Bruins notes: Horton misses part of practice

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Bruins notes: Horton misses part of practice

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON -- The Bruins were without Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas for Monday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. With the B's playing in Carolina on Tuesday night, it only made sense to let the two All Stars remain where the All-Star Game took place.

They also were without winger Nathan Horton for the final 20 minutes of Monday's hour-long session.Horton left practice early after suffering what he later called "just a little stinger."

Coach Claude Julien also didn't seem too concerned.

"He's fine," said Julien after Monday's practice. "Just a precaution. He just got banged up a little bit. By the time he was ready to come back on, we were done."

Julien didn't have much of an update on Marc Savard (concussion), but did say that the injured center will return to the team on either Tuesday or Wednesday, and will be re-evaluated further.

Julien stressed, however, that the main goal is for Savard to take care of himself for the sake of himself, not for the sake of the team.

Defenseman Steven Kampfer couldn't wait to replace his full shield with a half shield, and wasted no time doing so as he returned from the team's four-day break during All-Star weekend.

Kampfer broke his nose back on Jan. 15 after taking a Zdeno Chara high stick to the face, and has worn a full shield in his last six games. But team doctors cleared him, after the last game, to go back to his usual half shield, and he did just that for Monday's practice.

"As soon as I got back, I literally grabbed my helmet and said it was time to put the half-shield back on," said Kampfer. "It's not fun wearing the full shield. It's hard to breathe in, so it was good to put the half-shield back on and use it for practice."

Julien also commented on his two players who did make the All Star Game, and was pleased with the way they represented the Bruins in Carolina this past weekend.

"I was happy for Chara, to see him break his own record," said Julien. "It's something he really takes to heart, and takes a lot of pride in. He was able to accomplish that.

"And Tim, as usual, always represents us well. Whether it's having fun or the way he competes. We had some good people representing us there at the All Star Game, and made our organization proud."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Bruin players talk the talk after failing to walk the walk vs. Lightning

Bruin players talk the talk after failing to walk the walk vs. Lightning

BOSTON -- All the Bruins -- the leaders and the core veteran group -- were front and center on Thursday night, taking accountability for what had just happened on the ice.

It was ugly: Boston frittered away three one-goal leads in the second period and then came totally unglued in the third period, allowing three consecutive goals in a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. There were moments when focus and concentration were clearly an issue, and other moments when the Bruins lacked their usual discipline with veteran players were taking some ill-advised penalties.

With pressure mounting as the Bruins, losers of four in a row, appear to be headed towards their third consecutive late-season collapse out of the playoffs, the players were saying all the right things while vowing to move forward with eight games left.

"I think it's not good enough from top to bottom," said David Backes. "I'll be the first guy to point fingers at my chest and say I need to be better. Tonight was certainly not our best when it's that time of year [and] you need your best every night to win, no matter who you're playing against or what the circumstances may be. This one certainly hurts . . .

"But now's not the time to not be giving ourselves a chance to win and we need to be doing that every night. Tonight, we didn't and we've got eight games left and they all need to be really good-to-great ones so that we can find our way into these playoffs."

Backes finished a minus-2 with just a single shot on net and seemed a step behind Tampa Bay most of the game, so it was proper to him to call himself our for personal ineffectiveness. But as interim coach Bruce Cassidy put it, responsibility for Thursday night -- the low point of the Bruins' season -- rests on "Player 1 through Player 20". And all 20 of the Bruins will be needed to find a successful way out.

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again. 

That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.

“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals. 

“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”

One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent.