B's reflect on time with Cup, ready for new season

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B's reflect on time with Cup, ready for new season

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

The Bruins are under no illusions about the difficulty of repeating as Stanley Cup champions once the 2011-12 NHL season gets underway.

They know just how much of a struggle it was to get to the NHL mountaintop last year, and its going to be even more challenging the second time around. They are the team with the targets on their back that other NHL squads will measure themselves against.

There hasnt been a back-to-back champion in 14 years since the Detroit Red Wings captured the Cup in 1997 and 1998, and that means no real dynasties since the current salary cap era was put in place.

The Bruins are a little bit of an exception to a lot of those teams because they have much of their squad intact, and lost only a handful of contributors from last years Cup-worthy team. That means pretty much everyone in the Boston dressing room knows whats coming this season.

Teams always play their best against the champions," Dennis Seidenberg said. "Everybody knows that in the locker room and is ready for the challenge. I really think that can only help us and make us better.

The Red Wings and Penguins both made it to the Finals in 2008 and 2009 with each time taking home one series win, and thats no small feat. But the Bs know that the long playoff run, short summer, and grueling upcoming season are all working against them as they start to crank things up for the first official day of training camp on September 16.

Nathan Horton didnt get to play in those final few games of the Stanley Cup Finals due to the concussion suffered at the hands of Aaron Rome in Game 3, and he definitely wants to get the full experience this time around.

Its such a great feeling," Horton said. "Im still on a high and I know a lot of the other guys are still as well. We know once it starts over were all even again, and its our time to win it again.

Thats what we wanted and its why were here. Its definitely going to be tough that were on top now and its tough to stay there. Everyone knows that and is prepared to play like we did last time. But thats the challenge.

Bruins management wants the players to get their rest and spend as much time away from the ice as possible before jumping into training camp in September a necessary step when so many are expecting a Stanley Cup hangover to hit them hard after playing an additional two months and 25 games of playoff hockey.

So the Bs will get as much rest as possible while getting themselves ready for next season, and be prepared for the mental and physical grind that awaits them as reigning Stanley Cup champs starting this fall.

Nathan Horton said that hes heard through the grapevine about some of the rumored post-concussion syndrome problems that Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby has still been dealing with this summer. The Bs winger also said hes thanking his lucky stars that hes been symptom-free since a week or two after the Finals were over, and has been able to resume his normal workouts with any setbacks or issues.

Im not sure exactly, but Ive heard that hes still having troubles. I feel really lucky, said Horton. Concussions arent fun, obviously, and to have a bad one is tough. Im fortunate to feel good and not have any setbacks.

Tuukka Rask has recovered nicely from knee surgery and is 100 percent healthy and motivated heading into Bruins training camp next month. He also made some nifty plays at shortstop in his first game ever playing softball for Milan Lucics Rock and Jock Softball Charity Game, and the Finland native managed to make himself a human highlight reel in the process.

Daniel Paille spent most of his summer in Boston, and said that he's enjoyed getting to know his neighbors in the North End while exploring his NHL home base. The versatile Bruins winger said the pasta dinners and walks on Hanover Street were altogether enjoyable, but it did go by a little too quickly.

It went by quick, but I relaxed and really enjoyed it, said Paille. In certain parts of the city you get noticed, but in the downtown area I could really walk around without getting noticed. I made some really close friends in the North End. I definitely enjoyed the summer.

Paille also was the first NHL player to ever take the Cup on the Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist boat that travels around the Falls, and said that his outside-the-box day with the Cup was thoroughly enjoyable.

It was something Id thought about after we won. Doing that was one of the best things I could think of. It was a special moment and I was glad that I brought it on there. I asked the Cup custodian every time I wanted to move around with it, and he said okay as long as I didnt let go of it near the water. Obviously I had a tighter grip than normal on the Cup when it was near the water.

Dennis Seidenberg brought the Stanley Cup to Atlantic City in New Jersey with his family this summer instead of his native Germany, and laid out the reasons when he spoke to the media at Milan Lucics Rock and Jock Charity Softball Game on Wednesday night.

"My wife was pregnant with our third kid, so it would have been tough," he said. "I havent been back to Germany in five years, so it would have been a lot of travel and visiting different people. It would have been too much, so we decided to just stay back in the United States and take the time to relax a little bit.

The German defenseman is hoping for a repeat this season, so he can finally bring the Cup to his home country for the first time.

I should have taken it because its never been there before, said Seidenberg. But theres always a chance to do it a second time and get it back there next year.

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

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

Haggerty: From top to bottom, still no urgency from Bruins

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins pulled the worst of their no-shows on Monday afternoon in the 4-0 shutout loss to the Islanders.

It was a lethargic, mediocre start in the first period that devolved into the bottom dropping out on the Black and Gold when they allowed three unanswered goals in the second. Then, to top it all off, they showed zero urgency or push to make a comeback in the final period. 

It was “unacceptable” in the words of the Bruins players from beginning to end with careless, elementary mistakes in the defensive zone and absolutely zero sustained push in the offensive zone despite a deceiving 32 shots on net.

So, where was the urgency for a Bruins team that’s barely ahead of the Maple Leafs and Senators in the Atlantic Division despite having played six more games than each of those two?

Apparently the Bruins were feeling a little cocky after playing a solid five-game stretch where they’d gone 3-1-1 and taken down the Panthers, Blues and Flyers while elevating their level of play. Heart and soul team leader Patrice Bergeron admitted as much on Tuesday morning as the Bruins cancelled practice and turned their attention toward righting the ship Wednesday night in Detroit.

