Haggerty: B's look to capitalize on perfect trip

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Haggerty: B's look to capitalize on perfect trip

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

OTTAWA Any time the current crop ofBruins draw comparisons to their 1972 Stanley Cup-winning edition, it means things are going pretty swimmingly.

That about sums it up for the Black and Gold after finishing a perfect 6-0-0 on a just-completed road swing divided into three parts a two-game winner of a stretch against Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers in the Islanders and Senators, a more impressive three-game romp through Western Canada that included galvanizing victories over the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, and the finale, a 1-0 win Tuesday in Ottawa.

It means a lot, said Tuukka Rask, who bookended twin victories at the beginning and ending of the six-game road stretch. It all started off on Long Island against the Islanders and then the trades came in. We really came together as a team during the trip, and bonded together during that time in Vancouver. "Its a big thing.

Theres little doubt some of the answers have come from theoutside help. Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Tomas Kaberle have helped tremendously on both ends of the ice, and the Bs power play has been worlds better despiteenjoyingjust a 1-for-13 success ratiosince Kaberle came on board.

But the answers have come just as much from withinled byscoring sources that had gone dry duringthe middle months. Those goal-scoring sourcesare again flourishing. Nathan Horton scored the game-winner in Tuesdays victory, and did it the old fashioned way: the right wing crashed the net after shots by Adam McQuaid and Brad Marchand, and forced a second-effort goal past Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson.That's the fourth goal for Horton in the last five games, and his sixth point (4 goals, 2 assists) in the last six games. David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Michael Ryder have all enjoyed some offensive success as of late, and embody one of the deepest groups of forwards still intact in the Eastern Conference.

The key that set Boston free in Hortons eyes: a move away from individual focus, and back towards unselfish, detail-orientedtogetherness that grinds opponents down.
The exhausted B's did just that against the Senators after appearing to have little energy through the first two periods. But like all good teams, the Bruins found a way to grit it out.

Its working together; back-checking, said Horton. Doing all the little things. Nobody is caring about goals or assists . . . or anything individual. We care about winning, and thats about it.

The six-game road winning streak was certainly a big thing to Zdeno Chara, who has helped craft this Bruins team into a hard-charging, complete hockey club hell-bent on finishing as high as possible in the Eastern Conference standings.

There were a handful of 1972 clubrecords matched or broken when the Bruins put up 116 points during the 2008-09 season and romped all the way to the Eastern Conference title witha team armed tosimply overwhelm opponents with offense and physicality. Those featsdidnt faze Chara then, and certainly dont now with an older, wiser, more experienced and talented group of Bruins earning their stripes late in the regular season.

Its more about a Bs team with 19 games to go in an Eastern Conference race that's wide open, as so many perennial favorites struggle withinjuries and inconsistency. The Bs outscored their opponents 20-9 over the six-game road winning streak, rank fifth in the NHL with 3.1 goals per game, rank second in the NHL with 2.3 goals allowed per game, and are the leagues best team at the most important juncture in a hockey game: the third period.

Whether judging by the numbers or simply evaluatingwiththe naked eye, the Bruins are a good hockey club with few weaknesses. They have very little true star power, but they're a team build on depth and chemistry.

That ability to score and defend coupled with their elite goaltending the Bruins also lead the NHL with nine shutouts this season makes them a tough out for any otherteam in a seven-game series. That became obvious when the new-look Bruins went on the road and set the Western teams straight.Weve always believed in those guys and its just a matter of putting it together, said coach Claude Julien. Weve talked about consistency and when you win six in a row, to me thats consistency. Weve had some real big challenges along the way but what we wanted to do was win this game and set ourselves up for a real good match against Tampa Bay Thursday at home and we got that now.

The Penguins are beset by injuries, and wont be getting Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby back anytime soon. The Capitals are pinning their playoff hopes on Bruins castoffs like Dennis Wideman and Marco Sturm, and Boston fans know exactly how that tune goes.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have little big-timeplayoff experience aside from Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, and are a year or two away from doing real postseason damage.

The Flyers are loaded in the back and up front, but theyre relying on young, unproven goaltending the same recipe thats been Phillys undoing so many times in the recent past.

