Haggerty: B's need to refocus, and fast

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Haggerty: B's need to refocus, and fast

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON While it's impossible to send everyone in the Bruins household an invitation back to Lake Placid to regain their focus, it looks exactly like what the doctor's ordering.

Three major gaffes in the first period turned into three Tampa Bay goals in 85 seconds, putting the B's in a 3-0 hole and leading to a sloppy5-2 loss to the Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night.

It was a flashback to the series start against the Montreal Canadiens, when the Bs were turning pucks over at a warp speed and taking needless, scary penalties that resulted in needless, self-inflicted wounds.

Furthermore, Claude Julien and the coaching staff had no answers to Tampa Bays 1-3-1 trap. Julien was too slow to make adjustments in the first few minutes of the game when Tampa coach Guy Boucher went away from it, and he clearly didnt want to favor Tyler Seguin despite how effective the rookie looked in his first exposure to a pressure-packed playoff series.

Some of the Bruins weren't as concerned as the score would indicate they should be.

I think we had a good first period. They just scored three goals, said David Krejci, who somehow lost 15 out of his 18 faceoff draws. I dont think they had better chances, or that they played better than us. I really liked the way we played, especially my line. I think we were all over them.

Just some bad breaks, you know. Like I said, give credit to them for burying the chances in the first period.

That attitude's got to change. And quickly.

The Lightning showed Saturday why they're such a dangerous matchup for the B's. Their trap is a nightmare for Boston's offense, and they're an opportunistic opponent that pounces on every mistake with speed and precision.

Montreal posed a similar matchup problem for the B's -- and, don't forget, the Habs pushed the Bruins to seven games -- but Tampa Bay is much better than the Canadiens. Literally every player on the Lightning roster is a scoring threat; 19 different players have ended up on the scoresheet through their 12 postseason games. Worse still: Tampa Bays best players never really got going in the Game 1 win as the role players did the damage.

The really big difference between Tampa Bay and Montreal: The Lightning got a much more committed and cohesiveeffort out of their skaters, and that means smaller stats, like faceoff winning percentage, were a landslide in favor of the Bolts in Game 1.

The Bruins' problems Saturday night were exacerbated by their mistakes. The first three goals they allowed seemed to run the gamut of ways they could shoot themselves in the foot and look nowhere else when it came time for the blame game:

The first goal came after of a couple of defensive hiccups in their own end, punctuated by a bad bounce off Dennis Seidenberg's skate that shot right to Sean Bergenheim when Tim Thomas couldn't freeze the puck.

The second was a softie allowed by Tim Thomas, as Tampa Bays Brett Clark somehow found an opening when he flung a backhanded wrist shot at Thomas' pads. But Clark was also allowed to waltz into the zone with nothing resembling tough neutral zone bite or defensive grit.

The third was the result of the continuing unmitigated disaster Tomas Kaberle has been since he arrived in Boston. He had the puck settled behind his net and was ready for a breakout, but was surprised by uncharacteristic forecheck pressure from the Lightning. He turned it over, and eventually a Teddy Purcell shot caught Thomas snoozing. Worst of all, Kaberle tried to claim after the game was over that he didn't get the puck taken from him -- and instead that it "slipped off his stick." Is there really a difference, Tomas?

I remember one time I came off the ice and I felt good about myself and then . . . boom boom, it's 2-0, said Krejci. It takes a lot of energy out of you and its tough to regroup. You got to stick with it as a team and go out there the next shift and try to get it back, but tonight it didnt happen.

Still, the Bruins have been here before; they lost not just the opener, but the first two games -- at home -- against the Canadiens before rallying. They looked just asragged and slipshod when it came to handling the puck against a speedy team counting on their mistakes.And this time they have an ace in the hole.

Tyler Seguin made his NHL playoff debut against the Lightning and notched two points, including a goal, on three shots in a smidge under 10 minutes of ice time. The 19-year-old said hes been working on taking his shot aggressively to the cage, and he certainly looked every bit the aggressor in Game 1.

They'll need him, and everyone else, Tuesday night in Game 2. They'll also need Julien and his staff to get coaching against Tampa Bay's Guy Boucher, the French-Canadian king of in-game adjustments.

Three weeks ago, a trip to Lake Placid in the middle of the Montreal series refocused the Bruins.

This time, they'll need to do it on their own.

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

Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

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Czarnik 'playing bigger' while looking to secure job with Bruins

It’s not difficult to see why Austin Czarnik might have been a little overlooked headed into this Bruins training camp when forecasting favorites among the forwards to win a roster spot on the big club. After all he’s only 5-foot-9 and 167-pounds coming off just one very solid season at the AHL level for the Providence Bruins, and there are bigger, stronger forwards candidates that maybe rank a bit higher on the prospect list than him.

But the 23-year-old Czarnik put together an excellent training camp last fall before finishing with 20 goals and 61 points for the P-Bruins last season, and now he’s doing the exact same thing again this time around.

