Bruins try to recapture defensive identity

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Bruins try to recapture defensive identity

BOSTON -- Sometimes, players don't realize how bad they are until they see it on video.

That's why Bruins coach Claude Julien had his players show up to the TD Garden on Sunday to focus "specifically" on the video of their 4-2 loss in Montreal on Saturday night.

"When you see it, it kind of opens our eyes," said Julien. "We've attacked different areas, at times, and showed them. But today was more of the whole package. And that's why we kept our whole day on video, more than on practice. You need to realize it, before you can do something about it."

Sundays are usually the team's day off. And while the now 3-7 B's didn't skate today, they did have to come in and watch film of what they've been doing wrong.

"When things are going like this, obviously, I'm not really surprised with having to come in today and having to look at things," said Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. "Because that's the only way we're going to come out of it. It's about putting some work into it, some hours into it, and finding ways. No one else but us can do it."

Amidst rumors of potential trades because of an early-season slide that only seems to be getting worse, the Bruins are confident with the players they have. For no other reason than the fact that a majority of the players inside that dressing room hoisted the Stanley Cup several months ago.

But everyone's in agreement. Something has to change. Not personnel, not lines, not defensive pairings. That change needs to come from re-capturing their pride and identity that led them to a championship run last season.

"Right now, when things are extremely hard, you've really got to rely on your structure and doing things properly," said Julien on Sunday. "Get your structure back, and get your execution back, and keep it simple. And work from there.

"We've got to get back to the things that made us successful," added Julien. "We're a team that likes to put pucks forward and move it forward, and put it behind their D's and go to work and grind it out and win those battles. From there, a lot of things happen for us. As the game goes on, we get more space, we get more opportunities to make plays. We've just got to get back to doing those things."

And after watching video on Sunday, now they know.

It's all about defense.

"Where our team's strength comes from, is that, anytime we've been good defensively, we've been able to feed offensively from that," said Julien. "When we come back hard, when we back check hard, and all five guys come back in the zone, and we cause turnovers and we go up the ice together, that's where our strength, offensively, comes from."

Sunday's video session brought some clarity to what they've been doing wrong. Too many players caught up-ice. Not enough players getting back on defense. Relying on individual efforts to produce goals.

The Bruins know that's not who they are. They know that's not what got their hands on the Cup.

They just needed to see it on video to realize just how much they've steered away from that style.

"We're not a very good team when we stretch or try those long passes, because when a guy gets the puck, he's by himself," said Julien. "We're a team that relies a lot on support and chips and races, and stuff like that. So, our strength offensively, comes from how well we play defensively. I've always said that, you do well defensively, you're going to get the puck a lot quicker. This is what we are, as a team, and this is what we have to understand.

"That's how our team is built. And there's nothing wrong with being built that way, because it got us a Stanley Cup last year."

Bruins come away impressed with new practice facility

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Bruins come away impressed with new practice facility

BRIGHTON – It’s been a summer brimming with anticipation for Bruins players and management alike with the prospect of moving into a new, state-of-the-art practice facility.

The Bruins contingent hosted Jimmy Vesey at their new Warrior Ice Arena home a couple of weeks ago and the B’s players christened the ice by kicking off their informal captain’s practices on Monday morning.

Torey Krug, David Krejci, Adam McQuaid, John-Michael Liles, Noel Acciari and Frank Vatrano all hit the ice to work with a local goaltender and went through skating drills for the hour-plus to get the blood pumping. Krejci left the ice after roughly 15 minutes as he recovers from left hip surgery, but was still left excited at the prospect of practicing in the new digs after spending his entire Bruins career with Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington as their practice home.

The arena doesn’t officially open until the Bruins and New Balance hold a grand opening on Sept. 8, but color several Bruins veterans impressed.

“It’s beautiful. It’s great. It’s a little bit different than Wilmington,” said Krejci. “You guys will get a chance to see it next week, but it’s pretty cool.”

The captain’s practices will continue in earnest with more Bruins players joining the group as the calendar gets closer to the start of training camp. The expectation is that all of the B’s skaters will be wholly impressed with the new facility. 

