Bruins know how Red Sox feel post-collapse

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Bruins know how Red Sox feel post-collapse

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Andrew Ference had a pretty simple message for any Red Sox player he might bump into at Whole Foods or see at a charity event.

It wont be maudlin sympathy or a contrived new-age message of redemption after the Sox suffered the worst regular-season collapse in baseball history. It will be the hockey solution to starting the healing process.

Id ask them if they want to go get a beer," said Ference, who was a part one of the worst collapses in NHL playoff history when the Bruins lost to the Flyers after leading the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, three games to none. That's about it. I dont think there was a single guy around here after Flyers loss that was looking for a shoulder to cry on or looking for sympathy. We were mad with each other.

It almost seemed surreal to those Bruins players watching it unfold Wednesday night in real time, just as it did to a nation of Red Sox fans that are still slack-jawed and a little stunned Thursday. The Evan Longoria home run added another chapter of Red Sox misery that had been remarkably absent since the 2004 World Series title.

I watch about three hours of baseball and that was it for me last night," Ference said. "It was nuts. It was almost like it was scripted for it to be as hurtful as possible. It sucks. Its not fun. Its a bad feeling to go through as a player. Youre not trying to tank. Its almost like you try too hard to turn things around and it just gets worse.

You only go through the media gauntlet if youre reading the papers and listening to what people say outside the room. I dont think as bad it was that guys cared too much what was said on the outside. We were harsh enough on the inside of the room with ourselves. From our GM to the coach and the players, we were extremely hard on each other. I dont know if the situation is the same with the Red Sox or not, but I know we were all glad the next year that we didnt blow it all up because we believed in each other.

Tim Thomas is a pretty big baseball fan and watched a few innings, but ultimately lost the remote-control battle with his kids on Wednesday night.

The Bs goaltender saw that the Red Sox were leading and the Yankees were losing big before moving on to other things in the Thomas household. He wasnt filled in until Thursday morning at the Garden about the gory details of the Red Sox demise: Jonathan Papelbons blown save and Carl Crawfords limp attempt to snag a fly ball in left field closing the pathetic final chapter for this seasons star-crossed Sox squad.

Thomas wasnt the goaltender of record when the Bruins fell to the Flyers in four straight playoff games, but he has little doubt the Sox 7-20 record in September can help them in the long run if its addressed and harnessed properly.

I dont think they need any advice," Thomas said. "I think it will simmer in those guys all winter and it will help them with motivation for next year. Thats what I think happened with us. With the way it worked out in the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay, being able to come back like that, I hate to say it but it seems like it was meant to be.

Thats why sports are sports. You dont know what the outcome is going to be in situations like that.

The funny thing about the Bs collapse two years ago is that it really raised the stakes and the fan attention for the Boston hockey franchise. It seems that the more dramatic and compelling the failure, the more emotionally tied the fan base becomes in the ensuing season. For the Bruins, the pain and heartache of becoming the butt of jokes in their entire league steeled them against all coming adversity that entire year.

Coach Claude Julien believes the proud franchise of the Red Sox will bounce back.

Sports is what it is," Julien said. "One day its great and the next day its something like that. We can all stand here and speculate and have our reasons or answers. But only they know what the cause of it is. I know they had injuries and that can sometimes break team chemistry. There are a lot of reasons why those kinds of things can happen. But as outsiders, the natural thing to do is always attack the team.

Its tough. Weve been through it. Its tough to swallow and Im sure those guys arent going to be happy and proud today. But theyre going to bounce back. Theyre a very proud organization and Im sure theyre going to bounce back.

The best way to get the proud Sox franchise headed in the right direction: Save the excuses and lame attempts to explain away something that uncovered serious flaws within the team structure.

Its a matter of getting over it," said Ference. You suck it up and take responsibility for it. I think you only get into trouble if you start pointing fingers and looking for excuses. But if you take accountability and responsibly for not getting the job done, then you can move on from it.

The suck it up season started for the Sox Thursday morning.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

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Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

BOSTON – On a night when many of Boston’s young players stepped up nicely, perhaps none did more so than 19-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo. The youngster was in a top pair role with John-Michael Liles against a decent Columbus Blue Jackets lineup that included Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, Seth Jones, Brandon Saad and Sonny Milano, and had almost no miscues in his 20:16 of ice time.

Better than that, Carlo notched an assist on the game-tying score in the third period when his right point shot made it through traffic for Danton Heinen to redirect it past Curtis McElhinney from the slot. That left Carlo with an assist, a plus-1 rating and three shots on net in 20:16 of ice time to go along with some heavy battling around the net whenever Blue Jackets players tried to get too close.

