Haggerty: Bruins have been here before

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Haggerty: Bruins have been here before

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON The Bruins have been here before, so it should be widely understood if they dont panic down 1-0 in a playoff series with the other teams goaltender seemingly standing tall with confidence.

It was exactly a year ago the Bs were down 1-0 to the Buffalo Sabres in their opening round series of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Sabres had just watched goaltender Ryan Miller make 38 saves en route to a 2-1 victory a win that saw the Bs outshoot Buffalo by a 24-8 margin in the second period without much in the way of goals or production.

We could be a little more physical than we were last night, said Bruins winger Michael Ryder. Weve got to get traffic in front of Carey Price and find ways to beat him. We lost to Buffalo in the first game, and Miller was a great goalie too.

Youve to find a way to beat those guys in a playoff series, and not just one game. You have to get better with each game, and learn and adjust to whats going on each time you play. Well make some adjustments and I think well be fine.

The good news: that series had a happy ending.

The bad news: that series didnt feature the Bruins attempting to win in a Habs den thats served as an arena full of kryptonite for more than a calendar year, and now Boston must win a game in Montreal after losing home ice advantage.

The Bruins are determined to make sure its only a 1-1 series instead of trailing 0-2 with the raucous Bell Centre on tap.

We lost the first game against Buffalo last year. It happens. Its just one game, said Krejci, who was held without a shot on net and got completely shut down by the shadow job of Tomas Plekanec. Its a tight series. Weve talked about it being a long series maybe seven games and were ready for it.

We want to win. We have to win. We will win. Obviously we dont want to go up to Montreal with them holding a 2-0 lead. That would be really tough.

Thats as close as Krejci will ever come to a Czech Republic version of Joe Namath predicting a postseason win before it happens, but it underscores how high the confidence is still running for the Bruins.

There was some frustration just as it was there in a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, but there was also a nagging feeling that the Bs hadnt really made the Vezina Trophy-winning Miller work all that hard. Just as they didnt do much besides shoot the puck directly into Carey Prices chest in the shutout loss that saw the Habs netminder make 31 saves in the Montreal win in Game One.

Its Stanley Cup dj vu, and it gives many of the veteran Bruins proof positive that things can be turned around after just about everything imaginable went against the Black and Gold in Game One. That includes 31 shots on net without much in the way of gritty interior work by the Bs forwards attempting to bust through Montreals inner defense around Price.

Big bodies like Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton werent able to bust through Montreals defensive pillars in order to make Prices life either A) uncomfortable or B) downright deplorable. Instead Price saw wide lanes open up each time a Bs player wound up and blasted a shot at the Montreal net, and wasnt bothered by many scoring chances after Brad Marchand fanned on a point blank shot in the first period.

Last season against the Sabres, Boston improved dynamically when it came to rattling Millers cage between the pipes, and that pressure allowed them to win four of the final five games en route to winning the playoff series.

That kind of recent past performance can give the Bs plenty to work with, and Boston hopes to respond as they did with a five goal barrage in Game 2 last season an offensive outburst that was keyed by Michael Ryder working around the net and Chara blasting away from the point with bodies flying all around the net.

Thats the recipe for success in Boston if the Bs players are willing to pay the price.

The Buffalo series was out of my mind. It doesnt matter who were playing, we have to find a way to score goals, said Shawn Thornton. If traffic is the answer then traffic is the answer. If its something else then so be it.

Were going to come out, play hard and get things going in the right way.

The right way starts with making Price feel like hes in the same inhospitable place that saw him yanked from the game in each of his last two regular season starts against the Bruins at TD Garden and it ends with the Bruins knotting up a series desperately waiting for the real Black and Gold unit to stand up and be counted.
Just like in Buffalo a year ago.

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

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Roughly 12 hours after embattled Bruins coach Claude Julien bristled at a question about his job security and labeled it “shock journalism” in the heat of the moment after a tight loss to the Blackhawks, the B’s bench boss delivered a classy, heartfelt response to the same question.

Julien was asked about it in French by a reporter from the Montreal Gazette, but answered in English because of the “loyalty he feels to the people in Boston.”

In essence, Julien basically said he should be relieved of his duties if he’s deemed to be behind what ails the Black and Gold, but he’s going to keep working to fix things until that day comes.

It was exactly the kind of response you would expect from a coach who's taken the B’s to the mountaintop in his 10 years running the team and will always be respected and loved in Boston long after his coaching days are done.

“How do I deal with all of the rumors and all that is going on? I didn’t feel like [Friday night] was the appropriate time for me to answer that after a game where you’re emotions are pretty high. I wasn’t getting into that, but to be honest with you my job is to coach the hockey club,” said Julien. “Am I worried about my job? No, I’m not. Because it’s not my job to worry about it. My job is to fix things, and my job is to coach this team and do everything I can. If I become one of the reasons that we’re not doing well, then management has to make that decision.

“It’s not my decision to make. I’m not quitting on this team. I’m not quitting on anybody. I’m not quitting on management. I’m ready and willing to go through the hard times, and I said that at the end of last year. If it’s deemed my fault, then I shouldn’t be here, and that’s all I can say.”

While the Bruins roster is clearly less than perfect and has a larger dose of youthful players than in years past, Julien also freely admitted that they should be held to a higher standard after proving many nights that they should be a playoff team. That’s the mandate from Bruins ownership and that’s the challenge that Julien has willingly accepted.

It’s also the challenge that’s falling a bit short now as they’ve lost three crushing games in a row and have fallen behind the Ottawa Senators in the playoff standings, with Toronto also right behind them holding six games in hand.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

Julien and the Bruins are headed to Pittsburgh for a Sunday matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and will have two games against the red-hot Pens headed into an All-Star break weekend that must feel like a well-earned oasis for Julien at this point in the season. 

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder.