Haggerty: B's need the power of change


Haggerty: B's need the power of change

By Joe Haggerty

MONTREAL Its time for Claude Julien to open things up and hope for the best before it's too late.

Julien has been the Bruins' coach for the last four years and built a playoff contender. He put the team back on the map.

But this season, Julien's style became predictable. His power play in particular, became stale. Despite its struggles, he made few changes. He's even stood firm as the Bruins' power-play unit sputtered in the playoffs without any moving parts, and only a predictable umbrella formation that foes like the Canadiens have seen over and over again.

Two games into what was expected to be an emotional series with the Canadiens, the Bruins still have done nothing on the man advantage.

But that's not all that's gone wrong for Julien's club.

Shockingly, Tim Thomas hasnt been good at all. With a .891 save percentage and five goals allowed on 46 shots, hes the backbone of what's become a leaky Bruins defense. Both Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk's games look to be falling straight into the Stanley Cup dumpster after the first two games.

The questionable defense has allowed the Canadiens to build up early leads in both games, and the Habs seem poised to put a stranglehold on the series as they make their way from Boston back to the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Milan Lucic and Co. are legitimately incensed, and the hope is that theyre going to be able to finally do something about it. Maybe that's a good thing.

Were definitely upset. Were not happy with the results of the last two games, the first two games, said Lucic. The main thing is were fighting the puck and its almost like were shooting ourselves in the foot.

And I think thats the most upsetting part. But like I said we need to put that aside and we need to put our rally caps on and figure something out quick because were definitely running out of time.

It's a feeling the Bruins' power play has felt all too often. Over their first two playoff home games, the Bruins came up empty on all seven chances on the power play. The Bs have the right combos to provide firepower and defensive oomph when it comes to 5-on-5 play, but the power play is another thing entirely. It's one of the top items on the Bs checklist to improve as Julien and his team heads into a much-needed Game Three, and it's one of the biggest black marks on a coaching staff that hasn't been able to foster any kind of man advantage success.

Its tough when you only score one goal in the first two games especially at home and I think we just have to just bear down and find a way. Thats what it comes down to, said Julien. But like you said, its no secret now like the last two teams last year, when they were in trouble, were in trouble right now.

Lucic is normally a producer that rises to the occasion, and he said he had to find a way to rally and get his teammates' heads back in the series. One of those ways is to work harder for Stanley Cup-quality goal-scoring chances. The other is to re-connect with the fan base that wants him to be a physical threat on the ice -- especially against the Canadiens.

Will he live up to those expectations? Will he lead the Bruins out of their current postseason daze?

Who knows?

At this point, there really isnt much to count on as the B's are down 0-2. Perhaps calling Tyler Seguin into the lineup will turn things around and give the offense the spark it so desperately needs.

It certainly cant hurt the Bruins' cause at this point.

Perhaps Seguin's speed, blazing shot and skating speed can do some good against the Canadiens. Perhaps the change will give slumbering center David Krejci a slight boost. Perhapsit will have the same effect that inserting a benched Phil Kessel back into the B's lineup did four years ago against the Montreal Canadiens when the B's were in similar dire straits.Meanwhile Michael Ryder has amassed 24:36 of ice time in the first two games, managed two shots on net and exactly zero impact after Julien showed faith in his streaky winger after he showed nothing down the stretch this season. It's time for Ryder to hit the pine and then move on from Boston along with his overpriced contract.

Dumping Julien's tired umbrella formation on the power play would alsobe a step in the right direction for Boston, too. And running things through Krejci would make sense, but there's no way of knowing if it will be the PP's cure-all. Even if it were, it would depend on Julien's willingness to change -- something he hasn't shown all season. The biggest difference on the power play would and could be some additional player movement, some creativity and a little bit of the strange that opposing penalty killers aren't expecting.Truth be told: the movement on Boston's power play was actually pretty decent in Game Two without Zdeno Chara, and areliance on his 105.9-mphpoint blasts on one time shots as the PP's biggest weapon.Right now opponents know exactly what the Bruins are going to do on their special teams, and that's a bad thing. Seguin could be a wild card on that unit if Julienis willing to tie his team's fate -- and perhaps his own -- to a 19-year-old puck prodigy.

