Haggerty: Bruins believe going into Game 6

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Haggerty: Bruins believe going into Game 6

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Tyler Seguin tweeted out a single word after last weekends frustrating 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 5. It was a one word reaction to the game that placed the Bruins right on the brink of elimination in the Stanley Cup Final.

He tweeted whats become the mantra for the Bruins from the time they fell down 0-2 to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round: Believe.

Seguin didnt have a premonition of any kind. The puck prodigy is certainly no slap-shooting soothsayer, but he was still moved to repeat the motto thats pushed Boston all the way to within sniffing distance of the Cup.

I dont know. Its a do-or-die coming back home and I know a lot of fans follow me on twitter, said Seguin. I thought that was the right thing. Thats been the message word around this town with the B in Boston Bruins and the believe. I was in that mood for whatever it was, and Im still in that mood now.

Since choking away a 3-0 lead against the Flyers last spring, the Bruins have picked up a bandwagon full of believers and Johnny-Boychuk-come-lately type followers ready to experience their first Stanley Cup championship. For many, it would be their closest link to the hockey nirvana that invaded Boston with Bobby Orr in the golden age of the 1970s.

The Bruins face a difficult road littered with challenges, to be sure, but they sit only two wins away from getting their names etched on Lord Stanleys hockey hardware forever.

Despite their backs being against the wall, there wasnt a lot of stress or strain in the Bruins' dressing room leading up to Monday nights Game 6. In fact, Tim Thomas was so loose, he walked up to the podium for his press conference and was playful with the media. Smiling, he asked if anybody else could smell "popcorn cooking."

It seems that a 37-year-old fretting about his brush with hockey immortality wouldnt be ready with the jokes at the microphone. But then again, Thomas isnt even close to your garden variety hockey player.

Likewise, Patrice Bergeron sees what are essentially two Game 7s in a unique light. He does not look at Game 6 (or a potential Game 7) as a pressure-packed threat. For him it's an opportunity. An opportunity to add to his already stacked trophy case with Olympic and World Junior gold medals.

This chance to win a Stanley Cup is a childhood dream and you have to enjoy the moment, said Bergeron, who has three assists and a plus-1 along with 17 shots on net in five finals games. Its a great challenge. But its something we can do. Tomorrow its up to us in front of our fans to take all that energy and emotion thats going to be in the building and carry that out on the ice.

There really is nothing to lose at home for the Black and Gold in this series after punishing the Canucks in Boston to the tune of a 12-1 combined score. They played so well at home in Game 4 that they chased Roberto Luongo with all kinds of pressure and body traffic in front of the net.

Third periods on the road have been a struggle for the Bruins, but before they worry about that, they know they need to take care of business at home in a make-or-break situation -- the kind of situation thats brought out the best in Boston all season long.

I look at our resolve that was there during the season and different times when we have to come up large whether its Game 7 in the playoffs or sometime during the season when we needed certain wins, said Claude Julien. Our guys have always responded well and I have a lot of confidence in our team. The reason were here is because those guys have delivered. I dont expect that to change.

Its quite a story that the Bruins have come so far in people's eyes that they are expected to dominate Game 6 and get to Game 7 in Vancouver where absolutely anything can happen.

They've proven that the B on their sweaters stands for more than "Boston" or "Bruins," now its up to them to make it happen.

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

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.