much could be made of a poorly executed Adam McQuaid pass in the third period that was intercepted and turned into the game-winning strike by Tomas Plekanec after McQuaid blocked the Montreal centers first shot.

But its difficult and patently unfair -- to pin the loss on a defenseman making his return to the lineup after missing two weeks with a headneck injury. The evenings defeat and the month-long funk arent about a couple of individual mistakes here or there that are killing the team.

Its about so many other things that speak to a team-wide plague affecting many different players and areas at once, and a team that badly needs some kind of rallying point to rally around during a downbeat season.

It was about a second period where the Bruins were outshot by an 18-9 margin and looked like a hockey club that wanted it a lot less than their fellow Les Habitants cellar dwellers in the Northeast Division. It's about a Bruins power play strategythat's again shooting blanks, and managed only a feeblethree shots on Carey Price in six different changes with the man advantage.

It was about a Bs team that continues to struggle finishing off offensive plays, and ranks 20th in the NHL averaging 2.22 goals per game.

Its about a fresh-legged Bruins team thats managed to lose two out of three games to opponents on the second night of back-to-back games, and is frittering away a distinct early season home-ice advantage by dropping five out of their first seven games on the TD Garden ice.

Its about a team that seems to have splintered a little bit without an experienced, steady voice of experience in Mark Recchi, who seemed able to consistently rally his teammates together during times of strife.

Its about a desperation play by Raphael Diaz diving across the Montreal crease to smother a Patrice Bergeron scoring attempt on a wide-open net and displaying the kind of lunatic-fringe urgency the Bruins havent had enough of in the first nine games.

There are players getting there on an occasional basis, but the Bruins arent good enough to win if they dont have nearly all their players skating with the same passion, purpose and energy.

Some of the Bruins assumed that the sight of the CH jerseys invading their home ice would snap them out of their seasonal funk.

But that didnt quite work, either, once the Bs entered the second-period slumber party and started sleeping the game away against an opponent that should have been wracked with fatigue.

The Bruins seem to be done denying theres a problem, and thats a good first step. Instead theyre intent on fixing thing that have broken down inside their dressing room, and finding a way to marry together their physical execution and mental focus into full 60-minute efforts.

Individually, David Krejci is a team-worst minus-5 on the season and looks completely lost between passive invisibility and forcing things way too much in a futile attempt to get the feel back into his playmaking game. Nathan Horton was once again an invisible man where he was a Game 7 hero just a few months ago.

So many Bs players look nothing like their Stanley Cup selves.

Right now its about finding answers and not getting frustrated or down on ourselves. Were character guys in here and we need to show it, said Bergeron, who was credited with the only goal of the game for the Bruins. We need to find a way. Were obviously not happy or satisfied.

Being in last place isnt something we would have expected at all. Weve done it ourselves. We cant put the blame on anything but ourselves, and now weve just got to do the work to get back and find our game. It starts in the room and talking about it. We need to find ways to be more prepared and realize who were up against. We cant say that its a long year. We need to turn this around if we dont want to get behind the eight ball.

Chiarelli said that one Stanley Cup-winning team told him their particular hangover lasted for an excruciating 20 games, but the Bruins might not have that kind of slack this season. Already the Bruins stand a full 12 points behind the Eastern Conference leaders in Pittsburgh, and the season hasnt even moved into the second month of play.

The bad news: things become extremely road-game heavy in the second half of the year.

Perhaps the reeling Bruins need to pull a move like Montreals decision to jettison assistant coach Perry Pearn that sparked a two-game winning streak this week. Or perhaps some of Chiarellis inquisitive trade phone calls to opposing GMs will yield some kind of skill forward that can help an offensively challenged bunch and finish off some of Tyler Seguins setups.

With each passing game that the Bruins dont get the results, the goals, and anything remotely resembling last years bunch of Cup winners, the odds of permanent alterations to the teams fabric become more of a certainty -- no matter how reluctant everyone is to mess with a proven winner.

Matt Beleskey out six weeks with a right knee injury

Matt Beleskey out six weeks with a right knee injury

BOSTON – Some key Bruins players have missed a handful of games here or there already this season, but only this week did they suffer one of their first major injuries to a key player that will knock him out for nearly two months. 

Matt Beleskey will miss roughly six weeks with an injury to his right knee after the feisty forward was caught with a hip check by Tyler Fedun near center ice in Buffalo over the weekend.  Beleskey tried to instinctively sidestep the oncoming attack, but instead his lower half caught the brunt of the big collision with a young Sabres attacker. 

