Haggerty: Bruins need to shed loser's mentality

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Haggerty: Bruins need to shed loser's mentality

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Perhaps everybody should have seen this coming after the bar was set ridiculously low by the Bruins general manager and head coach over the past week of feverishplayoff anticipation.

Both Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien happily agreed prior to last nights Game One that advancing past the second round of the playoffs the spot thats proven to be Bostons bugaboo over the last two Stanley Cup campaigns would signify a sufficiently successful postseason run.

We entered this year coming off of that disappointing end against Philadelphia and thats been an underlying theme of the year, to be able to respond, to be able to build from that, said Chiarelli in a conference call leading up to the playoffs. So the obvious answer is get past the second round but its more than that.

Its about how we play, its about how we compete and there a lot of variables that go in a playoff run and I expect us to have a successful one.

Well, pardon us for the bluntness but thats just a losers mentality.

Its all about the Cup, and only about the Cup.

That would be like the Red Sox saying theyre be satisfied with simply winning the A.L. East over the Yankees, or the Patriots declaring theyd be pleased as punch if they pushed it all the way to the conference finals.

It sounds so strange put in that context that the Bruins goals and aspirations seem to border on the ridiculous. It's tantamount to saying losing at some point is okay.

Its apretty simple concept: Bruins brass should say the Stanley Cup is the only barometer for success and failure; say the Stanley Cup is the only option.

Or say, as Bs president Cam Neely did to CSNNE.com earlier in the week, that the team is simply focusing on one game at a time against the hated Habs, and that the end result to the game-to-game approachshould becapturing the Cup. Insteam Neely stomped away red-faced and rankled from the B's management box following last night's crap sandwich of a game.

Chiarelli and Julien didnt say any of those things, though.

The fear now is that this skewed view of postseason hopes has infected Bruins players. That strangely passive approach to the postseason from the B's front office and brain trust seemed to spill over onto the roster in the opening night of the series as key players like Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton thought it was okay to simply disappear -- or never really appear at all -- in a 2-0 loss to the Canadiens at TD Garden.Many of the players seemed to indicate they played a "pretty good game" against the Canadiens in Game One, but "pretty good" doesn't get it done in playoff hockey.

Brad Marchand was one of the few Bruins really making things happen in the offensive zone as he finished with a team-high six shots on net and enjoyed several Grade-A scoring chances in the first two periods. But the Bs agitator couldnt pull the trigger on a wide-open chance by the right post after a brilliant cross-ice pass from Tomas Kaberle, and the Black and Gold didn't see another equally good chance for the remainder of the game.

It was a moment of rookie nerves affecting the natural scorers touch that allowed him to top 20 goals this season, and Marchand admitted afterward that he rushed a shot too open to be true.

It was a perfect pass. But I just tried to, I rushed it a bit, said Marchand. I should have tried to stop it and I would have had a wide-open net. But I just rushed it a bit.

It is frustrating. You feel like you kind of let the team down. You had opportunities like that and you didnt bury. You can say what if, but at the end of the day there is tomorrow and we have to be ready for that, focus on that and then be ready for the next game. We cant hang our heads here,

Atleast Marchand was skating hard and creating chances against an overmatched Montreal defensive pairing of Brent Sopel and Jaroslav Spacek. The Habs' twosome had some serious difficulty containing Patrice Bergerons line, one of Boston's few bright spots that could serve as a sign of good things to come.

Unfortunately there were more of Marchands teammates that were cool make that way too cool in their first game of the "new" season.

Sure Lucic finally got on the board with a pair of shots in the third period, but Bostons tone-setter was nowhere to be found during the opening 40 minutes -- either physically or on the scoreboard. More than once the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Lucic was blown off the puck -- or knocked on his backside -- by the 6-foot, 212-pound PK Subban. The entire Bruins first line was shut down by the Habs' rookie defender and Hal Gill in a dispiritingly quiet performance.

Both Krejci and Lucic had zero shots on net through two periods, as scores of Bs bodies stood around watching Zdeno Chara fire shots straight into Carey Prices CH logo on his chest for five of his 31 saves.

We didnt capitalize in the second period, said Julien of a period where the Bs outshot the Habs by an 18-6 margin. We had some great opportunities, but I think there are reasons for lack of goals. I dont think we did a very good job of taking away his Price's vision.

He saw a lot of shots tonight and he saw a lot of pucks. We definitely have to get better in that area if we plan on scoring some goals. We had some quality chances as well that we didnt capitalize on. When you get those quality chances, you have to make sure you bury those.

There was also the potentially toxic defensive pairing of Kaberle and Dennis Seidenberg on the ice for both of Brian Giontas Montreal goals, and the continued aimless wanderings of Kaberle away from the Boston crease.

The ex-Maple Leafs defenseman once again proved he could use an electric dog collar wrapped around his neck to zap him and keep him from straying away from the front of the net prematurely after making an ill-advised hard puck reversal behind the net in the first period.

Kaberle compounded his mistake by assuming Seidenberg was going to be able to handle the grenade tossed at him.

That led to Montreals first goal by Brian Gionta all alone in front of the net, and allowed the Canadiens to simply back into the packed-down prevent defense for the remainder of the game.

The loss wasnt the end of the world by any means. It wasnt a terrible effort by the Black and Gold. But it also wasnt nearly good enough to win in the playoffs and certainly wasnt strong enough to help achieve Chiarelli and Julien'sflawedcrusade: Conference Finals or Bust.

The Bruins need more bodies around the net, more traffic to make Price uncomfortable and more of a commitment from their best players to use their inherent size and strength advantages against the quicker, smaller Habs.

We had a lot of chances. Weve got to find a way, said Patrice Bergeron. Obviously Price is a great goalie, and he cant see the puck like that. Weve got to make sure we get in front of him and get some traffic. It doesnt have to be the prettiest goal, we just need to put the puck in.

