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

Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

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Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

It’s not difficult to see why Austin Czarnik might have been a little overlooked headed into this Bruins training camp when forecasting favorites among the forwards to win a roster spot on the big club. After all he’s only 5-foot-9 and 167-pounds coming off just one very solid season at the AHL level for the Providence Bruins, and there are bigger, stronger forwards candidates that maybe rank a bit higher on the prospect list than him.

But the 23-year-old Czarnik put together an excellent training camp last fall before finishing with 20 goals and 61 points for the P-Bruins last season, and now he’s doing the exact same thing again this time around.

“Yeah, I feel more comfortable. I think we could have been a lot better in a lot of areas. Overall I think everyone is just happy to be back on the ice,” said Czarnik, who along with Frank Vatrano was one of the real starts of camp last season. “You know that type of mentality and you know mistakes are going to happen, and you’ve just got to move forward from it so everyone’s happy to be back.”

The former Miami University star is clearly happy to be back, and it’s showing on the ice with each chance he gets to show his tenacity, withering fore-check and his willingness to crash the net despite his smallish stature.

Czarnik was one of the most dangerous forwards on the ice for the Black and Gold in their preseason opener, and collected a key assist on Boston’s first goal of the game when he pushed a puck through the neutral zone before setting up on odd man rush for Jimmy Hayes and Jake DeBrusk.

This time around Czarnik scored the game’s only goal on a nifty rush during four-on-four play through the offensive zone by Ryan Spooner, who drew in the defense and dished to Czarnik for a wide open tap-in chance.

So it’s a couple of big plays in each of the first two preseason games that led to goals, and a genuinely excellent level of play throughout both contests. It’s something the Bruins coaching staff has taken note of along with his skating speed and hardnosed mentality, and now they have to figure if it fits in with their other NHL pieces.

“We were just talking about it. Everybody has that same feeling. He’s playing well. He moves well. He’s on the puck. He competes, and that’s the thing you’re looking for really,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “Like right now, we know there’s going to be mistakes made by a lot of our players, especially the younger ones.

“We’re looking to see who’s got that competitive, you know, that competitive fire. [We’re looking for] who’s going to go out there and who can compete at a high level. I know he’s not big in stature, but he plays bigger than he is. He’s had two pretty good games so far.”

Czarnik had a couple of good games early in B’s camp last year before flat-lining a bit at the end when the NHL jobs were seriously on the line, and the 23-year-old wants that story to change endings this time around. It remains to be seen where he’s going to fit as yet another center among Boston’s group of training camp players this month, but Czarnik might just force the Bruins to make a tough decision if he keeps playing at his current high level.   

Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

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Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

GOLD STAR: Take your pick: Steve Ott, Drew Miller and Luke Glendening torched the Bruins with veteran savvy and toughness against a very young defensemen unit trying to survive in the second preseason game. Ott and Glendening each scored a goal and finished with three points, and Miller finished with a goal and two points while all three forwards had a plus-3 rating for the night. All of their goals came off winning battles, crashing the net and taking advantage of defensive miscues. The goals provided a good lesson to the young kids that have a ways to go before they’re NHL ready at this point in their careers. It certainly must have been a kick to the stones to many Bruins fans when “Brave” Steve Ott was named the No. 1 Star of the game after it was all over, but that was certainly appropriate.

BLACK EYE: Adam McQuaid was the most experienced defensemen out on the ice for the Bruins on Wednesday night, and it was a rough night for him with so many young guys around him on the back end. McQuaid finished a minus-2 in 17:41 with a couple of hits and got a little better as the game was going on, but was on ice for two of the first three goals allowed to Detroit in a really lackluster middle section of the game. In general, it was about more than just one player, though. There were blown assignments in the D-zone and some really noticeable lost battles leading to scoring chances for a Red Wings group that aggressively took it to the Bruins. This is a game that will leave the Bruins coaches with plenty of video material moving forward.

TURNING POINT: The real slippage came early in the game when the Bruins failed to score on some good power play chances for Peter Mueller and Matt Beleskey, and then allowed two goals within 19 seconds of each other in the first period. The first goal was a PP one for the Red Wings with Ryan Spooner whistled for a face-off infraction, and the second was simply the Bruins falling asleep at the wheel just seconds after the first goal was scored. Lost battles led to a bang-bang play in front with Steve Ott scoring as Malcolm Subban was turned around looking for the puck, and the B’s were reeling headed into the first intermission. Only a Subban shoulder save kept it from being 3-0 at the end of the first, and that was something the B’s never seemed to rebound from.

HONORABLE MENTION: Austin Czarnik scored the B’s only goal off a nice play from Ryan Spooner driving toward the net, and continues to put together another strong training camp after doing the same thing last season. Czarnik finished with the goal, three shots on net and six shot attempts in 17:38 of ice time, and battled back from a rough start to go 6-for-12 in the face-off circle while centering an extremely young line with Sean Kuraly and Zach Senyshyn. While Czarnik might not have been a big name when talking about an open roster spot with the Bruins a couple of weeks ago, he’s pushed toward making himself a part the conversation with his heart-filled, high effort energetic performances for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4-for-16 was the final tally for Ryan Spooner in the face-off circle as he continues to be a work-in-progress on the draw.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Maybe I was a little bit shocked first going out there. The speed of the game is noticeably faster, but I think as time went on I got more comfortable out there. Hopefully I can build off that moving forward.” – Bruins rookie D-man Matt Grzelcyk on his first NHL preseason game being a bit of a big wakeup call.