Haggerty: Bruins putting it all together in win streak

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Haggerty: Bruins putting it all together in win streak

WILMINGTON A wise old sports man once said things are never as bad as they are during a losing streak, and never as good as they seem during a long winning streak.

So the Bruins arent likely to beat every opponent from pillar to post and average nearly six goals per game in doing it, but the Black and Gold finally showed some engagement, some emotion and plenty of physical execution in ripping off a six-game winning streak thats got the team back on track.

Tyler Seguin has sparkled with seven goals and 10 points in the six games during the month of November, but Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Milan Lucic have all been point-per-game plus contributors over that stretch as well. Chara has very quietly dominated during the Bs winning streak, and has put up nine assists and a plus-9 while offering up his usual stalwart defense in 26 plus minutes per game.

In fact, Adam McQuaid is the only Bruins regular without a point during the winning streak with contributions from top-to-bottom, and the stretch of victories has once again featured Bostons overwhelming depth at forward and defense.

The depth has been one thing, and Gregory Campbell gives credit to the big money skill players producing ample offense to take the pressure off everybody. Their latest win against New Jersey was a grinding effort, but so many of Bostons recent wins have been blowouts by the third period.

I think weve scored points, and weve done it by playing our north-south game and being stingy defensively. We always get goaltending, but were getting goal-scoring right now, said Gregory Campbell. Our top guys are really putting in the work and theyre getting rewarded.

Its a lot easier for the whole team to succeed when were winning. The first and second lines the goal-scorers so to speak have done a great job and theyve carried us. Its a tough job to have that contribution night in and night out, so when you get the third and fourth line chipping in it goes a long way.

Granted the six-game winning streak has been over teams that didnt qualify for the playoffs last season aside from the Buffalo Sabres, and could be considered teams that are still searching for their the NHL identity. But none of that mattered much to the Bruins when they were staring at a 3-7 record and last place in the Eastern Conference just a few weeks ago.

Now they lead the NHL with a plus-18 goal differential, and sit one more winning streak away from some breathing room in the middle of the playoff pack.

The Bruins sit tied for 11th place in the Eastern Conference just outside of a playoff spot with games in hand, and they finish out a ludicrous home stretch to start the season with a Thursday night game against the worst team in the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But following the Western Conference tilt against Columbus finest hockey team, the Bruins lead into the all-important Thanksgiving holiday with road battles against the New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens and the circle the calendar game against the Sabres in Buffalo on the night before Turkey Day.

With all of the losses we put up in the early going, we can ill afford to get comfortable and rest on our streak so far. Were just trying to maintain our intensity and our solid play structurally, said Campbell. We want to continue climbing. Those are two huge divisional games waiting for us next week if we want to make a huge divisional jump.

If successfully executed, the three-game road stretch against Eastern Conference teams should be the final set of dominoes that get the Bruins back into playoff pole position two months into the season. Its not exactly what the Bruins envisioned when they were sitting down to Stanley Cup championship ring dinners back in early October, but its not as bad as it looked for an entire month of uninspired hockey either.

Our whole game fell together when it was all about the execution and the skating, said Claude Julien. Then all of the other things fell into place. The first month of the season even in practice you could see it was sluggish. Thats why the mental part of the game wasnt really ready to play the way we have.

It was a big struggle and a long struggle to get things going in the right direction, and we finally found our legs and energy. All of the sudden our game just began picking up.

The Bruins have outscored their opponents by a 34-13 margin and theyve regained their swagger knocking around their last six opponents. But nobody is going to remember Bostons six-game winning streak if they slide back into mediocrity in the next week, and thats the main course of action for a Bs team just hitting their powerful opening stride.

Talking Points from the Bruins OT winner

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Talking Points from the Bruins OT winner

GOLD STAR: Solid night’s work from Ryan Spooner, who finished with the OT game-winning strike and was solid throughout the game as the de facto No. 1 center. He had four shots on net, six generated shot attempts and won 12-of-19 face offs as he continues to improve in that area while training camp rolls along. Spooner is trying to hold onto the No. 3 center spot in the lineup despite the addition of David Backes via free agency, and Friday night’s big boy performance with speed, playmaking and skill showed exactly what his potential can be when he puts it all together. It was also a nice little bounce-back from an up-and-down game on Wednesday night against the same Detroit team when he struggled in the face off circle and was part of a team-wide malaise.

BLACK EYE: It wasn’t necessarily a bad night for Brian Ferlin, but it was more of the invisible variety with just a registered hit and one face-off taken in 13 minutes of ice time. The forward earned some NHL time with the Bruins a couple of years, has battled concussion woes over the last year plus and is trying to push his way back into the crowded forward picture during this training camp. While he certainly showed some toughness and skill around the net a couple of years and didn’t seem shy about going there on Friday night, the results just weren’t there and Ferlin didn’t have much of a presence in the game. In general it was a pretty decent performance for the Bruins, so Ferlin’s game was quiet more than problematic.

TURNING POINT: Credit the Bruins coaching staff for switching up the lines in the third period, and that sparked the offense a bit after zero goals through the first 40 minutes against Detroit. Zach Senyshyn was moved with Danton Heinen and Riley Nash, and they became a threat in the third period before Heinen broke through for the game-tying goal from his knees. That score allowed the B’s to push things into overtime, and then Spooner made it a quick extra session by snapping home a shot from the slot after a good effort from Joe Morrow down low. It all was made possible by the adjustment to the lines that took place between the second and the third periods.

HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Morrow is battling to hold onto his NHL roster spot with the Bruins, and that is absolutely underscored by the news that Christian Ehrhoff is being brought to Boston on a PTO. So it was expected that the young D-man would come out with something a little extra after a mediocre performance in his preseason debut, and the left shot D-man was an impact player in the win for the Black and Gold. Morrow dropped the gloves with young tough guy Givani Smith in the second period as part of a B’s group that played with a little bit of an edge on Friday night, and then he won a battle down low in overtime to set up the Ryan Spooner game-winner. Morrow had two hits, two shot attempts, the assist and the fight in 19:48 of ice time, and showed that he’s ready to battle in camp to hold onto his spot.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of goals in two preseason games thus far for Danton Heinen, who scored important game-tying goals in both instances in the shootout loss to the Blue Jackets and Friday night’s overtime win against the Wings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “The compete level, especially when he got down 4-0 [on Wednesday night], I don’t think it was high enough. So we talked about it, and we expect a better effort for sure.” –Ryan Spooner on Friday morning prior to going out and snatching the win away from the Red Wings in Detroit with an OT game-winner. 

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

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Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.