Chara appreciates his teams mention in the same breath with Bobby Orr, Gerry Cheevers, Derek Sanderson and so many other legendary members of the 1972 champions. But their road accomplishment across three time zones is about much more than hockey history. It's aboutan undefeated road trip through some challenging NHL outposts is a clarion call to the rest of the league that this Bruins' editionis ready to carve out their own identity inthe next three months.

I don't think we have any of those kinds of names or players," Chara said. "Those are such legends that it's hard to really be compared to those guys. We're really trying to focus on playing well and playing our game and playing for each other, and win as many games as possible and have good feelings after the games, no regrets.

The Bruins had few regrets during an extremely successful six-game road trip, and there doesnt appear to be many difficultiesin their future if they can simply maintain the mojo captured somewhere between Long Island and Vancouver. Things are starting to appear special for these Bruins, and they'ddo best not to misplace it.

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

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while digging the Spider-Man trailer that dropped last night. 

*John Scott has finally called it a day and announced his retirement, and apparently there’s a book of his memoirs also coming out too. I’m predicting it’s not headed for the New York Times best seller list. 

*Winter Olympics participation and the CBA negotiations for the NHL are starting to merge into giant issue.  

*Connor McDavid calls the Flyers' Brandon Manning classless for telling him on the ice that he purposefully tried to hurt him last season. Some players might also take issue with McDavid making public what another player said to him on the ice. That’s kind of a no-no for most hockey players and breaks an unwritten rule that McDavid might think he’s above given his star status. This whole thing isn’t a good look for anybody. 

*Kevin Stevens pleads guilty to federal drug charges in what’s become a pretty sad situation for the former NHL star. 

*New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is beginning to raise questions with his play, and his massive price tag. 

*Youngsters Zach Weresnki and Dylan Larkin took similar paths to the NHL, and are both considered part of the talented young generation full of hockey stars. 

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Carey Price taking a nutty on Kyle Palmieri after the player crashed into his crease last night. Price is being celebrated for sticking up for himself, but if another goalie did that to a Habs player at the Bell Centre, there would already be a warrant out for his arrest. Play it both ways, Montreal!  

*For something completely different: here’s the aforementioned new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer that looks pretty darn good. 

 

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

BOSTON – While the loss to the Avalanche on Thursday night was a monumental dud, it put another dazzling display on the hockey resume of David Pastrnak. 

The 20-year-old star right winger scored two more goals in the 4-2 loss at TD Garden and nearly brought the Bruins back into the game by himself before another defensive breakdown at the end of the second period doomed them. 

Instead, Pastrnak had to settle with being the proud owner of 18 goals scored in 23 games that places him in a tie with NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals. 

The goals also showed his wide range of lethal offensive skills. On the first score, he just broke away from the Avalanche defense and managed to bury a second-effort breakaway chance after a nice Tim Schaller stretch pass off the boards. The second goal was a straight one-timer bomb from the high slot off a slick setup pass from Brad Marchand in the corner, and it had the Bruins right back into the mix after a dreadful first period. 

It wasn’t enough when the B’s defense faltered again toward the end of the second period, but it was enough for everybody to be singing Pastrnak’s praises once again following the loss. 

“He’s a game changer. The momentum is going the other way, and he has the ability to break away on any given shift and score a big goal for us. He did that tonight,” said Torey Krug. “We can’t just keep relying on the same guys to score goals. We’ve got to come up with secondary offense, and I know every other guy wants to do that. 

“Now it’s about showing that on the ice and making sure we’re doing the work and getting better and proving to ourselves. But Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been great for us so far, and we’re obviously lucky to have him.”

The 18 goals barely two months into the season are not too shabby for a kid, in his third NHL season, who just now coming into his own. He’s nearly halfway to 40 before Christmas. For Pastrnak, however, it’s about the team result and he wasn’t overly satisfied with his two goals in a losing effort. 

“I’ve said before the season that our goal is to make the playoffs and to have that experience and have the chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m still focusing on that,” said Pastrnak, who has yet to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs in his two-plus seasons with the Black and Gold. “We have zero points from tonight’s game and we have to move on. I think our game gets better in the second and third periods, you know, and we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday’s game.”

The Bruins will undoubtedly regroup and once again count on another Pastrnak offensive explosion to help lead the way in what’s become a truly spectacular season for the youngster.