Boston Bruins

B's trying to avoid familiar struggles

605570.jpg

B's trying to avoid familiar struggles

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins are taking great care to keep frustration and high emotions at bay.

It was both team feelings that spiraled out of control during their 3-7 start in the month of October, and got the Bs out of their team concepts when things didnt go their way early in those games. The Bruins hit posts, missed open nets and simply couldnt finish off plays in a series of tight games that turned into an embarrassingly sluggish start pretty quickly.

Those offensive performance problems cropped up again in their two consecutive losses to the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers.

There are lots of reasons to want to play better and redeem ourselves, said Claude Julien. We hit four or five posts against the Panthers, but the game before we didnt score much and havent been burying our chances. You cant just chalk that up to bad luck, so we need to be better that way.

We didnt make a lot of mistakes defensively, but a lot of their scoring chances were off our turnovers. So there is lots of room for us to improve wither its winning or losing. We need to look at it that way.

But Brad Marchand doesnt see a connection between a Cup-winning team staggering out of the starting gate, and a team floating through a midseason lull after playing dominant hockey for a month.

The pesky Bs winger talked about the Bruins continuing to create scoring chances, but it also might be a hockey team taking the foot off the gas pedal every so slightly.

You want them to go in, but the fact that weve gotten the opportunities speaks volumes for the way weve played, said Marchand. Sometimes you have games where they dont go in and sometimes you have games where everything goes in. I dont think were frustrated right now by any means, though, after the run we just had.

We could maybe bear down a little more in front of the net. But weve had good opportunities and run into a couple of hot goalies making great saves at the right times. As long as were getting opportunities we have to be happy.

The Bruins managed only a single goal a greasy Shawn Thornton goal in the third period of their loss to Winnipeg but hit five posts against the Panthers in their second shutout defeat of the season. Milan Lucic was stoned on a wide open shot from the slot when Jose Theodore made a sweeping glove save and Thorntons line couldnt flip a puck into a net vacated by the Florida goaltender when the Bs got their chances early in the game.

The Bruins power play cranked at close to a 25 percent success clip during the month of November as well, but the man advantage has gone 0-for-7 in the two losses. Thats one area that can be turned around quickly, and should given how much better the puck movement and chemistry between teammates is this season.

It starts with freeing Zdeno Chara up for more steaming one-time slap shots from the between the face-off dots, and then opens up everything else on a man advantage that can supply offense even when things arent falling for the Bruins during five on-five play.

Columbus doesnt represent the normal wakeup call team for the Bruins, but it doesnt seem to matter much with the Bruins looking to break up the two-game losing stretch.

Everyone in here is trying to get that spark. Its going to happen, said Tyler Seguin, who finished with a pair of shots on net in his return to the lineup after a healthy scratch against Winnipeg. Its a long season and everyone is going to go through droughts when we cant find the back of the net. But were still working hard at it. I think the effort is there and its about bearing down now.

It seemed for more than a month that nothing could go wrong for the Bruins offensively, but now thats been turned on its ear. Its time for the Black and Gold to reserve that trend before they begin undoing all the good work they did for more than a month of butt-kicking Bruins hockey.

Morning Skate: Can BU's Keller break through with Coyotes?

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Morning Skate: Can BU's Keller break through with Coyotes?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while watching the worlds of sports and politics collide this weekend.

-- Can former Boston University standout Clayton Keller become the NHL’s newest rookie sensation for the Arizona Coyotes? The skills and the skating are certainly there, but we’ll have to see if he can remain in one piece all season with a middling team around him.

-- PHT writer Cam Tucker has Kris Letang returning to the Penguins on Sunday. It still blows my mind that Pittsburgh was able to win the Cup without him in its lineup last spring.

-- Speaking of the Penguins, they say they will accept the White House invitation to visit after last year’s Cup win, and offer a pretty non-committal statement about what’s going on in the other three major sports right now.

-- It was a tremendously successful opening of Little Caesar’s Arena for the Detroit Red Wings last night as they stomped the Bruins in preseason action.

-- The Maple Leafs' Nazem Kadri is out to prove that last season wasn’t a one-year wonder.

-- For something completely different: Good to see another Stoneham guy getting some accolades for a dead-on impersonation.