“Yeah, I feel more comfortable. I think we could have been a lot better in a lot of areas. Overall I think everyone is just happy to be back on the ice,” said Czarnik, who along with Frank Vatrano was one of the real starts of camp last season. “You know that type of mentality and you know mistakes are going to happen, and you’ve just got to move forward from it so everyone’s happy to be back.”

The former Miami University star is clearly happy to be back, and it’s showing on the ice with each chance he gets to show his tenacity, withering fore-check and his willingness to crash the net despite his smallish stature.

Czarnik was one of the most dangerous forwards on the ice for the Black and Gold in their preseason opener, and collected a key assist on Boston’s first goal of the game when he pushed a puck through the neutral zone before setting up on odd man rush for Jimmy Hayes and Jake DeBrusk.

This time around Czarnik scored the game’s only goal on a nifty rush during four-on-four play through the offensive zone by Ryan Spooner, who drew in the defense and dished to Czarnik for a wide open tap-in chance.

So it’s a couple of big plays in each of the first two preseason games that led to goals, and a genuinely excellent level of play throughout both contests. It’s something the Bruins coaching staff has taken note of along with his skating speed and hardnosed mentality, and now they have to figure if it fits in with their other NHL pieces.

“We were just talking about it. Everybody has that same feeling. He’s playing well. He moves well. He’s on the puck. He competes, and that’s the thing you’re looking for really,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “Like right now, we know there’s going to be mistakes made by a lot of our players, especially the younger ones.

“We’re looking to see who’s got that competitive, you know, that competitive fire. [We’re looking for] who’s going to go out there and who can compete at a high level. I know he’s not big in stature, but he plays bigger than he is. He’s had two pretty good games so far.”

Czarnik had a couple of good games early in B’s camp last year before flat-lining a bit at the end when the NHL jobs were seriously on the line, and the 23-year-old wants that story to change endings this time around. It remains to be seen where he’s going to fit as yet another center among Boston’s group of training camp players this month, but Czarnik might just force the Bruins to make a tough decision if he keeps playing at his current high level.   

Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

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Talking Points: Veteran Red Wings torch Bruins

GOLD STAR: Take your pick: Steve Ott, Drew Miller and Luke Glendening torched the Bruins with veteran savvy and toughness against a very young defensemen unit trying to survive in the second preseason game. Ott and Glendening each scored a goal and finished with three points, and Miller finished with a goal and two points while all three forwards had a plus-3 rating for the night. All of their goals came off winning battles, crashing the net and taking advantage of defensive miscues. The goals provided a good lesson to the young kids that have a ways to go before they’re NHL ready at this point in their careers. It certainly must have been a kick to the stones to many Bruins fans when “Brave” Steve Ott was named the No. 1 Star of the game after it was all over, but that was certainly appropriate.

BLACK EYE: Adam McQuaid was the most experienced defensemen out on the ice for the Bruins on Wednesday night, and it was a rough night for him with so many young guys around him on the back end. McQuaid finished a minus-2 in 17:41 with a couple of hits and got a little better as the game was going on, but was on ice for two of the first three goals allowed to Detroit in a really lackluster middle section of the game. In general, it was about more than just one player, though. There were blown assignments in the D-zone and some really noticeable lost battles leading to scoring chances for a Red Wings group that aggressively took it to the Bruins. This is a game that will leave the Bruins coaches with plenty of video material moving forward.

TURNING POINT: The real slippage came early in the game when the Bruins failed to score on some good power play chances for Peter Mueller and Matt Beleskey, and then allowed two goals within 19 seconds of each other in the first period. The first goal was a PP one for the Red Wings with Ryan Spooner whistled for a face-off infraction, and the second was simply the Bruins falling asleep at the wheel just seconds after the first goal was scored. Lost battles led to a bang-bang play in front with Steve Ott scoring as Malcolm Subban was turned around looking for the puck, and the B’s were reeling headed into the first intermission. Only a Subban shoulder save kept it from being 3-0 at the end of the first, and that was something the B’s never seemed to rebound from.

HONORABLE MENTION: Austin Czarnik scored the B’s only goal off a nice play from Ryan Spooner driving toward the net, and continues to put together another strong training camp after doing the same thing last season. Czarnik finished with the goal, three shots on net and six shot attempts in 17:38 of ice time, and battled back from a rough start to go 6-for-12 in the face-off circle while centering an extremely young line with Sean Kuraly and Zach Senyshyn. While Czarnik might not have been a big name when talking about an open roster spot with the Bruins a couple of weeks ago, he’s pushed toward making himself a part the conversation with his heart-filled, high effort energetic performances for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4-for-16 was the final tally for Ryan Spooner in the face-off circle as he continues to be a work-in-progress on the draw.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Maybe I was a little bit shocked first going out there. The speed of the game is noticeably faster, but I think as time went on I got more comfortable out there. Hopefully I can build off that moving forward.” – Bruins rookie D-man Matt Grzelcyk on his first NHL preseason game being a bit of a big wakeup call.