Morning Skate 56: B's ready to 'do some damage'

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Morning Skate 56: B's ready to 'do some damage'

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON So heres an interesting tweet from the NHL that really explains how important closing things out is for the Bruins: @NHL: Did you know? Bruins are 1 "W" away from their 1st conf. final since '92. Only other teams who haven't made final 4 since: Phx CBJ Nas Atl.Thats right. Only the orphan Coyotes' franchise in Glendale, the small-market, NHL version of the Minnesota Twins (Nashville), and the downtrodden hockey franchises in Columbus and Atlanta have been held out of the conference finals since 1992 . . . along with the Original Six Black and Gold.If the Bs want to make a statement, then its time to borrow a few pop culture phrases: the always favored Sweep the Leg from the Karate Kid and Finish Him! command from the classic Mortal Kombat video game. The Bruins have the Philadelphia Flyers reeling, doubting themselves and severely regretting their decision to solve their goaltending issues on the cheap for this season. Theres also the statement that the Bruins know they can make by stepping on the Broad Street Bullies while the team is down, and in doing so fully vanquishing the questions about last years debacle against Philly in Games 4-7.
Brad Marchand is one of the new guys that never got on the ice last playoffs when he was scratched in favor of veteran Trent Whitfield during the postseason, and the smallest guy on the ice is ready to make the biggest difference in a closeout game.Its always a tough battle, but we have the home-ice advantage, said Marchand. You have to keep the collapse in the back of your mind just in case you need to use it whether youre up or down. We have a different team and I think over the half of the guys are new on the team this year.Its a new mentality. We have a great crew here and we know we can do some damage. If were focused and playing hard then were going to put ourselves in a good position. Theres a ton of pressure on us. Everybody is going to be looking at us to see if were going to fold. We have to make sure we keep that stuff away from our team and stay prepared for the game.On to the links: The Edmonton Journal explores how possible it is that the Oilers could end up leaving Edmonton for another city looking for a hockey team. Yahoo! Sports catches with Jaromir Jagr to talk about a possible return to the NHL, concussions and life in the KHL as a veritable hockey deity on Russia. The Globe and Mail has a good piece on a player from a different generation that shows hockey players did get concussions in the Old Time Hockey days and are trying to help pave the way for research. TSNs Scott Cullen has a look at Vancouvers Ryan Kesler, who plunged a dagger into the Nashville Predators on Thursday night in their series and has the Canucks poised for the kill. Damien Cox is catching the Smashville fever while watching the Predators go through the postseason, and win or lose they are a hockey success story in a non-hockey market. Jaspers Rink has a good look at Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, and the vultures flying around his office in the Nations capital after another early playoff exit. The Green Men have taken over the NHL and were in Nashville last night amusing Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban as they took in the PredatorsCanucks tilt at Bridgestone Arena. Good stuff from NHL draft guru Kirk Luedeke asking if the Memorial Cup and championship-level junior teams produce better hockey prospects than other comparative teams around junior hockey.

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

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.