Its clear Chiarelli and Julien are sticking with their modest postseason goals with job security in mind, but thats not working for anybody elseafter the first 60 minutes of what's sure to be a hotly contested series.

Its time to head back to the drawing board, and for Chiarelli, Julien, Lucic, Kaberle and the rest of the Bruins to reassess their Stanley Cup aspirations before they fall woefully short.

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

Patrice Bergeron named Selke finalist for the fifth time

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Patrice Bergeron named Selke finalist for the fifth time

It was assumed that Patrice Bergeron will be finalist for the Selke Trophy again this season, and it became official on Thursday when it was announced that Bergeron, Ryan Kesler and Anze Kopitar were the three finalists for the award given to the best defensive forward.

It would be the third straight Selke Trophy and fourth overall for Bergeron if he can take the hardware home again during the NHL Awards in June, and the ever-humble No. 37 said he was just honored to once again be nominated.

“Being named a finalist for the Selke Trophy is a tremendous honor and one I am very grateful for,” said Bergeron in a press release. “While it is an individual award, my teammates and coaches deserve a lot of credit as well. Ryan and Anze are two elite players who both had great seasons and it is a privilege to be a finalist alongside them. Thanks to all of those who voted and I look forward to the NHL Awards Show on June 22.”

The Bruins center has won the Selke Trophy three times (2012, 2014 and 2015) and has now been a Selke finalist in each of the last five seasons. His three wins are tied for the second-most in NHL history, one behind Hall of Fame Canadiens forward Bob Gainey, who is the all-time leader with four Selke Trophies. Bergeron was the Bruins’ lone representative at the All-Star Game this winter for the second straight season, and was a no-brainer as a finalist given all of his defensive qualifications.

Bergeron finished the 2015-16 regular season leading the NHL in faceoffs taken (1,978) and for the second straight season led the league in faceoffs won (1,130) while finishing a solid seventh overall with a 57.1% faceoff win rate among players taking a minimum of 500 draws.

Thursday, April 28: Who are the lottery picks?

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Thursday, April 28: Who are the lottery picks?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while giving a thumbs up to “The Good Dinosaur” as quality family viewing.

*TSN Hockey Buddha Bob McKenzie breaks down the players available in the NHL draft lottery and what kind of names teams like the Boston Bruins should expect to be available with the first 14 picks.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynski talks about the World of Cup ads with the ESPN creative people that made them happen. They used the word jarring in something of a positive fashion to describe them. I would use the word “not funny” for Reg Carling, the fictional character created for the ads. If they were trying to feature the personality of NHL players in those ads, I think they missed the mark. It’s not really a big deal in the final scheme of things, but it doesn’t make for a good first step in drawing hockey fans back to the four letter network.  

*Good luck to Cam Tucker, a hockey writer based out of Vancouver that appears to have been one of the latest to be downsized in our industry.

*Dennis Bernstein has some thoughts, facts, analysis and theories surrounding the Los Angeles Kings, who have a long time to think about their first-round exit from the playoffs.

*Bruce Garrioch has some info on Ottawa’s long range plan to move to a needed downtown arena and that being the blueprint for most other Canadian cities.

*Tracey Myers has a dilemma for the Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw wants to stay, but the question is whether the Blackhawks can afford him?

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Bruce Boudreau lamenting the tough Game 7 loss for the Anaheim Ducks to the Nashville Predators. The loss may cost Boudreau his job, and will see a lot of new blood in the West with Chicago, Los Angeles and Anaheim now all out of the postseason.

*For something completely different: how can you say “no” to a tour of the world’s most magnificent treehouses.

Bruins have slim chance at No. 1 in NHL Draft lottery Saturday

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Bruins have slim chance at No. 1 in NHL Draft lottery Saturday

The Bruins will know a great deal more in a couple of days about their prospects for NHL Draft weekend in Buffalo this June.

The NHL will hold its annual draft lottery in Toronto on Saturday night for those teams outside the playoffs that hold first-round picks or those shrewd enough to have secured a first-rounder and still have reached the playoffs. 

The Bruins will have two first-round picks regardless of what happens: they hold their own lottery-eligible selection along with the first-round pick from the San Jose Sharks sent to Boston last summer in the trade for goaltender Martin Jones. The Sharks are still alive in the postseason, so the B’s second selection will be a late first-rounder.

The Bruins were the last NHL team eliminated from playoff contention, so they hold the slimmest odds of securing the first overall pick with a 1 percent chance in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes.

It’s too bad because the kind of game-breaking talent available at the top of the draft is exactly what the Black and Gold franchise needs after trading away top-10 first-round picks in Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton the past three years.

The Bruins will have roughly the same odds for the second (1.1 percent chance) and third overall picks (1.3 percent chance) should they miss out on No. 1, but the chances are still slim at they will pick anywhere but the same exact 14th overall pick where they selected Jake DeBrusk last season. Should they get a selection in the top three, the Bruins would be looking at big-time center Matthews, and a pair of Finnish wingers in Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, along with Matthew Tkachuk (son of Keith Tkachuk and cousin to Jimmy Hayes).

The highest rated D-man on the board is Sarnia Sting blueliner Jakob Chycrun, who is a player the Bruins would need to trade up for, a la their attempt at Noah Hanifin last year. The Bruins will have assets to potentially make that happen, but we all know how that worked out last season for Don Sweeney when a big part of “the plan” was moving up to nab one of last year’s blue chip D-men in the draft.   

Hopeful Bruins fans can try their luck with the NHL Draft Lottery Simulator online, but fair warning that you won’t see the Spoked ‘B’ come up very much while hashing out the order of the top three overall picks for late June at the First Niagara Center.