Cup hangover weighing on Bruins

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Cup hangover weighing on Bruins

CHICAGO The Bruins will probably be doing a little more chirping than usual on the ice Saturday night when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks.

But theyll actually be on a fact-finding mission rather than the usual insults hurled all over the ice.

While the Bruins have issues with the Stanley Cup hangover phrase itself, the Bs players also cant deny that something has been missing from the mental, physical and emotional preparation for the first four games this season.

The Bruins played a solid, satisfactory game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the other three have been to be kind subpar and fairly uninspired.

The Blackhawks know what the Bruins are going through because they had every possible manner of adversity hit them last season after bringing the Cup back to the Windy City.

The team was torn apart with salary cap constraints serving as the main culprit, injuries chipped away at the depth throughout the season and the consistency just wasnt there all season aside from a stupendously excellent season from Captain Serious, Jonathan Toews.

I can't speak to what's going on over there, but what we went through was more of a season-long thing than a quick hangover in October, said Chicago forward Patrick Sharp. It took us a while to build (roster) chemistry. It was not so much in the room but on the ice with line combinations. We had a lot of injuries, too.

So the Blackhawks know the challenges presented by every team saving their best shot for the champs, and just how difficult it can be to dig deep into the emotionalphysical reservoir coming off a nine month hockey season of more than 100 hockey games.

But the Hawks also know that things were very different for them with only nine regular roster players that returned from their Stanley Cup roster for the following season.

By comparison the Bruins had 18 players (16 skaters and both goaltenders) return from last years Cup winning squad, and essentially get another crack at it this season. Thats a big distinction to a guy like Patrick Kane that saw his Cup-winning hockey club dismantled in a salary cap chop shop before it was their turn to defend the belt.

The Bruins are a great team. People talk about hangovers, but we lost 9, 10 guys from our team last year, said Kane. They haven't lost many and it seems they've made some improvements with guys like Joe Corvo coming over.

If anything they're just as good as last year, especially with guys like Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara and their core guys they seem to be in pretty good shape. It will be a good test for sure.

Its expected that a hotly contested game against the Blackhawks at a packed United Center would bring out of the best in the Bruins, but the key for them is approaching Saturday as they would a random Wednesday night game in Winnipeg. The Blackhawks got off to an 8-9-2 start last season through mid-November and werent in the Western Conference playoff mix at that point, but managed to scrape and claw their way into the eighth and final playoff position when the regular season ended.

They're a proud bunch and they don't want to get too far in the hole, said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville of the Bruins. Our start put us in a tough spot early (last year). We left valuable points on the table. We know it's a dangerous game for us again. Its a different situation in this instance, but we know the value of where we're at and the value of home ice as well.

The Bruins are off to the 1-3 start and have already frittered away potentially important points to Colorado and Carolina in the early going, but they need to start reversing their seasonal fortune if they hope to avoid repeating Chicagos bumpy season after the Stanley Cup.

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that. 

 

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara said he is “feeling better” after going through a full practice with the Bruins, but the captain won’t be making the one game road trip to Buffalo for Saturday afternoon’s matinee game vs. the Sabres. 

Chara was going through line rushes and battle drills with the rest of his teammates while practicing for the second day in a row, but made it clear that his lower body injury hasn’t been cleared for game action yet. 

“It’s day-to-day. It feels better…yeah. But it’s still day-to-day,” said a rather laconic Chara when it came to questions about his injury. “It would feel much better [to play] than it feels [not playing].”

Claude Julien said his 39-year-old defenseman has moved into true “day-to-day” status as he nears a return after missing what will be his sixth game in a row on Saturday afternoon, but that he isn’t quite ready to go just yet.

“[Chara] and [Noel] Acciari won’t be on the trip,” said Julien. “I think [Chara] is getting pretty close. When you see him at practice things are going pretty well for him. I think that the term day-to-day is fitting for him right now. A lot of times when we say day-to-day we don’t know whether it’s going to be two days, three days or even a week. But in his case I would say that day-to-day is really day-to-day now with him.” 

One thing the Bruins can be heartened by is that they’ve managed to survive without Chara: the B’s have gone 2-2-1 and allowed just nine goals in the five games since their No. 1 defenseman went down. They have been able to continue collecting points in sometimes ugly, workmanlike fashion. 

That gives the Bruins the luxury of not rushing their D-man along before he’s ready and gives some of their other defensemen added confidence that they can effectively do the job with or without their 6-foot-9 stopper.