Haggerty: Here we go again


Haggerty: Here we go again

By Joe Haggerty

TAMPA, Fla. The Bruins have been here before, and it wasnt even that long ago.

They carried a 3-2 edge over the Montreal Canadiens into Game 6 during in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but couldnt get the deal done in a 2-1 loss at the Bell Centre.

The story was similar here Wednesday night when the Bruins took a 3-2 lead into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Lightning but wound up losing, 5-4.

Anytime youre playing against a team thats fighting for their lives its always harder to win, especially when youre on the road in their building, said Brad Marchand. With the crowd and everything else, the crowd can get to you a little bit. That was a tough atmosphere . . . Both games against Montreal and against Tampa Bay were a couple of tough scenarios for us.

That Game 6 in Montreal was an eminently winnable one-goal affair that the Bruins couldn't capitalize on because of an avalanche of mistakes, frayed concentration, a stagnant power play, and multiple man-advantage situations for the Habs. It was a similar story in Game 6 against Tampa Bay.

Now the series heads back to TD Garden for the win-or-go-home matchup Friday night.

Weve had the experience of it," said coach Claude Julien. "We need to take the experience and utilize it again."

That experience also gave the B's a taste of the pressure they'll be facing Friday night. A first-round loss to Montreal would have been the Bruins' third consecutive postseason disappointment under Julien, and speculation was rampant that jobs -- Julien's certainly, but perhaps even general manager Peter Chiarelli's -- were hanging on the balance of that game.

"I think we had a lot of pressure on" against Montreal, Julien said.

Everyone is probably safe no matter what happens Friday night, since a berth in the Conference Finals is a fairly noteworth achievement. But the way this series has played out -- Bruins unable to hold a 3-0 lead in Game 4, unable to hold a 2-1 lead in Game 6 last night -- would still leave a sour taste if the B's are unable to close the deal in Game 7 on Friday.

Also disconcerting is the fact that we're now 17 games into this playoff run, and the problems the Bruins have had from the beginning have yet to be resolved. The Bs shot themselves in the foot again Wednesday night with a power play that -- despite scoring one goal -- only mustered five shots on net in five different chances, and similarly couldnt get it done one more time on the penalty kill despite shutting down Tampas PP 11 straight head times coming into the game.

"I thought tonight our guys competed fairly well, but those penalties ended up costing us," said Julien. "Our power play ended up costing us. We need to minimize that stuff and come out hard next game."

They also need to maximize their discipline. The Bruins were hit with too many avoidable penalties, leading to four Tampa Bay power plays . . . and the Lightning capitalized three times.

Now it's another elimination game.

This is it. This is a chance that many of us will not see for a long time, said David Krejci, who led the Bs with a hat trick Wednesday night. Its there for us, but weve got to go get it. Theyre not going to give it us."

The Bruins, need we remind you, are only 3-7 in elimination games under Julien. Still, they've proven theyre a different team this year. They've responded to challenging situations all season -- they shook off the Game 6 debacle and finished off the Canadiens in Game 7 -- and will need to summon that spirit and mental strength one more time against the Lightning.

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

O'Gara sent to Providence, but could return any time


O'Gara sent to Providence, but could return any time

BOSTON – The writing was on the wall once Rob O’Gara was scratched in the last couple of games, and he was finally sent down to Providence on Tuesday. The move was made to clear room for Adam McQuaid to rejoin the B’s lineup, and help the Bruins continue improving from their 15th rank among team defenses in the NHL this season.

The 23-year-old O’Gara was a plus-1 rating in three games to start the season, and played very well in 16:01 of ice time while winning physical battles, adequately moving the puck and generally showing that he’s got a future in the NHL. With veteran defenders returning and little margin for error on a B’s back end already featuring 19-year-old Brandon Carlo, it was too much to attempt carrying two rookies on an NHL defensemen corps for a long stretch of time.

So now O’Gara will go to Providence where he’ll play bigger minutes, play in all situations and stay ready for the next time Boston needs him.

“He’s good. I think he makes good passes when he has time. I think we want him to work on maybe being under pressure, and being a little stronger on his feet and being able to make better plays,” said Claude Julien. “But he’s really close. When I say he’s real close I think you could see him back here at any time. I have no issues with Rob O’Gara.

“I think as a young player he has to play, so when we can play [him again] I have no issues with him in our lineup. If he doesn’t get [the playing time] here then we’ve got to get it for him somewhere else.”

While O’Gara is going to Providence for some more AHL development at this point in time, there’s a tacit acknowledgement from the Bruins that the big, hard-working defenseman is definitely going to be a valued part of their future.

Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient


Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It may be strictly due to injuries or because Ryan Spooner is being moved back to third line center full-time, but Danton Heinen is going to get another top-six look on the wing. The 21-year-old Bruins prospect will be skating on the left wing with David Krejci and Matt Beleskey in Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild after serving as a healthy scratch last weekend against the Montreal Canadiens.

Heinen has only two shots on goal in the four games leading up to the scratch, and has been quiet offensively after leading the Bruins in goal-scoring during the preseason. Clearly there’s an adjustment to be made there, and it looked like the playmaking rookie winger was starting to develop a little more confidence trying to make plays while skating with Krejci and David Backes in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils.

Heinen actually looked reminiscent of Krejci on a couple of plays, pulling back the puck after entering the zone and catching a trailing B’s teammate with a perfectly executed lead pass on the offensive rush. That effort plus a trip to the ninth floor press box last weekend seemed to reinforce just how much time he has to make plays, and that should be a benefit for both Heinen and his linemates.

Sometimes getting that first NHL point is the hardest part when a player breaks into the league, and it’s been that way for the young winger through his first four games.

“[Krejci] is such a good player, and I just try to complement him any way I can,” said Heinen. “You never want to be up in the press box, but it gives you a different perspective on the game. It’s a different angle. From up there it looks like you’ve got way more time. I definitely think I can be more patient with the puck, and make some smarter plays.”

Heinen started to do that in his best NHL game to date prior to being scratched against New Jersey, and it resulted in greater offensive possession and a couple of potential scoring plays getting created for the B’s second line. Unfortunately it didn’t lead to actual goals, and Heinen knows that’s what needs to happen through him if a player like him, with an offense-minded reputation from his University of Denver days, is going to stick top-6 in Boston.

“You can’t rely on the [top] guys every night,” said Heinen, who watched the Habs beat the Bruins on Saturday night while essentially shutting down Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. “When we’ve been out there we’ve kind of been getting some chances, but we’ve got to bear down.

“[Krejci] likes to play with the puck a lot, so you just get him the puck, go in hard on the forecheck and try to get open because he’s a good distributor.”

It sounds like a simple plan that might be a very good thing for young Heinen, who needs to start breaking through offensively if he wants to stick around in Boston for the long haul.