“Arguably our best D, if not our best D. [He showed] real good decision-making, and his gaps are good. I can really only think of one time in the third period he kind of threw a puck away in the middle of a change, and ended up on his wrong side,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “It wasn’t a bad turnover, but it was just one that he could have made a little bit of a better decision.

“He didn’t handle the puck much in the game, that’s pretty good. He jumped up the ice, got his shot through when it was there, matched up well with whoever he was put out there [against], pushed back in front of our net. [There were] a lot of good things.”

It’s a big training camp for Carlo, who is more than likely earmarked for Providence unless he can utilize a stellar training camp performance to push over one of the seven veteran Bruins D-men with NHL contracts. That means potentially displacing Joe Morrow as the seventh defensemen on the roster, or forcing the Bruins to possibly deal Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller if the Bruins feel he is ready for the day-to-day NHL grind.

The preseason opener was a good start that the 2015 second round pick was excited about, but things will certainly get more challenging for Carlo as the Bruins get deeper into this training camp.

“I just want to keep the same mentality, same energy. Show a little bit more physicality. I felt like I did that, but definitely could close a little quicker in a few instances overall. I just want to keep building on every game,” said Carlo. “There are some very strong guys on the puck in this league and throughout this game they had those guys out there definitely. Overall, you just have to compete just as hard as them.

“You’re dealing with NHL guys out there. [The Blue Jackets] had some pretty good guys in their lineup tonight and everyone is competing for jobs on both sides…so the speed was phenomenal. I loved it.”

The Bruins loved what they saw of Carlo in a pretty big opportunity right out of the gate this preseason, and now the teenager has set the bar if he wants to keep pushing with a hockey club that needs to upgrade their defense with strong, young players. 

Talking Points: Young Bruins 'took advantage' of opportunities

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Talking Points: Young Bruins 'took advantage' of opportunities

GOLD STAR: Danton Heinen got off to a slow start in his first NHL preseason game, but was operating at full efficiency when he redirected a Brandon Carlo point shot early in the third period for the game-tying goal that eventually pushed the game into the shootout. Heinen finished second on the B’s with 22:10 of ice time, had four shot attempts and blocked a shot along with the goal, and had another power play chance robbed on the doorstep with a sweeping glove save from Curtis McElhinny. It’s clear from the large amount of ice time that the Bruins want to get a good look at Heinen, and that he’s got a solid chance at an NHL job based on his added development in a big time Denver college program for the last couple of seasons.

BLACK EYE: Peter Mueller wasn’t bad, but zero shots on net along with a penalty in 13:49 of ice time isn’t the kind of performance that’s going to force you to notice him. The Bruins coaching staff then put him out as the final shooter in the shootout with another chance to make a play, and the former Coyotes star forward couldn’t do anything with it before the Columbus game-winner. He clearly has skill, good size and looks like he can make things happen with the puck on his stick, but Mueller needs to make more plays leading to tangible results if he wants to earn a roster spot with so many talented young wingers around him. Both Heinen and Jake DeBrusk cracked the score sheet tonight, and Mueller did not.

HONORABLE MENTION:  Give Jimmy Hayes credit, he showed up and played well in what he hopes is going to be a giant rebound season with the Bruins. He scored the game’s first goal on a great give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk, and he was active and strong paying the price in front of the net while engaged in battles that left him with a giant fat lip after the game was over. It was from a Dalton Prout shot at the end of the second period, and it was Hayes paying the price in a game that really doesn’t matter to a veteran player like him. That’s a good sign if he’s willing to keep doing it, as was his decision to stick up for his smaller teammates when big Blue Jackets D-man Oleg Yevenko started pushing people around in the second period. Hayes finished with the goal, four shots on net and put in an honest night’s work for a team that needs it from him on a nightly basis.

TURNING POINT: For the Bruins it was a 5-on-3 at the end of the second period that didn’t get them a goal, but pulled the momentum of the game in their direction while getting Danton Heinen and Seth Griffith into the flow of things. Both players were robbed on the doorstep by diving saves from Curtis McElhinney, but bolstered their determination to make something happen in the third period down a goal. Only a few minutes of ice time later, Heinen was redirecting a Brandon Carlo shot past the Columbus goaltender for the game-tying goal and the B’s were on equal footing with the Blue Jackets. The power play was 0-for-5 on the night, but most of their PP possessions were actually decent considering how little they’ve practiced it this early in camp.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 – the number of shot attempts for Jakub Zboril, who was more good than bad for the Bruins in the first preseason game for the Black and Gold. He set up the first initial transition pass that led to Jimmy Hayes’ goal, and was active while aggressively playing the position and showing off his skills that were very clearly worthy of a first round pick.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “There were a lot of young players in the lineup. I won’t go through all of them, but I thought quite a few of them acquitted themselves quite well. They were given opportunities to do that and some of them certainly took advantage of that.” – Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy after the 3-2 shootout loss.