Haggerty: 'Bruins Way' returns with Bergeron

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Haggerty: 'Bruins Way' returns with Bergeron

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

TAMPA, Fla. There is absolutely nothing incongruous about the Boston Bruins snatching their defensive groove back on the night Patrice Bergeron returned to the lineup.

Boston cruised to a 2-0 shutout victory in Game 3 at the St. Pete Times Forum, giving the B's a 2-1 series lead, and there were certainly plenty of positive signs . . . with Bergerons health and effectiveness at the top of the list.

He leapt back into the lineup after missing the beginning of the series because of a mild concussion and started playing the Lightning like a Stradivarius violin. His presence was a big reason the Bruins, after allowing 10 goals in the first two games of the series, were back to defensive basics and smack in the middle of"the Bruins way" of doing things. It was all about clogging the middle of the offensive zone, holding down Tampa stars like Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier and controlling the game through puck possession.Anybody that doesn't see a connection between each of those items getting checked off the list and Bergeron's return from a head injury isn't looking hard enough.

Hes back and he definitely made a difference for us, said goalie Tim Thomas of Bergerons performance. Hes one of the best if not the best players on the team.

Prior to the game, the questions were obvious: How well would Bergeron play after this latest concussion, his third? How many minutes could he possibly play? Would the effects of suffering yet another head injury make him timid?

The answers: Great. A lot. And hell no.

Bergeron was on the ice for 19-plus minutes. He won faceoffs. He shadowed -- and shut down -- St. Louis, holding the Lightning star to only two shots and zero influence in a game that stalled the heart of soul of Tampa's offensive engine. He had zero points in four regular season games against the Bolts and again recessed from the offensive light against Tampa after jumping into the playoff mix.It's all about the defensive effort and winning 18 out of 28 draws for Bergeron against the offensively charged Lightning, and the two-way pivot was there to neutralizeall of it.

To be honest with you, I felt pretty good out there, said Bergeron. I felt like I was myself . . . Even though I missed a couple of games, as the game went on I felt like I was getting better."

Could Bergerons return also signal a revival of the group personality that is so brilliantly woven into the teams DNA? The team breakdowns and defensive ennui around Thomas in the first two games were a fairly damning trend, but Bergeron helped reverse course and provide a stabilizing influence where chaos reigned in the first two Eastern Conference Final games.

That felt more like a normal game, said Thomas, who made 31 saves. That felt like the game we played most of the season . . . That was Boston Bruins hockey . . . I was able to play more under control tonight, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that we played the way that Im used to.

The Bruins expect it to continue as Bergeron resumes his role as one of the best players still remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Expect the rest of the games in this series to resemble the defensive chess match in Game Three, and that means No. 37 will be right in the middle of it.

"I can't read the future, but if I was a betting man, I would think so," said defenseman Andrew Ference, who scored the Bruins' second goal. "Both teams went back to their styles.

"I saw them talk after last game, and I saw us talk. And I think both teams felt the exact same way. The wide-open play in the first two games is not a way to win a series and continue in the playoffs. This game was more like it."

Normal. More like it. "The Bruins way."

Any coincidence all those things returned with Patrice Bergeron?

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

Bruins defense struggles in 5-1 loss to Red Wings

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Bruins defense struggles in 5-1 loss to Red Wings

BOSTON – The Bruins are clearly getting the kinks out a couple of games into the preseason.

The B’s defense struggled all night, and allowed 39 shots on net and five goals in a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden. The loss provides plenty of video material for the Boston coaching staff to look at over the next few days.

The Bruins actually started off well in the opening half of the first period, but then the bottom fell out when they couldn’t cash in on a power play chance. That led to a Ryan Spooner face-off penalty and then the Wings scoring on the power play to get things going. The Winged Wheels then scored on a Drew Miller-to-Steve Ott connection 19 seconds later to double Detroit’s lead, and really showed some collapse for the Bruins group on the ice Wednesday night.

Impressive youngster Austin Czarnik scored in the second period after a nice feed from Ryan Spooner crashing to the net, but that was the lone highlight for the Black and Gold against a Detroit team that was ready to go. Luke Glendening scored on a play right in front of the net in the second period as well, and Anthony Mantha made it a 4-0 lead for Detroit until Czarnik cracked the score sheet with his first goal of the preseason.

Drew Miller added a goal in the third period when Linus Arnesson vacated the front of the net to leave it wide open for the NHL veteran, and that was a pretty symbolic play for a Bruins group that never got a defensive foothold all evening. 

Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

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Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

BRIGHTON -- Tonight’s Bruins-Red Wings game against the Red Wings should be a big chance for training-camp invite Peter Mueller as he readies to skate in a second straight exhibition game after a quiet night in the opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The former 22-goal scorer with the Coyotes felt he was “solid” and “held his own” while not getting any shots on neta againsy Columbus. The veteran winger feels like he’s again starting to pick up the NHL pace after spending the last three years in Europe, and that’s mandatory to start making plays. 

“It was a good adjustment, but hopefully tonight I show a little more skill, a few more pucks to the net and create some more offense,” said Mueller. “I would rather play in most of the [exhibition] games, to be honest with you, and to get in-game-like scenarios and prepare yourself for each and every game. In my position I’m happy that I’m playing tonight and hopefully I can keep trying to impress the people [making decisions].”

The 26-year-old former first-round pick will be in a favorable spot, skating in a possible third-line, right-wing audition with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. He'll also serve as another established player in a more veteran-laden lineup Wednesday night vs. the Winged Wheels at TD Garden. With Frankie Vatrano out for the next three months, these are the kind of chances Mueller needs to knock out of the park if he wants to fend off younger competition for one of those B’s roster spots up front. 

“It definitely favors the type of game I want to play,” said Mueller, when asked about the chance to skate in a spot with Spooner and Beleskey that he would likely fill whre he to crack the NHL roster. “With two skill guys, hopefully we can create some chemistry and some offense early and obviously that helps with the flow of the game. Hopefully I can just showcase my skills and the work ethic that I’m trying to bring to the team. Overall, hopefully we have a good game tonight.”

Sean Kuraly is also playing in his second straight exhibition, and will move over to the left wing skating with Austin Czarnik and left wing Zachary Senyshyn in what amounts to a kid line for the Bruins. One would expect the same goaltending rotation in this game, with Malcolm Subban getting the first two periods and Daniel Vladar getting the game’s final 20 minutes. Here are the line combos and D-pairings according to the rushes during morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
 
Beleskey-Spooner-Mueller
Kuraly-Czarnik-Senyshyn
Gabrielle-Moore-Ferlin
Blidh-Acciari-Hickman
 
Grzelcyk-McQuaid
Lauzon-C. Miller
Arnesson-Casto
 
Subban
Vladar