Haggerty: Bruins get back to business

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Haggerty: Bruins get back to business

BOSTON -- Thursday nights performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs smacked of back to work night for the Boston Bruins.

Game Story: Bruins 6, Maple Leafs 2
Itvery much appearedthe Bs players finally had their minds collectively trained backto the business of hockey for the first time this season, and the results were undeniable with six goals scored, 43 shots on net and a pair of power play strikes. For a team that entered the Leafs game as the lowest goals per game (1.67) offense in the NHL, the Bruins finally managed to find their exhausting workethic for the 6-2 slump-buster of a winning effort over the Leafs at TD Garden.The B's really don't know any other way to compete and work, and they showed again in one night their pathway to hockey success.

You want to get out of that hump, I guess, as quickly as possible, so obviously there's always urgency when things are going like that. You want to get out of the slump and we're proud guys; we want to be on top every night obviously, said Patrice Bergeron. So right now I think it is a good effort, but we've seen it too often in the past six games. You have to be consistent and we need to have a good effort on Saturday against the Sharks as well.

Thats the thing now for a Bruins team thats found their blue collar mojo, and reintroduced themselves to their pre-Stanley Cup routines. The Bruins need to simply work for goals that arent going to arrive mostnightsvia pretty little plays on the ice, and earn everything they receivein this hockey world just as they did last season.

The lines were "new look" after Claude Julien threw the top three forward lines into a blender and pressed down on the high speed mixbutton, but it wasn't the exact dynamics of the lines that made it all work. Itwas all about the Bruins regulars rolling up their sleeves, punching the clock and getting to work. After all, the Bruins dont have the high-end offensive talent to float around and create exotic goal-scoring plays without their blue collar attitude and willingness to pay the price in the dangers areas.

The Bruins need to crowd big bodies in front of the net and engage in liberal use of the turbo skating speed button while speedingpucks into the offensive zone. Theyhad all of those things and more like their hockey pants were aflamewith a different kind of urgency against the Leafs. The Bs to a manknow they need to have their act together by the time November hits on the NHL calendar, and they took a big step in that direction against Phil Kessel and the upstart Leafs.

Its probably not a coincidence that all of the players with letters on their Bs sweaters stepped up with their biggest games of the season, and Shawn Thornton served his role to a tee by trading punches with Colton Orr in exchange for an emotional lift.

Andrew Ference served up three assists in the first 20 minutes and was working the control at the point on the power play like Bruins fans wished Tomas Kaberle could have last year. The dish to Zdeno Chara was a thing of beauty.Speaking ofChara, the B's Captainstepped up to finally crack the Bs offensive ledger with three points and some needed production on the power play.It wasn't difficult to see Chara's 105-mph slapper put the fear of God into Jonas Gustavsson by winding up for a one-timer in the right face-off circle.

Thats a far cry from Charas normal shooting point far away by the blue line. Gustavsson never even saw the shot coming, and could have been excused if he needed a change of underwear after watching Charas heat-seeking missilecoming at him from such close range.

It's so close and obviously that's a goal any time, said Bergeron with a smirk thinking about Chara winding up the hammer so uncharacteristically close to the Toronto net. It's an unbelievable shot and that's a great look from all the guys on the ice to get that opening for 'Z.'

We moved a lot more- we're more active as players on the ice as well -- to get open and to find passing lanes and then shooting. We're not hesitating and we're not thinking. We're just using instincts right now and that's how hockey's played.

Chris Kelly manned things upbetween Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin, and oversaw an
offensive surge within that trio of forwards that produced three-point games for both wingers while opening things up for all involved. That from a two-way defensive pivot that some routinely dismiss when it comes to the offensive end of the ice, and a player that's become a giant leadership influence within the room.Patrice Bergeron set the tone for the other top six forward group by racking up a team-high nine shots, and truly set the leadership tone by bringing his A game to the ice for a full 60 minutes of intense hockey. His top shelf wrister in the third period turned the game from competitive to a smile-filled laugher in no time at all.

It was just about everybody focusing on their game and playing with some energy and desperation in a good way, said Claude Julien. I thought we were determined tonight, really determined as a group, and maybe we needed to play better as individuals. As a team that kind of effort would probably translate into a good team game as well.

The big performances from the extended Bs leadership group, the losses and wins piling up in either side of the ledger after two weeks, and the shuffled up Bs rotation of forwards all spelled to a greater sense of urgency against a Toronto hockey club thats one of the hottest in the NHL just a couple of weeks into the season. It spoke to a group of influential B's players that decided it was time to put the hard hats back on, and start grinding away at the 82-game gauntlet.

Of course Tim Thomas put his imprint on the victory just as seriously and appropriately as the rest of his teammates, and the 37-year-old was at his best in the second period when the Bruins fell asleep for a time.

The mission now for the Bruins with seemingly all 20 players on board for a statement win of sorts just three weeks into October: crush a weakened and weary San Jose Sharks on Saturday night at the Garden to perpetuate some of the consistency thats eluded themafter solid early wins against the Lightning and Blackhawks. The B's need to start piling up wins, and they need to do it now.

You want to get out of that hump, I guess, as quickly as possible, so obviously there's always urgency when things are going like that. You want to get out of the slump and we're proud guys; we want to be on top every night obviously, said Bergeron. So right now I think it is a good effort, but we've seen it too often in the past six games. You have to be consistent and we need to have a good effort on Saturday against the Sharks as well.

Thats the thing now for a Bruins team thats found their work fervor, and reintroduced themselves to their pre-Stanley Cup roots. The motto is simple: the Bruins need to simply work for goals that arent going to arrive via pretty little plays and earn everything they get in this hockey world just as they did last season.The challenge is a little morecomplex:to carry that out consistently for the rest of the season

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.