Instead Fedun caught Beleskey’s right leg with his hip check, and the gritty Bruins winger was knocked out in the first period of last weekend’s win over the Sabres. 

Beleskey was spotted walking with a bit of a limp during and after Boston’s 4-3 OT win against the Florida Panthers on Monday night, and armed with what looked to be a giant brace or cast on his right leg. It’s clearly a bummer for Beleskey that he’ll now miss a large chunk of time due to a freak injury, and the Bruins have to be disappointed at the timing of it all given how well Beleskey has been playing lately. 

The injury certainly opens up the third line left wing spot for a player like Ryan Spooner, who has struggled to find his right place in the NHL, or a player like Frankie Vatrano as he gets over the hump in his recovery from foot surgery.

Beleskey has skated in plenty of games with Boston in 2016-17, producing two goals and three assists for five points with 23 penalty minutes in what’s been better described as “bedlam”  after a slow start to the regular season. 

Julien: Pastrnak 'coming into his own,' has been Bruins' 'best forward'

Julien: Pastrnak 'coming into his own,' has been Bruins' 'best forward'

BOSTON – The Bruins are running out of superlatives for 20-year-old David Pastrnak at this point. 

The right winger continued his torrid goal-scoring pace in a breakout season with the B’s by scoring a couple of goals, including a dazzling overtime game-winner, in a 4-3 OT win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. 

Pastrnak now has 15 goals scored in 21 games this season for the Bruins, and has matched career-high for goals scored in a single season already with nearly three quarters of the season still left to be played. Only Sidney Crosby and Patrik Laine have scored more goals than Pastrnak in the NHL this season, and it’s a scary thought to imagine where the 25th ranked Bruins offense would be without their ascending superstar from the Czech Republic. 

Certainly the Bruins wouldn’t have taken two points from the Panthers without him: Pastrnak ended the overtime session quickly when he wheeled up and out of the offensive zone after getting the puck to David Krejci, and then gathered speed before taking the puck from Krejci, blowing the doors off Florida D-man Mike Matheson with a couple of moves and then easily beating Roberto Luongo with a game-winning goal. It was a highlight reel, electric overtime game-winner by any measure, but it’s also the kind of thing that’s started to become routine for an offensive player with as much speed, skill and creativity as anybody currently playing in the NHL. 

“He’s coming into his own, I think. There’s no doubt about that confidence wise, it’s at its highest right now and rightfully so. I think when you look at him skate – and not only in the goal, but even before the goal – he went after that puck to get control of it before that goal even happened,” said Julien. “So once you’ve got control and he moved it around and then got it into Krech’s [David Krejci] hands, at that point when he came back from circling just in the neutral zone a little bit, he had caught their defenseman flat-footed. 

“With that speed I guess there’s not much that D could have done, but what a great move. Obviously taking the time to lift the puck up was pretty impressive – especially that last move. So a nice goal and a great way for us to finish with that win. I think he’s been our best forward since the beginning of the year. So, no doubt it’s nice to see him growing the way he is right now.”

The second period goal was just as impressive for Pastrnak for all kinds of different reasons. The young right wing started a puck possession in the corner when he battled to hold onto the puck from his knees, and eventually worked possession up to Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron fired and missed wide on his chance at the net, but Brad Marchand grabbed the loose puck and uncorked a no-look, spinning pass to Pastrnak waiting in front of the net. 

The natural born scorer fired a laser blast past Luongo and temporarily gave the Bruins the lead in a seesaw game between Boston and Florida. All three of the forwards on the Bergeron line touched the puck on that scoring possession leading right up to the score, and it’s been part of the learning process for a player hitting his offensive peak in his third NHL season. 

“All the games I play beside Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Marchy [Brad Marchand] and [with] those two guys it’s such a pleasure to play [with them] and learn a bunch of stuff, learning every single shift,” said Pastrnak. “They talk to me, tell me what to do, and then I guess [I’m] trying to listen. We have a lot of guys here who have been around the league for a long time, so they [are] helping us young guys. It’s really helpful.”

Now it’s Pastrnak tearing up the league in just his third pro season, and playing like he’s going to be “around the league for a long time” just like some of the players on the Boston roster that have jumped from a talented young player to the pathway to NHL stardom. The sky is truly the limit for a player in Pastrnak that can win battles, score goals and skate around in overtime just waiting to embarrass any defenseman that dares try and stop him.