Clearly, it’s got all the bells and whistles of a new rink, and the closer proximity is a bonus for Bruins players that these days live in and around Boston rather than in the distant suburbs.

There's even the distinct possibility in the not-so distant future that the Bruins could start holding game day morning skates at the practice facility rather than at the Garden. It's something already done in Montreal, where the Habs have a similar setup with their practice rink in Brossard, just outside of the city. 

“It’s beautiful. For the guys that have been the scenes and doing all the work in Wilmington all of these years, it’s great for them to be a part of this and move into a new building,” said Krug. “I’m fortunate to be here and be a part of it. That’s exciting.”

Krug joked that being an early arriver at Warrior Arena doesn’t guarantee him one of the big lockers in the dressing room once training camp gets going: “I’m pretty sure Zee [captain Zdeno Chara] will kick me out of whatever stall I picked. It’s obviously exciting to be one of the first guys skating on this ice.”

 

Countdown to camp: Austin Czarnik

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Countdown to camp: Austin Czarnik

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Austin Czarnik.

View the gallery here

Krejci, Krug aim to be ready for Bruins opening night

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Krejci, Krug aim to be ready for Bruins opening night

BRIGHTON – Only two Bruins players spoke to the media following the team’s first informal captain’s practice at the new Warrior Ice Arena facility, and it happened to be the two key players coming back from offseason surgery.

Torey Krug had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder shortly after last season was over, and David Krejci had hip surgery to take care of a lower body issue that had bothered him for each of the last two seasons. Both were on the ice on Monday morning along with John-Michael Liles, Adam McQuaid, Frank Vatrano and Noel Acciari, though Krejci hopped off the ice 15 minutes into the session once the skating drills started to ramp up.

Similarly, Krug wasn’t taking any one-timers or winding up for slap shots while working with the puck during drills amidst a six month recovery window that’s expected to carry over into October. Both said that playing on opening night was their goal at this point still weeks ahead of NHL training camp, but a decision should be forthcoming for Krejci when it comes to the World Cup of Hockey. It didn’t sound like the playmaking pivot was going to end up competing for Team Czech Republic in the tournament, but Krejci isn't shutting the door just yet.

“It’s another day closer. I did a little bit more stuff today and I’m obviously already on the ice, so I’m kind of getting there. This injury takes time, but I like where I’m at right now,” said Krejci, who originally hurt the left hip in the final preseason game prior to the 2014-15 seasons. “Every day is a step closer. I’m excited for tomorrow. If you asked me a long time ago [about the World Cup] then I would have said ‘yes’, but right now I just want to get to 100 percent.

“If I’m ready then that would be awesome, but if not then I have to do what I have to do to be 100 percent. I’m in contact with the national team coach, and we talk pretty every week. They’re asking about my updates, so they know what’s going on. I’m sure they have some backup plan if it’s not going to work out. We’ll see what happens.”

It’s not quite as cut-and-dry with Krug, who will start slowly going into training camp while ramping up to being ready as quickly as possible. Similar to Krejci, the shoulder injury was something Krug played with pretty much all of last season while scoring a career-low four goals in 81 games. The 25-year-old D-man wasn’t using the bum right shoulder as an excuse, but said he’s looking forward to feeling good as new again as soon as possible.

“When you miss the playoffs it’s a long summer, but I was very fortunate going through the shoulder surgery that I had a lot of time to recover,” said Krug, who averaged a career-high 21:37 of ice time last season. “Hopefully I’ll be good to go for the first game. I didn’t know what to expect, but from a medical standpoint they tell me that [I’m ahead of schedule]. I’d never been through a surgery or anything like this, but I feel good.

“It’s probably a harder road, but I’m in good hands and they tell me I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m not even using my shoulder shooting the puck. I’m taking it slow and day-by-day with plenty of time still leading up to camp. It’s probably going to be a play it by ear situation [to start camp]. They said six month, so camp would be about five months. So I doubt I’ll be taking part in the physical aspect of it [to start camp]. We’ll see how it goes.”

The bad news is that Krejci and Krug had to go through surgery at all last spring, but it sounds like both aren’t going to miss much, if any, time at all for the B’s once the regular season winds up.