Bruins know how Red Sox feel post-collapse

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Bruins know how Red Sox feel post-collapse

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Andrew Ference had a pretty simple message for any Red Sox player he might bump into at Whole Foods or see at a charity event.

It wont be maudlin sympathy or a contrived new-age message of redemption after the Sox suffered the worst regular-season collapse in baseball history. It will be the hockey solution to starting the healing process.

Id ask them if they want to go get a beer," said Ference, who was a part one of the worst collapses in NHL playoff history when the Bruins lost to the Flyers after leading the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, three games to none. That's about it. I dont think there was a single guy around here after Flyers loss that was looking for a shoulder to cry on or looking for sympathy. We were mad with each other.

It almost seemed surreal to those Bruins players watching it unfold Wednesday night in real time, just as it did to a nation of Red Sox fans that are still slack-jawed and a little stunned Thursday. The Evan Longoria home run added another chapter of Red Sox misery that had been remarkably absent since the 2004 World Series title.

I watch about three hours of baseball and that was it for me last night," Ference said. "It was nuts. It was almost like it was scripted for it to be as hurtful as possible. It sucks. Its not fun. Its a bad feeling to go through as a player. Youre not trying to tank. Its almost like you try too hard to turn things around and it just gets worse.

You only go through the media gauntlet if youre reading the papers and listening to what people say outside the room. I dont think as bad it was that guys cared too much what was said on the outside. We were harsh enough on the inside of the room with ourselves. From our GM to the coach and the players, we were extremely hard on each other. I dont know if the situation is the same with the Red Sox or not, but I know we were all glad the next year that we didnt blow it all up because we believed in each other.

Tim Thomas is a pretty big baseball fan and watched a few innings, but ultimately lost the remote-control battle with his kids on Wednesday night.

The Bs goaltender saw that the Red Sox were leading and the Yankees were losing big before moving on to other things in the Thomas household. He wasnt filled in until Thursday morning at the Garden about the gory details of the Red Sox demise: Jonathan Papelbons blown save and Carl Crawfords limp attempt to snag a fly ball in left field closing the pathetic final chapter for this seasons star-crossed Sox squad.

Thomas wasnt the goaltender of record when the Bruins fell to the Flyers in four straight playoff games, but he has little doubt the Sox 7-20 record in September can help them in the long run if its addressed and harnessed properly.

I dont think they need any advice," Thomas said. "I think it will simmer in those guys all winter and it will help them with motivation for next year. Thats what I think happened with us. With the way it worked out in the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay, being able to come back like that, I hate to say it but it seems like it was meant to be.

Thats why sports are sports. You dont know what the outcome is going to be in situations like that.

The funny thing about the Bs collapse two years ago is that it really raised the stakes and the fan attention for the Boston hockey franchise. It seems that the more dramatic and compelling the failure, the more emotionally tied the fan base becomes in the ensuing season. For the Bruins, the pain and heartache of becoming the butt of jokes in their entire league steeled them against all coming adversity that entire year.

Coach Claude Julien believes the proud franchise of the Red Sox will bounce back.

Sports is what it is," Julien said. "One day its great and the next day its something like that. We can all stand here and speculate and have our reasons or answers. But only they know what the cause of it is. I know they had injuries and that can sometimes break team chemistry. There are a lot of reasons why those kinds of things can happen. But as outsiders, the natural thing to do is always attack the team.

Its tough. Weve been through it. Its tough to swallow and Im sure those guys arent going to be happy and proud today. But theyre going to bounce back. Theyre a very proud organization and Im sure theyre going to bounce back.

The best way to get the proud Sox franchise headed in the right direction: Save the excuses and lame attempts to explain away something that uncovered serious flaws within the team structure.

Its a matter of getting over it," said Ference. You suck it up and take responsibility for it. I think you only get into trouble if you start pointing fingers and looking for excuses. But if you take accountability and responsibly for not getting the job done, then you can move on from it.

The suck it up season started for the Sox Thursday morning.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

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Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

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Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

BROOKLYN, NY – Things didn’t go so well last season for the Bruins when Tuukka Rask suddenly wasn’t well enough to play in the last game of the season, so there was good reason for the B’s to be a little nervous when their No. 1 goalie again couldn’t answer the bell Saturday night vs. the Islanders.

Anton Khudobin had won four games in a row headed into Saturday night, of course, and in his previous start he’d helped snap a 10-game winning streak for the Calgary Flames. So perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising when Khudobin stood tall for the Bruins making 18 saves in a tight, nervy 2-1 win over the Isles at the Barclays Center.

“You don’t have that many shots, but maybe 10 scoring chances…that can be tougher than seeing 30 shots and same amount of scoring chances,” said Khudobin. “But I’m glad got the job done, we got our points and we got the ‘W’.”

It wasn’t wall-to-wall action in a game where both teams combined for 37 shots on net, but it was still impressive that Khudobin and the B’s special teams killed off six Islander power plays in such a tight hockey game. After the B’s backup netminder was lauded for the way he battled in the crease and competed for pucks like his team’s very life was on the line in a pivotal game.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard, and fighting that hard to see pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I loved his performance. He’s a battler. He got swimming a couple of times, but that’s Dobby. He keeps it interesting for you. He’s a battler and he always has been. That’s what we needed tonight.”

One could spend days analyzing Cassidy's words and wondering much of that was deserved, appreciative praise for Khudobin, and how much of that might have been a veiled message to Boston's No. 1 goaltender sitting back home in Boston. 

The best save of the night probably won’t even count as a save for the Russian netminder. It was John Tavares, after having beaten Khudobin once in the first period, moving into the offensive zone with speed during a third period power play, and getting an open look at the net front in the high slot. Khudobin thought quickly and dropped into the unconventional double-stack pad save that seemed to throw Tavares off just a little, and the Isles sniper smoked the shot off the crossbar rather than tying up the game.

“I didn’t touch it. I didn’t really have time to get there, so the only thing I tried to do was the two-pad stack, old school Bob Essensa-style,” said Khudobin, who has now improved to 6-5-1 with a 2.60 goals against and an .899 save percentage this season. “Then he hit the crossbar. You need to get some luck in this league, and if you don’t get luck you’re going to lose games.”

A little luck and a little good, old-fashioned battling between the pipes was enough for Khudobin and the Bruins in Saturday night’s mammoth win. Now the questions become whether or not to go right back to Khudobin again on Tuesday at home against the Nashville Predators.