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

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.