It was frankly a little stunning to hear Bergeron admit that his Bruins team thought they could win just by showing up on Monday afternoon, but that’s exactly what he copped to in something of an apologetic way.

Brad Marchand said Monday postgame that the Bruins “just weren’t ready [to play]” against the Islanders, and it sounded like his linemate agreed with him.

“It’s about realizing that you can’t take teams lightly, or take the foot off the gas pedal for a period, for a game, or whatever. It hurts us every time we do it, so we have to learn and realize that it just cannot happen. Teams are too good and the points are too valuable for us,” said Bergeron. “You never want to do that, but at the same time maybe it was something that happened because it was a terrible start, and to not respond when they scored the goals. Maybe that’s what happened yesterday.

“As much as you don’t want it to happen, maybe we thought it was going to be an easier game than it actually was against them.”

On the one hand, it’s somewhat shocking to hear that admission from a player that’s always played with full work ethic and an effort level that’s never been questioned. But Bergeron was also a minus-3 in the 4-0 loss and was every bit as guilty as everybody else up and down the roster for the team’s most pathetic loss of the season at a time when results are all that matter.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, though, because the lack of urgency on the bench is mirrored by the lack of urgency upstairs in the Bruins management office right now. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told the Boston Globe last week that he’s considering a move with the head coach along with a number of other things to spark a team treading water, but it doesn’t feel like a major move is on the horizon with this Bruins team.

Trade talks are still in the formative, discussion stages as GMs like Joe Sakic and John Chayka are overvaluing their players looking for a king’s ransom for guys like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. While Claude Julien should be under the microscope with a team sleepwalking its way through perhaps a third season in a row without the playoffs, it also doesn’t feel like the Bruins are going to pull the trigger on that move until the offseason at the earliest.

This humble hockey writer still insists that this playoff-caliber Bruins team plays at times like a one that needs a swift kick in the backside. Perhaps Julien isn’t up for it after 10 long, successful years of battles with the same core group.   

So, what is there to do then besides make cosmetic moves like shipping underperforming Anton Khudobin down to Providence, or rearrange the deck chairs on a third and fourth line that it’s difficult to tell apart on most days in Boston?

If the Bruins front office wants to truly get to the bottom of their team’s lack of urgency on the ice, perhaps a look in the mirror might be in order. Because that same lack of urgency is playing out with a management group that’s watching their team sink into the Atlantic Division muck right now and seems gun-shy on making a move that could rattle cages.

“Right now where we are in the standings, we’ve got a lot of games to play but we’re still in a playoff spot,” said Julien. “We try and play with the expectations that we have, and that’s to do the best with what we’ve got. We’ve got a lot of new faces and we’re trying to build with what we’ve got here moving forward.”

Certainly nobody is talking about trading away their blue chip prospects like Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy, but there are veteran players on Boston’s current roster that aren’t cut out for battling into the postseason with a young team. It’s plain to see when a middling hockey team can’t find the inspiration to go out and take care of business against a bad Islanders group on a sleepy Monday afternoon just a month after they made the same mistake against the same team on home ice.

The Bruins showed in a five-game stretch leading up to the Islanders debacle that they should be held to a higher standard - that of a team that should qualify for the postseason. But one question arose again and again watching the poorest of poor efforts play out on Monday afternoon: why should the Bruins players show any feet-in-the-fire urgency on the ice when it doesn’t feel like there’s much feet-in-the-fire urgency from upper management to improve the flailing hockey club?

Until that organizational dynamic changes, it’s difficult to see things getting much better, or worse, for a Bruins team that looks destined for the mediocre middle once again this season. 
 

Bruins cancel practice to 'regroup' after bad loss to Islanders

Bruins cancel practice to 'regroup' after bad loss to Islanders

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins were supposed to hit the ice for the eighth day in a row on Tuesday following their empty 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon, but those plans were scrubbed.

The reeling Black and Gold instead cancelled practice, with only Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Zane McIntyre taking the ice at Warrior Ice Arena and the rest of the B’s hitting the giant reset button after an embarrassing loss.

“I think it’s one of those [things] where you’ve got to regroup and recharge the batteries, and feel better,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Maybe a little bit of fatigue was part of it [Monday vs. the Isles] and you use a day like today to look forward, look at videos and be better the next day. It happens today and we have another game tomorrow [against Detroit].”

While it is true that the Bruins and Winnipeg Jets have played more games than anybody else in the NHL in this wacky season with a condensed schedule, the B’s leaders weren’t having it as an excuse with both the Maple Leafs and Senators holding an incredible six games in hand on Boston. Blown opportunities against bad opponents are exactly the recipe for missing the playoffs, as they have in each of the past two seasons, and the Bruins are tracking to do that again.

“All of the teams are in the same situation. It’s about managing and finding ways to be at your best every night and in every game. Yes, maybe [the condensed schedule] is part of it, but you can’t just put the blame on that. We’re professionals and we need to show up every game.”

The Bruins didn’t show up against the Islanders on Monday afternoon and basically pulled their second no-show vs. the Isles on home ice this season. There’s no excuse for that given the B’s current situation battling for the postseason. 

Maybe a day off the ice will improve that situation and maybe it’s simply rewarding a team that didn’t earn it on Monday afternoon, but the B’s have to hope it’s much more of the former than the latter.