Haggerty: B's need more out of 'Passenger Line'

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Haggerty: B's need more out of 'Passenger Line'

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES Looking for a catchy name for the newly minted line of Blake Wheeler, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton that ended Monday nights game together per design of the Bruins coaching staff?How about the "Passenger Line?"Thats a little harsh to be sure, but its about time for some players to rise to the forefront and begin carrying their weight after the Bruins dropped a 2-0 decision to the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center characterized by its lifeless play and paucity of production.I think right now we need some guys to step up and start scoring some goals for us, said Claude Julien. Not always rely on the same people all of the time. At one point you can get away with it, but there are some guys that have been dry for a while. We need them to step up.The dry players: Horton has one goal in his last 19 games for the Bruins and is now on a pace for 20 goals and 47 points this season after starting so promisingly. Tyler Seguin is an 18-year-old working through the NHL for the first time, so he gets some slack while putting up nothing but zeroes over his last seven games. Similarly, Wheeler was one goal in his last 13 games and has drifted away from the physicality and net front presence that had him popping in goals regularly at the beginning of the month.All three forwards look like theyll have to look toward each other for offensive answers in the final game before the NHL All-Star break. Theres simply no reason to break up three other lines that have worked together intermittently through the season, and hold out hope that theyll produce again soon.The Bruins wont be getting four goal explosions from Patrice Bergerons line each and every night, and its clear that David Krejci and Milan Lucic have some work to do before they get their mojo going together.So it came down to Horton finally deciding to tell his Bruins teammates to hop on his back with Marc Savard down and out, and that really didnt even come close to happening as he instead faded to 15:24 of ice time and pretty much no presence 5-on-5 or on the power play.The Bruins had 34 shots on net when it ended against a defensive-minded Kings bunch, but its doubtful there were more than four Grade A scoring chances through the entire 60 minute effort. Michael Ryder had a couple of very good chances in the first period, Zdeno Chara hit the outside of the right post on a perfectly set one-timer during a second period power play, and Jonathan Quick managed to cover up a Lucic bomb from the slot as stampeded toward the net.I dont think as forwards we did a good enough job of getting in front of Quick, said Thornton. They were painted in our crease all night, and we didnt a great job of using their defensemen to force pucks in there. Some guys were going, and I think some guys were a few steps behind. But that was about it, and Claude Julien has enough of his team to know there is much more there whether Savard is in the lineup or back in Boston nursing the fourth concussion of his career. Chara called it being emotionally detached after the game, and it was clear that started with three forwards that the Bs desperately needed in the second part of a strange two-game West Coast road swing.I think some guys were involved and some guys werent, said Thornton pretty flatly.Its time for the Passenger Line to stop settling for zeros and starting finding answers with Savard down and out for an indefinite period of time, and everybody among the Boston forwards responsible for pulling their own weight.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

B's determined to "keep it going" during good offensive run

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B's determined to "keep it going" during good offensive run

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- The Bruins are going through a nice, little bountiful stretch of offense right now after a half-season of struggle.

The Bruins are averaging more than three goals per game in their last 12 contests, and have scored a whopping 22 goals in their last six games including dropping six scores on the Flyers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Combine that with the 7-for-25 performance on the power play during the month of January, and things are finally starting to catch up with a Bruins team that was all shoot/no score for months of frustrating hockey this season.

“If you want sustained success then you have to be good defensively, but you also have to score some goals. That’s definitely part of it and we have to keep it going,” said Patrice Bergeron, who has four goals and eight points in his last nine games after struggling out of the starting gate. “You’re not going to get rewarded every night like we did [against the Flyers], but you have to find that consistency where you’re close to having that every night.”

One thing nobody should expect out of the B’s, however, is to get outside of what they do well now that they’ve started slapping some numbers up on the board. Instead the Bruins are intent on their bedrock of disciplined defense and sensational goaltending with the added offense just making it much tougher to beat them these days.

“I don’t know if we can stand here and say we’re going to sustain that we’re scoring lots of goals. I think what we need to sustain here is winning more games than we lose,” said Claude Julien. “That’s what we’ve got to sustain. Whether it’s a 1-0 or 2-1 game, or it’s a 5-2 or 5-3 game it doesn’t really matter. It’s about winning hockey games much more than it’s about how much you scored, and how much you don’t score.

“Overall when I look at the scoring chances we’re giving up per game, that doesn’t seem to have changed. Goals allowed may have changed a little bit lately, but overall I think we’ve been very steady in that area [of defense].”

So now the Bruins will again be looking for that ideal balance of offense/defense when they take the ice against the Islanders on Monday afternoon for their second straight matinee at TD Garden. 

Morrow has "confident feeling" as he readies to jump into B's lineup

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Morrow has "confident feeling" as he readies to jump into B's lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It’s been a long month of bag skates and lonely practices for Bruins defenseman Joe Morrow.

That’s about to change thanks to injuries to both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller, who are both not expected to be able to play against the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon at TD Garden. That means Morrow will be in the B’s lineup for the first time since a Dec. 12 win over the Montreal Canadiens, a span of 16 consecutive B’s games that the 24-year-old has been watching from the press box.

Morrow skated in a pairing with John-Michael Liles in Sunday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena prior to Monday’smatinee, and obviously he’s looking forward to getting back into games given this season’s sporadic practice schedule.

“[Playing well after sitting for long stretches] isn’t necessarily something you want to be good at, but if you are good at then it’s a good tool to have in your bag. It’s a confident feeling that I’ll be able to come in [and play well],” said Morrow, who has an assist and a minus-3 rating in 13 games for the Black and Gold this season. “I’ve stayed in good shape and worked hard in practice, and that’s all I can do up until this point.

“Put simply, [this year’s compacted schedule] is exhausting. Countless times I’ve skated by myself, and anybody would tell you there’s nothing harder than skating by yourself on a sheet of ice. Mentally and physically it’s just exhausting. There haven’t been many practices and there haven’t been many game-type situations in the practices we do have. Skating with the whole team is almost like a pregame skate scenario. But you’re still skating every day, so it’s putting it upon yourself to go out there and stay ready for things.”

The one issue for Morrow, a former first round pick, over the last couple of seasons has been maintaining a high level of play once he draws his way into the lineup. It feels like there’s a drop-off in his play once he’s played a few games in a row whether it’s physical mistakes or mental lapses in his play, and that’s something he wants to avoid when given an opportunity to suit up.

“I feel like when I have played this year that I’ve been quite consistent and that I’ve played well,” said Morrow, the last remaining part of the 2013 Tyler Seguin trade still in a Bruins uniform. “I’m just in a situation that the cards are playing out the way that they are, so it depends on how many games I get whether it’s one, two, 30 or however many games are left [in the season]. It’s realistically entirely up to me. If I can shake the rust out in the first couple of shifts and start from there, it’s going to be a big positive in my book. It’s the really the only option I have left now.”

Given that Colin Miller began skating on his own on Sunday morning, it might not be a very big window for Morrow to impress upon the coaches just how badly he wants to play. But one would expect he’s going to bring his best on Monday against the Isles with the hopes that it will be somebody else sitting up in the press box when it once again becomes a D-man numbers game for the 7-8 players for six lineup spots.