B's trying to avoid familiar struggles

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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: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.