Bruins frustration gets the best of them

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Bruins frustration gets the best of them

BOSTON -- The Bruins and Claude Julien are seeing a disturbing trend with many of their games thus far this season.

The Bs stormout of the startingchute firing on most if not all cylinders and generate some pretty good offensive chances, but they don't capitalize early in the game on those changes. That little first period tease ends up being cause for frustration later on in the game when the Bruins either A) get wildly out of their game plan or B) make mistakes out of misplaced anger and emotion as they did on Tuesday night while playing right into the hands of agitating Tim Gleason.

Its what happened to the Bruins against the Flyers opening night when they should have been up by three or four goals in the first period, it happened on the road in Carolina after a first period filled with Grade A scoring chances turned away by Cam Ward, and it went down again against the Hurricanes againTuesday night in a 4-1 defeat at TD Garden where the B's simply "lost it" in the final 20 minutes.

I think what I saw from tonight is that we start off the game well. In the first period we had some great chances, but were not capitalizing, Julien said. What I see is frustration setting in. The minute we start getting frustrated, we lose focus of our game and then it gets worse and worse. Thats been a bit of a pattern this year.

If you look back at the Philadelphia game, we start off well in the first period, same thing and we didnt capitalize . . . even Colorado. There have been some games where we come out of the game well and have some great opportunities to score, but its not going in right now. The frustration is getting the better of us. I think its important that we fight our way through it and manage our frustration here.

The third period against the Hurricanes on Tuesday night was all about losing focus and letting frustration creep into their game, and Nathan Horton turned into the poster boy for that projected anger. The B's right winger took a single cross check to the back from Gleason, knew the Carolina defenseman wasn't going to fight when he tossed off his gloves and then proceeded to beat him into the ice anyway. That it happened just 31 seconds after the Bruins had halved their deficit to 2-1 on a Rich Peverley goal gives one a pretty clear pictures of what Gleason was doing -- and the kind of trap that Horton willingly fell into on a night when two points were still within reach.Andrew Ference said that much of it is reflected back on the ineffectiveness of Boston's offense, and individual players feeling pressure to produce as they did last season. It's not happening early this year, and many of the Bruins are getting out of the practices that made them so effective.

I think that we wanted to start off with a better record, and guys personally wanted to get off with better numbers to get their stuff going. They wanted to feel sharp about their game, said Ference. But you cant let those frustrations get in the way of having success. Were a good team with a good system, but we run into troubles when you start searching outside of the system trying to do too much. Once we get outside of it even if its only a couple of guys it really blows up the way that were trying to play.

If there was one thing the Bruins definitely did against the Hurricanes on Tuesday night, it was blow up in the final 20 minutes of play. Sure, they showed some fight and emotion against a team that traditionally doesn't bring it out of them. But its time for the Bruins to recognize their frustratedpatterns and address them before theyre doomed to repeat them overand overagain during such an important stretch of home ice hockey early in the year.

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

The mission for the Bruins on their four-game road swing through the West Coast is certainly to keep the momentum going, but it’s also to quell any talk that the positive results will be short-lived following the coaching change.

The Bruins won there first three games interim head coach Bruce Cassidy headed into the five-day “bye week”, and they’ll come out on the other side with a potentially dangerous road swing through California that will finish up in Dallas next weekend. 

The Black and Gold have gone into death spirals before on the Cali trip, so that’s always a danger when going coast-to-coast to face tough teams in the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

There’s also the fact that NHL teams are 3-10-2 as of Saturday afternoon in the first game coming back from the five-day midseason vacation. That means the B’s are going to face a stiff uphill battle on Sunday night against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

The challenge is going to be there for the Bruins to answer all of those challenges when they’ve shrunk away from such adversity most of the season. It gives the Bruins yet another chance to show that the three games aren’t merely a sugar-high after cages had been rattled and is instead something that Boston sustains over the season’s final two-plus months.

“Our thinking is to try to win every game. We know the standings. We know it’s pretty tight. We put ourselves in some of the games in tough situations. Now, we’ve got to climb up and fight for every point,” said Zdeno Chara. “It’s going to be very important that we do that and play that way until the end.

“We can look at the standings as much as we want. I think that we really have to focus on how we play, how we want to go into every game, and what we can do to get as many points as possible.”

The good news for the Bruins is that the teams chasing them in the standings really haven’t gained ground on them, and they enter Saturday still in a playoff spot. So, the mathematics don’t look as dire for Boston as they did going into their rest period, and now they should be energized, recharged and highly motivated headed into the final 24 games of the season.

There’s also the fact that the Bruins were playing exciting, aggressive and winning hockey due to some of the tweaks made by Cassidy after taking control of the team. He finally got some production from the third line after putting forwards Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes together, a combo he never truly gave a look because he didn’t trust them to do the job defensively. Cassidy immediately placed 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik into a top-six role with power-play time straight from the AHL. That’s something one almost never saw happen with rookies and inexperienced guys during Julien’s run.

The B’s defensemen corps scored four goals in the three wins and showed aggressive, timely risk-taking to produce offense when playing it safe was normally the call of the day under Julien. The forwards were avoiding the low-to-high passing to the point that so often resulted in perimeter shots from the Bruins in the offensive zone, and instead attacked the net down low with the forwards looking to put some anxiety into the opponent’s D-zone coverage.

It all worked and it all looked remarkably different from the way the Bruins played in the opening 55 games.

“It’s something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we’re doing, make sure we’re moving [during the bye] and not just sitting idle and getting rusty,” said David Backes last weekend headed into the bye. “Make sure that mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that’s winning culture. That’s what we’re building.”

The Bruins now get their chance to prove this is a permanent change to a winning culture rather than a short term, three-game adrenaline rush after watching their longtime coach get fired. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be for the Black and Gold if they’re finally going to earn their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons. 

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while hoping that Purple Passion doesn’t try the same comeback as Zima.

*A Seattle investor says that an NHL team coming to that city is much more likely than a return by the NBA to the Pacific Northwestern city.

*Gare Joyce writes eloquently about the loneliness of a hockey scout, and how that world can sometimes come to a crashing halt.  

*Good piece from Arpon Basu giving the sights and sounds of Claude Julien’s second stint behind the bench with the Montreal Canadiens.

*The agent for Russian player Maxim Shalunov says there is a “10 percent chance” that he’s going to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.

*Mike Babcock says not to expect any big trade deadline deals from the Toronto Maple Leafs as they push for a playoff spot.

*Henrik Zetterberg reflects on a difficult season with the Detroit Red Wings where it looks like things might finally come down to a crashing halt.

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nhl/red-wings/2017/02/17/red-wings-zetterberg-reflects-tough-season/98064530/

*The Minnesota Wild have underrated depth on their team, and the Hockey News says it might just be their scariest attribute.

*For something completely different: as referenced above, it looks like that Zima drink of the 1990s is trying to make a comeback. I was in college when the Zima people were seemingly flooding campuses with advertising and samples back in the day.