Bruins looking for better defensive effort vs. Sabres

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Bruins looking for better defensive effort vs. Sabres

BUFFALO The Bruins pretty clearly dont want anything close to a repeat performance of their last game against the Buffalo Sabres.

They created over 20 scoring chances for themselves, and that was an overwhelming positive. But they also had enough defensive zone coverage miscues for an entire months worth of games and allowed seven goals while also getting pushed around their rink by an obviously emotional Sabres bunch.

Unsurprisingly that led to Bostons only regulation loss in nine regular season games played this season, and a pretty easy blueprint for what not to do against Buffalo this time around. A little more of the typical hard to play against Bruins attitude and focused defensive intensity would be a good couple of places to start for the Black and Gold, who hope to have Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton back in the lineup on Sunday night at the First Niagara Center.

The Bruins bounced back from the Buffalo defeat with two much more typical efforts in allowing only one combined goal to the Maple Leafs and Canadiens over the last week.

We were much better, obviously, said coach Claude Julien. I think it was a little bit of a breakdown in our system and it happened to be against Buffalo. When you give that kind of team that kind of space and opportunities, theyre going to put the puck in the net.

Theres no doubt were going to focus on being better in our game without the puck tonight against the Sabres. Ryan Miller played well the last time out, but we still scored four goals against him. For us thats usually good enough for a win. We left our goalie hanging on a lot of our breakdowns. We hope to continue the offensive trend against them, but we need to tighten up defensively.

Thats the exact kind of grinding, relentless effort theyll be looking for on the road in Buffalo. Rather than hoping 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara will pound enforcer John Scott into the ice, the Bruins will settle for a big improvement over the bogus effort that left him with a minus-3 against Vanek and the Sabres the last time out.

Weve showed a lot of character. The game in Montreal wasnt our best effort, but we found a way to get the two points, said Patrice Bergeron. We need a 60-minute effort tonight, but I like the way weve been battling.

It might also help if they can somehow slow down Thomas Vanek, who leads the NHL with 11 goals and 23 points in 11 games played this season and romped over Boston with a hat trick at TD Garden.

That means some of Bostons best defensive players namely Chara and Bergeron need to be much better than they were against the Sabres the first time around.

Were aware that they have some great players offensively, said Bergeron. Thats what they want: the 2-on-1s and the odd-man rushes. We know their D-men have good skill and move up the ice very well. We just need to be aware of that and just play our game. We didnt do that against them the first time.

The charge is there for the Bruins: Shut down Vanek and return to their punishing, exacting style of play against Buffalo. Fail to do those things or get too involved in the distractions that the agitating Sabres can throw at you, and the result could be disappointment for Boston all over again.

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

BOSTON – It took until his 43rd game in the NHL to finally score his first goal with the Bruins, but Rhode Island native Noel Acciari said it made him appreciate it all the more when that moment finally did arrived on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old Acciari finished off a Riley Nash feed on a 3-on-1 odd-man rush that gave the Bruins an insurance goal they badly needed in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

Then David Pastrnak hit Acciari with a shaving cream pie to the face during the NESN broadcast as a way to commemorate his teammate’s big scoring moment, and Torey Krug immediately fished the puck out of the net to make certain that Acciari would get it.

So it was the best of both worlds with the team-oriented Acciari, who watched his Bruins win to go right along with his hallmark scoring moment that he’ll remember forever.

“Your first NHL goal is a special feeling and to finally have it, you know, like I said before I couldn’t have done it without the other guys, the other four, five guys on the ice. But it feels good,” said Acciari, who has a goal and four points in 24 games this season in Boston. “It just shows you how special it is. It’s not going to come the first game you play; it could come 10, 20, for me probably over 40, but it still feels the same.”

Clearly it’s more about providing a physical, heavy and aggressive opponent when Acciari suits up for the Black and Gold, and it’s less about providing offensive production that’s really a bonus from the fourth line. The focus on throwing hits, aggravating opponents and playing with extra energy have been a big part of Acciari’s game since his return from Providence, and that is absolutely been by design.

“I think I kind of strayed [from my strengths] when I got back from my injury – I kind of strayed away from the hitting game,” said Acciari. “Just getting in on the fore-check and, you know, just kind of getting back to that down in Providence was huge and kind of get my confidence up down there helped out a lot. So when I got the call up I was ready for anything.”

He’s certainly played like he was ready for anything while posting a goal and two points along with a plus-4 in his first four games back for the Bruins organization. Acciari did all of that while leading everybody in Tuesday night’s game with eight registered hits in the win over Nashville. So the 5-foot-10, 208-pound Acciari gave a pretty good example against the Predators of just what he can do with steady ice time and the trust of his teammates as all of the hockey clubs in the East gear up to finish strong for the playoffs.

Now all Acciari has to do is continue to play consistently, punish opposing players and chip in a little offense from time and time as he carves out a permanent role on Boston’s fourth line, and helps his team win a few along the way.