Perhaps Julien is just waiting. Perhaps he's expecting see the team he's seen all season. The one that, on paper, should win this series.

We have to play better and its pretty obvious that were the better team than weve shown, said Andrew Ference. It doesnt matter how many things look good on paper and everything else it doesnt matter at this stage of the year.

Its not about the numbers, its not about the number of shots, its not about the number of faceoffs weve won, at the end of the day its the outcome of the game that matters. And thats what we have to focus on, making sure that the outcome is in our favor.

Its time to win, or pack it in for the Bruins. Its as simple as that.

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

Saturday, May 28: Frustating season for Pred's Rinne


Saturday, May 28: Frustating season for Pred's Rinne

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering how much of a dark cloud Slava Voynov’s presence is going to bring to the World Cup of Hockey.

*PHT’s Joey Alfieri tracks the ups and downs of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who had a frustrating season.

*Jonathan Drouin says that he “definitely wants to be” part of the Tampa Bay Lightning after a very rocky year with a happy ending for all.

*Speaking of the World Cup of Hockey, Taylor Hall was one of a number of deserving Canadian players – including P.K. Subban -- left off the roster.

*The San Jose Sharks have come a long way from their inaugural season in the league.

*Ottawa Senators senior advisor Bryan Murray is still getting used to a new role after a change in the Sens front office structure.

*Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has plenty of reasons to be proud after a very good year running hockey ops for the Penguins.

*For something completely different: this January Rolling Stone magazine piece on Stevie Nicks was an excellent retrospective.



Marchand: Selection to Canada World Cup 'on a different level'


Marchand: Selection to Canada World Cup 'on a different level'

Bruins left wing Brad Marchand definitely altered a lot of people’s perceptions about him as a hockey player when he scored 37 goals this season, and embraced more of a leadership role on a B’s team getting younger by the year. The B’s agitator started to reap the rewards of those changed opinions with a gold medal at the IIHF World Championships in Russia earlier this month, and on Friday with his inclusion on a ridiculously talented Team Canada roster set for the NHL and NHLPA-organized World Cup of Hockey in the fall.

Marchand will join linemate Patrice Bergeron and head coach Claude Julien as part of the Team Canada contingent, and could even be part of a reunited Marchand-Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line if Mike Babcock and Co. are looking for instant chemistry.

Either way Marchand was excited about suiting up for his country, and being part of a World Cup tournament that will include Bruins players Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara, David Pastrnak, David Krejci (who may not be available to play due to his hip surgery), Loui Eriksson and Dennis Seidenberg along with the Team Canada contingent.

“It’s an incredible honor to play for Team Canada. It’s something that I think we all take a lot of pride in, and something that is…it’s not an easy accomplishment,” said Marchand. “It’s not something you get to do very often, and to have that opportunity twice this year is very special and it’s not something I take for granted

“I think being part of a team like this is on a different level, and people may give a little more respect to that fact and may look at more of the kind of player I am, other than just the stuff they’ve seen in the past, with the hits and being a pest and stuff like that. Maybe those people will realize that I’m an OK hockey player, and I do play the game as well. But regardless, that’s not why I play the game. I play it to help our team win and just because I love the game, so however they feel, then that’s their opinion. But [earning more respect league-wide] is a possibility.”

This is the fifth time Marchand has been selected to compete for his home country of Canada in international play. The 5-foot-9, 181-pound forward tallied four goals and three assists in 10 games while helping Canada earn a gold medal at the aforementioned 2016 IIHF Men’s World Championships, held earlier this month in Russia. Marchand previously won gold with Team Canada at the U-20 World Championships in 2007 and 2008. He also earned a bronze medal with Team Canada Atlantic at the 2005 World U-17 Hockey Challenge.

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will take place from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1, 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, home of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. The two-week tournament, featuring eight teams comprised of more than 150 of the best players in the NHL, will progress from the Preliminary Round to the Semifinals and ultimately the Final. 

The involvement of so many Bruins players along with Julien will make for a spare NHL camp in Boston come September with so many important pieces out for what is traditionally the first two weeks of camp.