Bruins must answer early wake-up call

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Bruins must answer early wake-up call

BOSTON -- The Bruins proved they could put everything together against one of their young-and-hungry challengers by pumping in six goals against the Maple Leafs earlier this week.

It was an encouraging sign that they're fighting through the frustration, and coming out of the Stanley Cup hangover, ever so slowly and deliberately.

The Bs have been the picture of inconsistency thus far, and that needs to change. A good, solid victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second game of the season was followed up with a stink bomb against the Colorado Avalanche. A rousing shootout win on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks went for naught when the Bruins couldnt find their composure or their offense in a third-period meltdown against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Each time the Bruins take one step forward this year, theyve followed up with a tumble back. Players have been slow to wake up this year and many are still performing well under their capabilities, but theyre gradually coming out of it.

The best remedy for the Stanley Cup hangover is a winning streak chased with consistent, 60 -minute efforts, and the Bruins are on the search for both this week with home games against the Sharks and Canadiens before their first regular-season trip to Montreal really gets things going.

We all needed to wake up and start playing the way we can before it was too late, said Nathan Horton, who potted his second goal of the season against the Leafs Thursday. Consistency is real important. A win feels good, but we definitely need to keep that going and keep working hard. When you start working hard thats when things go your way.

Thats also clearly when the wins and points start going your way.

Coach Claude Julien again sounded the warning bells on Friday when he watched the Bruins go through a sloppy late-morning practice the night after their Toronto win and thats something he wants to nip in the bud.

We just seem to have good days and then average days. We talked about it in practice on Friday, we have good days and then we have days where were not really mentally sharp out there, said Julien. We cant afford to do that. If you can sharpen yourselves up in practice then it translate over into the game. The biggest challenge right now is being able to sustain our focus.

We can work hard and we have to be sharp and work smartly. Weve got to focus on the mental part of the game at the rink every day whether its practice or a game, and build that consistency from there.

But the Bruins still have much to prove and improve before the NHL rubber really starts to hit the road in November, and teams will begin to sort out a playoff picture that surprisingly doesnt change too much. Since 1993, NHL teams that find themselves in the top eight playoff spots in either conference by the Thanksgiving holiday end up qualifying for the postseason 77.5 percent of the time.

That means teams on the outside of the top eight only climb into the playoffs from the outside 22.5 percent of the time, and teams that are any more then 2-3 points outside of the top 8 playoff spots have close to an impossible task in front of them. Its become increasingly difficult for underdog teams off to bad starts to gain ground on other teams in the shootout era, where points are handed out like Halloween candy, and things can become fatal if a team takes too long to climb out of its offseason hibernation.

Some around the NHL call it the November Effect and its a very real of every teams strategy when the regular season is boiled down to big picture segments.

The Bruins are definitely in the latter category, sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference with six points after seven games, and they now enter an important month where they need to begin racking up points while honing their consistency. That starts with Saturdays Welcome back, Jumbo game against the Sharks, and continues with a home-and-home series against the Canadiens that should keep the Bruins focused and intense for the upcoming week ,anyway.

The old hockey axiom is that that a Stanley Cup cant be won in October and November, but it can certainly be lost if a team doesnt get off to a proper start in the first two months of the season.

The Bruins have 13 games between now and the Thanksgiving holiday starting this weekend, and its time to start building up their playoff portfolio before theyre on the wrong side of the NHLs traditional playoff stats.

Don Sweeney: Bruins 'lost a good player' in Colin Miller

Don Sweeney: Bruins 'lost a good player' in Colin Miller

CHICAGO – Don Sweeney said the Bruins knew and expected they were going to lose one of three players in the NHL expansion draft, and it’s pretty clear it was going to be Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller or Colin Miller leaving the team. The B’s took Kevan Miller out of the equation by leaving him on the protection list after a strong season while also playing some of his best hockey in the playoffs.

That left McQuaid and Miller with each of the two D-men standing an equal chance of getting selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, and the 24-year-old puck-moving Miller going to Vegas for the time being. It remains to be seen if Miller sticks with the Golden Knights, or if there is an eventual plan to flip him elsewhere like perhaps an interested party in Toronto.

Sweeney said the Bruins didn’t want to lose a player with potential like Miller, but it’s also true that he would have been stuck behind younger, better D-men on the depth chart with Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as better right-handed options.

“It was an interesting process to go through. It was hard at times because you felt like other teams were able to find deals to keep their team together while you felt vulnerable in that regard,” said Sweeney at the B’s team hotel in Chicago during a Thursday availability with the media. “You knew you were going to lose a good player. You knew they had targeted three players on our team that we felt they would target, and unfortunately we’re losing a good, young player.

“We thought highly of Colin. He was part of a big trade for us and we wish him well moving forward. We thank for him doing his part with the organization. We lost a good player.”

Clearly, the Bruins lost a defenseman with skills and youth on his side, but it’s also a young guy that hasn’t put it all together yet while never posting more than 16 points in each of his two seasons with the Black and Gold. Perhaps he will put together the offensive package at his next landing spot after showing flashes in Boston over the last two years, but that unknown factor while no longer being considered a prospect is the reason he didn’t find himself on the protected D list along with Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.  

Bruins' 2017-18 schedule has three Habs games in eight days

Bruins' 2017-18 schedule has three Habs games in eight days


The Bruins released their schedule for the 2017-18 season Thursday, with their campaign beginning at TD Garden on Oct. 5 against the Predators. 

Two things stand out in Boston’s schedule. Eleven of their final 15 games are on the road, and they don’t play the Canadiens until mid-January.  

Then, when the B’s and Habs do finally meet, they play three times in an eight-day span. The rivals face each other Jan. 13 in Montreal, Jan. 17 in Boston and Jan. 20 in Montreal. The Bruins’ final regular-season meeting with the Habs is March 3. 

To see the full schedule, click here.