Haggerty: Forwards pull disappearing act

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Haggerty: Forwards pull disappearing act

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
VANCOUVER Its not good when you hear passenger talk after a Stanley Cup Finals playoff game.

That was the general message some of the Bruins players were sending after a largely lifeless 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 5 at Rogers Arena.

Nobody used the word passenger -- a term reserved for those who give something less than 100 percent -- but its clear there was frustration that the Black and Gold have not been able to muster a consistent effort in the three games in Vancouver after dominating on the road all year long.

It seems like we never do things the easy way here, said Michael Ryder. Its always hard. Were a character group and we grind it out. Its all about work ethic and leaving everything we have out there on Monday in Game 6.

The Bruins enjoyed three power-play chances in the first period and got a couple of quality bids by Patrice Bergeron on one of those man advantages, but Roberto Luongo was able to stop Bergeron's first shot and then deflect a follow-up rebound off his blocker.

Other than that quick flurry, the Bruins got a whole lot of nothing out of their forward group in a game that could have given them the lead in the seven-game series.

Whether it was because of the fatigue from cross-country travel, or their inability to drown out the Rogers Arena crowd, or the absence of Nathan Horton, it appeared as though the Bruins' forwards didn't bring the same work ethic that won them Games 3 and 4.

They lost the battle in the faceoff circle, got smacked around (47 registered hits by Vancouver), and they werent willing to pay the price when it came to pressuring Luongo in between the pipes. Rather than stand in front when the shots were being fired from their defensemen, the Bruins' interior players were getting pushed to the side of the net by Vancouver's active defense.

Combined with the Canuck skaters tightening up their gap in the neutral zone, it spelled doom for Bostons offensive push.

It wasn't a good night for our whole team as far as creating good, quality scoring chances, said coach Claude Julien. We had some, but the thing that we need to do a lot better is get to that front of the net.

We had guys, again, there, but on the side of the net. We need to be a little more aggressive in that area than we were tonight. That's so huge for a hockey club and we need that.

Horton, of course, was one of the biggest players the Bruins had for hunting out pucks near the net. But Friday nights Game 5 was the first time Hortons absence from the lineup was so painfully obvious.

The Bs coach attempted to mix-and-match with Ryder, Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin on that top-line right-wing spot in Hortons place, but none of them slotted in as well as Peverley did in Game 4.

Besides Bergeron, who was Bostons best forward with six shots on net, nearly every other center and winger on the Bruins roster could have been classified as a passenger after Game 5. Eleven forwards -- all but Bergeron -- combined for 10 shots on goal. Thats not anywhere close to creating enough offense in a Stanley Cup Finals game.

Ryder, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic were the worst of the bunch. All of them were forces during the games in Boston, but they accounted for exactly zero shots on net Friday night and only Ryder had something approaching a good scoring chance with a shot that rang off the crossbar. Lucic went back to being an invisible man. And not only was Marchand not scoring or playing with speed, he wasnt even doing his duties as Boston's agitator.

The defense was more than passable, shutting down the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler once again, but it got no support on the scoreboard.

I dont know how to explain it, said Lucic. Weve done it the hard way this year and this is something we have to earn. We didnt make the most of this opportunity. But the good thing is that we have another one, and we have to make the most of it.

At times we werent moving our feet and standing still. In Boston we were moving our feet to create speed and we didnt do that enough tonight. In the last five games on the road it seems like we havent had all 20 guys going like we do at home.

Even David Krejci, the Bruins' leading goal-scorer in the playoffs, struggled.

He was given over 20 minutes of ice time during the game and managed only a single shot on net while adjusting to a series of right wingers who couldn't replace the smiling guy who was there all year.

In fact, watching three different players rotating around on the right wing while Julien found a workable combination was reminiscent of last season when there was no suitable replacement for Phil Kessel. Remember how that turned out?

The Bruins have to hope for a different result when they take the ice Monday night for Game 6 in their own building, and then need to devise some kind of offensive game plan that will actually work in British Columbia.

That is, if they're able to force a Game 7.

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

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while doing some early Christmas shopping ahead of the late rush. 

*Mike Zeisberger sits down with a quartet of NHL governors and discusses a number of hot topics including the Vegas franchise and scoring around the league. 

*Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos has been removed from the NHL Board of Governor’s Executive Committee amid rumors that the Canes might be a prime candidate for relocation. 

*Pierre McGuire weighs in on Connor McDavid’s war of words on the ice and Carey Price losing his mind in the crease against the New Jersey Devils. To that end, Wayne Gretzky liked seeing McDavid get a little combative at such a young age. 

*The New York Islanders signed Cal Clutterbuck to a five year contract extension, and some are skeptical it will turn out well for the Isles.

*David Pastrnak is a premier scoring threat in the league, and Scott Cullen has some details behind that. I will say this: his stock falling in the draft had less to do with his size or heaviness, and more to do with him being concussed for a long stretch of time during the year leading up to the draft. 

*The Florida Panthers are really struggling to stay positive with a 1-5-0 record since the ownership group and management decided to fire Gerard Gallant. 

*For something completely different: Baywatch stars then and now.