Julien: Bruins have been good, but are going to be better

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Julien: Bruins have been good, but are going to be better

BOSTON -- The Bruins are off to the best start in franchise history after 10 games in this lockout-shortened season, and theyre sitting atop their division with more than 20 percent of the season already in the books.

Theyve outscored their opponents by a 12-4 margin in the third period this season and theyve ridden some excellent defense and goaltending to a 2.10 goals-against average, good for sixth in the NHL. The Bruins have the best penalty-kill unit in the NHL this season, and have done many of the little things right thus far.

But the Bruins are also far from as good as they can be, and their coach knows it.

If anything, I think weve been consistent, said Claude Julien. Theres no doubt that were going to get better. I think there are still some guys that arent at the peak of their game yet. Thats pretty indicative of how hard were working to score goals.

The Bruins are obviously flailing on the power play, as they have over the last two seasons, and go into Tuesday night ranked 28th in the NHL with a 10.3 percent success rate on the man advantage. That number might improve slightly as the season wears on, but the five-on-five scoring is down a couple of notches from where its been the last few years.

The Bruins are smack in the middle of the NHL rankings while averaging 2.7 goals per game, and the Black and Gold are normally in the top third of NHL teams with a deep, productive offense. The Bruins were second in the NHL in offense while averaging 3.17 goals per game last season, and were fifth in the NHL two years ago with 2.98 goals per game en route to a Stanley Cup.

Clearly the slow start for Tyler Seguin (one non-empty net goal in 10 games played) and the lack of the production from Bostons third line have contributed to the offensive slow going. But theyre not that far off, and Julien thinks there is a high ceiling that hasnt quite been reached by an 8-1-1 hockey club.

Were a better scoring team than what weve shown thus far. I think weve shown that were capable of creating the chances, but right now the finish isnt there, said Julien. Theres certainly room for improvement. But I like where we are at this stage of the season and how weve handled those types of games. But theres a lot more in our hockey club than weve shown so far.

Thats a scary thought for opponents around the NHL: the Bruins are first in the division, second in the conference, have lost just once in regulation through 10 games and have 38 more tilts to keep fine-tuning their hockey club.

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while sorting through all the Bruins-related alternative facts out there.

*Matthew Tkachuk is having some disagreements with his parents about his mouth-guard usage with the Calgary Flames.

*Former Yotes D-man Keith Yandle says that the Arizona Coyotes “know what they’re doing” despite their decent to the cellar in the Western Conference.

*Insights on every goaltending situation in the NHL from the crack ESPN.com staff breaking down the fantasy rankings.

*The struggles continue for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they can’t seem to gain any traction in the Atlantic Division.

*Wayne Simmonds took the blame for a late penalty that led to Philly’s undoing as they battle for playoff position in the East.

*Sounds like Patrik Laine might be nearing a return to the lineup, and that’s a very good thing for the Winnipeg Jets.

*For something completely different: We have a title for the next Star Wars film. It’s going to be called “The Last Jedi.”

Rask missing from Bruins practice after Sunday exit

Rask missing from Bruins practice after Sunday exit

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- A day after exiting a 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins with complications from migraines, Tuukka Rask was missing from a full Bruins team practice at Warrior Ice Arena prior to Tuesday night’s home date against the Detroit Red Wings.

Rask pulled himself out of the game midway through the second period with his team trailing after he’d stopped 20-of-22 shots, and was motioning toward his eyes as he exited for the Bruins dressing room. The Bruins goalie confirmed to reporters following the deflating loss that he indeed was suffering from ocular issues consistent with migraines, the same issue that knocked him out of a home loss to the Rangers a couple of years ago.

The Bruins brought in an emergency goalie to practice with the team on Monday along with backup netminder Zane McIntyre, who allowed three goals in the third period on the way to the Bruins imploding in Pittsburgh.

Both Colin Miller and Kevan Miller returned to practice on Monday morning, and the Bruins coaches shook up the forward lines after they were only able to cobble together one goal on 45 shots on Sunday afternoon. Torey Krug was also missing from practice along with Rask.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings based on Monday morning’s practice that started roughly an hour late due to the team doing some video work together:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Krejci-Backes

Schaller-Nash-Beleskey

Spooner-Moore-Czarnik/Hayes

Chara-Carlo

Liles-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

Morrow

McIntyre