Morning Skate 311: B's new guys need to step up

Morning Skate 311: B's new guys need to step up

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comIts time for the new guys in Black and Goldto step up after an extremely promising start.It looked like Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly were going to enjoy seamless transitions into the Bruins way of doing things after a handful of games, but it hasnt been all roses, puppy dogs and rainbows over the last two weeks.Its time for that to change after Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli hand-picked each ofthese particular players to assistvaulting him team over the top.Kaberle arrived in Boston with an All-Star pedigree and reputationas a bona fide difference-maker on the power play, but the puck-moving defenseman holds justone lonelyassist in nine games while Bostons vaunted power play is mired in an 0-for-19 drought dating back to Kaberles first game with Boston.Meanwhile Peverley clanged the left post in overtime last night on a nice littleplay that would have gone into the books as a rousing game-winner after he faked out the entire Sabres defense.The play clearly showed off some of the nifty, slippery moves in Peverley'sarsenal that have made him a 20-goal scorer in the NHL.But it was a few too many inches to the left as it rang post, and PeverleyKelly have three points (one goal, two assists) in 17 games with their new team, and need to start producing a few more results. In total, Peverley, Kaberle and Kelly have five points in 26 games with the Bruins and havent been the offensive booster shot that anyone had hoped for but there also needs to be some time allowed for transitioning into a new way of doing things.The new trio got that time in the Western part of Canada during a week-long Bruins orientation trip, and now its about getting things done on the ice.Yeah, weve got all those things starting to go right now, said Peverley of the chances he received in his first game with a couple of new linemates. Were getting chances. But weve got to keep shooting. At this point its about getting some production because were getting the chances.Peverley has been given power play minutes and now sits with a prominent role on the right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and needs to start showing some of the spark he featured during low-pressure situations with the Atlanta Thrashers.Nathan Horton has caught fire with Bostons first line and the fourth line continues to kick in valued offense, so now its up to the new guys to start pulling their fair share of the weight.On to the links:Gary Bettman is getting into Richard measuring contests with sponsors and other NHL power brokers, but theres a reason for that: hes in the beginning of a new five-year deal as NHL commissioner, as noted by NBC Pro Hockey Talk.The Montreal Gazette gets a 2-for-1 in writing a love letter to Habs coach Jacques Martin while also cracking on Team 990 sports radio personalities in Montreal. Hey, I like the Team 990.Steve Montador can do a lot more than serve as a punching bag for opponents as an NHL defenseman. He can also attempt to bad-mouth the Captain of the Bruins in an interesting interview with Buffalo radio.Bruce Arthur doesnt like the hockey play defense for certain controversial hockey hits. As far I can tell, this is a Bruce Arthur problem rather than an NHL problem.Antti Niemi is coming up big for the San Jose Sharks in their second-half surge, and USA Todays Kevin Allen is there to provide detail.A Montreal newspaper believes that Zdeno Chara crossed the line by hitting Max Pacioretty. You dont say?CSNNE.coms own Mike Felger lambasting the Montreal Canadiens fan base in his always-entertaining mailbag. Let the bridges he burns light the way.The Hockey News Adam Proteau takes a crack at why so few NHL coaches have been fired this year, and no its not because its the most well-coached season in pro hockey history.A good piece by SI.coms Adrian Dater on the resurgence of the Calgary Flames under the watchful eye of GM Jay Feaster. Its amazing what happens when you call in a hockey exterminator and start getting rid of those pesky Sutters.

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder. 
 

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.