Notes: Kessel breaks through against Bruins

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Notes: Kessel breaks through against Bruins

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON It would seem that the odds finally caught up to the Bruins.

For nine games the Bruins defense chewed up and spit out Phil Kessel every chance they got, and completely shutdown the winger in the goal-scoring department.

And everybody knows that Kessel without the goal-scoring ability isnt much of a hockey player at all. But the young right wing instead heeded the advice of the Toronto coaching staff, and changed the tape on his stick from white to black just prior to Tuesday nights game.

The change in tape led to Kessel potting a pair of goals including the game-tying strike in the third period on the way to a 4-3 victory for Toronto in a home tilt at the Garden that went completely awry.

The first goal opened up Torontos scoring in the first period, and the second goal was a sweet individual move that saw Phil the Thrill blow right by Dennis Seidenberg on the way to scoring a goal past Tim Thomas. With the two goals, Kessel had his first goals against his former team and also blew up a 14-game goal-scoring drought in the process.

The youngster was the first to admit that his lack of success at the Garden was undeniable, but didnt seem to publicly bask in the boos raining down on him after he made his former team pay the price with two goals.

I havent done anything in this building yet, until tonight, said Kessel. They are a very good team over there and we were fortunate to come out of here with a win.

Toronto coach Ron Wilson saw a pair of players in Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski that were giving that extra little bit of hustle, and doing battle with Zdeno Chara despite the fact the big defenseman level Grabovski at least twice throughout the game.

That was without a doubt Phils best game, not just because he scored, said Wilson. He was in on the forecheck, he was in banging around with Zdeno Chara and he did a good job in our end, too. He won some battles on the boards and he changed the color of the tape on his stick. I dont know if anybody noticed, he went from white to black.

Kessel certainly noticed the change in his sticks, and perhaps thats something more players will take into account when theyre putting together a summer plan.

Patrice Bergeron potted his 20th goal of the season in the third period, and in doing so put together the third 20-goal season of his career. It was also the first time that Bergeron has potted 20 goals in a season since prior to the horrific concussion suffered at the hands of Randy Jones and the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007-08.

The goal was a beauty with Bergeron simply defeating Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf during a battle in front of the net for a rebound, and then Bergeron popped in a second-effort attempt to give Boston short-lived lead. From there it was collapse, and thats what the Bruins need to work on despite Bergerons abilities to compete and succeed.

You hope so. And were a team that normally is capable of closing when you take the lead in the third. The goals that we gave up after that were just bad goals, and its not just one mistake, said Claude Julien. Its two and three. There was different ways of preventing those.

We all have to take blame in the way that our team is playing right now and Im going to put myself in that as well. Right now we need to be a little bit more emotionally involved in these games.

Peter Chiarelli indicated that because Chris Kelly was a Canadian native playing for a Canadian team in Ottawa, visa problems would likely make it impossible for the Senators center to participate in practice on Wednesday.

Daniel Paille returned from a four-game suspension and potted the teams first goal of the night to give the Bruins an early 1-0 lead.

I definitely wanted to make an impact as soon as possible, whether it was a check or just keep moving my feet and getting to the puck first, said Paille. You know I did that but I needed to continue to do it throughout the whole game and we kept getting power plays and penalty kills so it was tough to get out there five on five.

Johnny Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the first time this season on Tuesday night against the Leafs with Adam McQuaid, Mark Stuart and Steve Kampfer playing effectively for Bostons blueline corps.

I think his battle is still good and stuff like that, said Julien. But I think, again, when it comes to puck decision hes had his fair share of challenges there.

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

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Roughly 12 hours after embattled Bruins coach Claude Julien bristled at a question about his job security and labeled it “shock journalism” in the heat of the moment after a tight loss to the Blackhawks, the B’s bench boss delivered a classy, heartfelt response to the same question.

Julien was asked about it in French by a reporter from the Montreal Gazette, but answered in English because of the “loyalty he feels to the people in Boston.”

In essence, Julien basically said he should be relieved of his duties if he’s deemed to be behind what ails the Black and Gold, but he’s going to keep working to fix things until that day comes.

It was exactly the kind of response you would expect from a coach who's taken the B’s to the mountaintop in his 10 years running the team and will always be respected and loved in Boston long after his coaching days are done.

“How do I deal with all of the rumors and all that is going on? I didn’t feel like [Friday night] was the appropriate time for me to answer that after a game where you’re emotions are pretty high. I wasn’t getting into that, but to be honest with you my job is to coach the hockey club,” said Julien. “Am I worried about my job? No, I’m not. Because it’s not my job to worry about it. My job is to fix things, and my job is to coach this team and do everything I can. If I become one of the reasons that we’re not doing well, then management has to make that decision.

“It’s not my decision to make. I’m not quitting on this team. I’m not quitting on anybody. I’m not quitting on management. I’m ready and willing to go through the hard times, and I said that at the end of last year. If it’s deemed my fault, then I shouldn’t be here, and that’s all I can say.”

While the Bruins roster is clearly less than perfect and has a larger dose of youthful players than in years past, Julien also freely admitted that they should be held to a higher standard after proving many nights that they should be a playoff team. That’s the mandate from Bruins ownership and that’s the challenge that Julien has willingly accepted.

It’s also the challenge that’s falling a bit short now as they’ve lost three crushing games in a row and have fallen behind the Ottawa Senators in the playoff standings, with Toronto also right behind them holding six games in hand.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

Julien and the Bruins are headed to Pittsburgh for a Sunday matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and will have two games against the red-hot Pens headed into an All-Star break weekend that must feel like a well-earned oasis for Julien at this point in the season. 

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.