Haggerty: Time for Bruins to move on


Haggerty: Time for Bruins to move on

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Friday is the first day of the rest of the Bruins lives, a day when they have to realize that one of the greatestparties in their lives isover.

The Bs hosted one final, grand Stanley Cup shindig on Thursday night when they raised the 2010-11Cup championship banner with coaches, players, ownership, former Bruins Mark Recchi and Shane Hnidy, and distinguished alumni like beautifulBobby Orr and the agelessMilt Schmidt.

It was more than a half-hour of festivities that included each Bs player triumphantlyraising the Cup over their heads on the TD Garden ice, and Recchi getting presented with the Starter Bruins jacket that had passed from player to player as a symbolic "performer of the game" award last year.

Tim Thomas said it was an otherworldly experience that would take multiple lifetimes to forget, but, really, who would want to? Thomas certainly doesn't.

That was a special moment. It was another one to add to the memory bank that youll remember forever, said Thomas. While it was happening I was picturing myself coming back and visiting for a game 30 years from now and looking and that banner and saying, 'We helped raised that banner.'

It was a great piece of closure for a magical 25-game postseason run that ended with an exhilarating celebration on the Rogers Arena ice in Vancouver, and allowed the Bruins to finally bathe in celebration in their own building. Another golden banner was hoisted into the TD Garden ceiling, and the crowd basked in the joy of a celebration held with just the the right amounts of nostalgia, energy and chest-thumpingemotion.

It was great, it was outstanding and it was well done, said coach Claude Julien. I was doing my best to keep my mind on doing my job, and the game. It was emotional, to say the least.

When you see the highlights and when you see your players going around the ice with the Cup, I felt proud for them. Emotionally, it was tough for me I kind of walked away for a while and came back and, you know, it just goes to show you the emotions that go into those kinds of things. Even seeing Mark Recchi and Hnidy when they were here you know, guys that really played big parts in different ways in helping us succeed. To see them with the group, to know it was their last opportunity to be with the team . . . those kinds of things kind of hit home.The players -- both old and young -- knew this final Garden party would be it for their Cup fulfillment, and so they let their emotions run wild one last time despite the knowledge that a regular season game awaited them.It was special. The whole package that we got to do all summer in this city was quite an experience, said Ference. To be on the ice with 1972 Bruins team that everybody knows quite a bit and to be in their company and put a banner up beside them was a very special thing. We were all very honored by the ceremony."

But then the Bruins went out and executeda pancakeflat performance in a 2-1 loss to the Flyers that demonstrated its equally important they nowmove onto the remaining 81 games, which wont include commemorative banner patches on their jerseys. Thursday was the best kind of closure, but that's exactly what it will amount when looking back on this current season of Bruins hockey.

Most guys were prepared for it and knew they had to switch modes really quickly, and I think they did," said Ference. "We just got frustrated when we didnt capitalize on some of our chances.

With a fun allusion to partying late into the night and draining the champagne bottle, the Bs coach said in no uncertain terms that its time to move on. And when Julien says the party is truly over, then its time to turn out the lights and say good night.

"When people are partying and you stay out until 4 a.m. for couple of days, you get tired of it, right? said Julien.

The champagne bottle is empty and its time to go home. We had great time with the Cup. Weve had great experiences, but we need to turn the page.

Its time for Milan Lucic to once again become the locomotive physical presence even when his offense isnt coming quite as easily, and for so many members of the Bs to sharpen up on their defensive gap control. It's time for Zdeno Chara to put a hurting on Claude Giroux when he dances through the offensive en route to beating Tim Thomas without much of a challenge.

It's time for David Krejci, Lucic and Nathan Horton to show more offensive punch than they showed in the first two periods when they went without a single shot on net, which didn't win any party favors from Julien afterward. It's time for Joe Corvo to show the promise he flashed during the training camp.

It's time for the lapses --the aforementioned Giroux was able to dance much too freely into the offensive zone while turning aroundthe entire Bruins' defensefor the Flyers first goal, and an unforgivable breakdown in concentration allowed Philly to add on a Jakob Voracek goal seconds later -- to stop.

It was a banner night figuratively and literally, but it didnt have a happy ending in the short term with a loss to the rival Flyers in a one-goal game Thursday night. Now the team must summon the resolve and grit that was so prevalent in 2010-11 to truly get the new season under way.

The Bruins need to turn the page, close the book or use whatever literary metaphor they want to prove that last year is now officiallyover.

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

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

BOSTON -- One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Much like Charlie Brown was never going to actually kick the football before Lucy pulled it away, it feels like the Bruins are never again going to beat the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. They failed again Saturday night, never holding a lead at any point as they dropped their ninth straight home game to the Habs, 4-2.

Bruins-Canadiens games in Boston have become the hockey version of 'Groundhog Day', as the same patterns emerge over and over again: Montreal's speed forces the Bruins into mistakes with the puck; Habs players draw the B’s into taking bad penalties; Carey Price dominates in goal. It's been that way ever since the last Bruin victory over Montreal at the Garden, on Jan. 12, 2012. To put it perspective, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin were still Bruins back then.

Saturday night's loss, though, had a little added twist: The B's second-period woes, such a problem last year, reared its ugly head again.

“[The second period was] terrible, and that’s where it really hurt us," said Claude Julien. "I thought we played well (in the first period) . . . But the second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn’t make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end, and because of that, it gave them some momentum. And by the end of it, we cheated ourselves a little bit, and pucks ended up in the back of our net . . .

"[When] you give up four goals to Montreal, and you have Price at the other end, it’s pretty hard to beat that team. So we needed to be better . . . [We] shot ourselves in the foot with some real poor mistakes, and we can’t afford to do that against the Montreal Canadiens."

The Bruins were essentially done for after a couple of very typical Boston-Montreal plays went against them in the middle 20 minutes.

The first was a defensive coverage breakdown in the D-zone that allowed both Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher to operate with time and space. Five B’s players simply watched as Gallagher smoked a one-timer from the outside of the left circle that eluded Anton Khudobin.

Then, later in the period, John-Michael Liles misread a play where he pinched deep in the offensive zone and couldn’t control the puck. As a result, Alexander Radulov worked a 2-on-1 with Phillip Danault to skilled perfection on a typical Habs transition play.

"I think our second period has got to be better overall," said Patrice Bergeron. "We talked about them having a good forecheck . . . [but] we didn’t make the easy plays too many times. When you do that, it creates turnovers and you spend more time in your zone than you’d like to."

From there, it was just more of the same. Playing with the lead, Montreal was able to neutralize Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Bergeron never got a shot on goal. Price came up big when he had to, shutting down a couple of Ryan Spooner chances.

And Bruin weaknesses were exposed, things Julien and the coaching staff may have to address. It looks like it’s time to move on from the Joe Morrow/Torey Krug defense pairing; it's simply not working. (Krug, in particular, was a minus-3 and made mistakes all over the ice.) They also may need to switch things up with the forwards, as they're getting zippo offensively from their second and third lines.

To their credit, the Bruins never packed it in. They hung in and made plays in the third period to keep the game close, right up to the 6-on-3 advantage they had at the end. But there are no consolation prizes or moral victories in the Boston-Montreal rivalry, especially when the Habs have made it so one-sided.

To be a true rivalry, you need equal rivals. And the Bruins, especially at home, aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.