Notes: Physical Bruins not keying on revenge

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Notes: Physical Bruins not keying on revenge

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON The Bruins arent going to shy away from their punishing, physical style, but theyre certainly not coming into Thursday nights regular-season finale with revenge on their minds.

The 1-3-1 record in five previous games against Montreal might be somewhere in the collective conscience, and the ability to push their divisional lead to five points in the Northeast Division is one of the first orders of Bs business.

We prepare for it to get the two points, just like every other game, said Andrew Ference, who has played in dozens of Habs-Bruins games over the last five seasons. Thats the reality of it. Its not good for writing, but thats the way it is. They are all intense games when you see the same guys over and over again, and if you happen to be tight in the standings then those games are always intense.

As for adventure and excitement, the Bruins don't crave these things against the Habs.

Everybody talks about revenge and whats going to happen and the build-up, said Milan Lucic. Im sure theyre saying the most important thing for them is getting the two points, and Im sure for them the most important is getting the two points because theyre right behind us in the standings.

Thats the only thing in mind for us: to create more of a separation between us and them. All of our focus is going into the game and building on what we did against the Devils, a 4-1 win on Tuesday night.

The Bs perhaps got a little gun shy in the next few games following the Zdeno CharaMax Pacioretty incident in Montreal as the long road wore them down, and some truly disconcerting losses followed. The Bruins cant afford to lose their nerve or deviate from their pounding physical style against Montreal, and need to fully utilize their size and strength against the speedy, skilled Habs.

Its the classic battle of two hockey teams with different strengths, and it hasnt been a good match for Boston during the regular season. The Bruins hope to impose their will on Montreal as they havent been able to all season, and set the tone for a likely first round playoff grudge match between both legendary rivals.

The NHL has assigned a pair of respected veteran refs to preside over the TD Garden ice, and both GMs were taken aside by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman with the hopes of avoiding another 187 penalty minute extravaganza. Given the gravity of the two points, it isnt expected to devolve into an utter gong show as the last game did.

But the Bruins are unapologetically brutish on the ice.

I dont think theres any reason why we should shy away from the physicality, said Lucic. I think the NHL will be watching. Obviously the last game at home there was a lot of stuff going on, and who is to say there wont be a lot of stuff going on in this one.

As of now theyre looking at every game for something to happen. Theyve been a tough opponent this year . . . and we want to end this season series off on a good note.

Zdeno Chara was asked if he expected any of the Canadiens players to come after him during Thursday nights, and said he didnt know. Its doubtful that anybody on the Montreal roster is feeling frisky enough to challenge Chara. Any extracurricular activity would be with other members of Bostons roster.

All in all Chara has handled all of the attention, questions and Montreal vitriol with admirable strength, and has seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) and a plus-5 in the six games since his collision with Max Pacioretty at the Bell Centre.

I dont know. Youd have to ask Montreal that question because any retribution would be coming from their end, wouldnt it? said coach Claude Julien. I think Chara had a solid game the other night. I think Zee has handled himself as well as he possibly can and hes fine. In moving forward there is a lot to work on and build on, and thats where our focus is.

Bruins president Cam Neely seemed to insinuate that one of Bostons goaltenders really needed to rise up and seize the starting spot for the playoffs, and Tim Thomas made a big statement with 30 saves in the win over the New Jersey Devils. Thomas career numbers against the Canadiens arent even close to his best, and the 9-14 record, .904 save percentage and 3.16 goals against average are among the worst career numbers against any NHL team.

Youve got to look at the bigger picture and look at the way that the team played. If your team doesnt play well and you always rely on your goaltender to be there every night, and I think its a combination of all of us, said Julien. We all have to be better. Thats what we have to focus on: being a better hockey club than weve been against this team this year.

The Bruins signed defenseman Marc Cantin to an entry-level contract. Cantin, a 6-foot-1, 201-pound native of Omemee, Ontario, had 41 points (10 goals, 31 assists) and 78 PIMs in 61 games for the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors of the Ontario Hockey League. In 249 career OHL games with Mississauga St. Michaels, Windsor and Belleville, the 20-year-old has 80 points and 278 PIMs.

He also was invited to, and participated in, last summers Bruins Development Camp at Ristuccia Arena.

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

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold. 

Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

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Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

BOSTON – The Bruins are starting to run out of adjectives and descriptors for these “no-show” performances on home ice.

The Bruins made it twice in two months that they’ve dropped a disappointing dud to one of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams when they came out flat, and never showed any signs of life in a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. The lack of effort and pitiful results were particularly disappointing coming off a solid five game stretch where they’d engineered high effort wins over Florida, St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Patrice Bergeron finished a minus-3 on the afternoon, and said in quasi-disgust that he knew five minutes into the game that his team didn’t have “it” on Monday.

“Something that we talked [headed into Monday was] about building from the last few weeks, and how good it felt around the room, I guess, with winning games basically,” said Bergeron. “[The shutout loss] just shows that you have to show up every night and not take things for granted. I think we did [take things for granted] this afternoon.

“It was about finding someone to get us a shift to get us going basically. We had a few good shifts there, and we sustained a little bit of pressure there. But then we just couldn’t keep that for the next lines after going, we couldn’t sustain that or build from that. It was really the whole team throughout the lineup that didn’t show up and, you know, it’s obviously inexcusable, unacceptable.”

Claude Julien mentioned the compacted schedule and potential fatigue playing into the Bruins looking “flat” on Monday against the Islanders, and perhaps that is partially to blame for an uncharacteristically lifeless performance from the Black and Gold. But the B’s essentially did nothing for 60 minutes after not having played for 48 hours dating back to a Saturday afternoon matinee win over the Flyers, so the fatigue excuse is difficult to swallow.

Instead it looked like a Bruins team that thought they were going to roll out the pucks and beat the worst team in the Metro Division that had lost four-of-five games. Instead a defensive zone breakdown led to a Nikolay Kulemin goal midway through the second period, and the Bruins collapsed after that. Josh Bailey tucked a short side goal past a late-reacting Tuukka Rask for a soft serve special allowed by Boston’s ace goaltender, and Kulemin scored again in the second period once the Bruins began cheating at the offensive end of the ice.

To make matters worse, the Bruins showed zero fight or willingness to scratch and claw their way back into the game in the third period. Instead it looked like they quit on two points that could end up being extremely important at the end of the season.

It also looked like the Bruins weren’t ready to play, and that they overlooked the downtrodden Islanders for the second time in as many months.

“Maybe we took them a little lightly, but we just weren’t ready [to play],” said Brad Marchand. “We have to look ourselves in the mirror and all be a little bit better. We all have to be prepared for every game. You can’t look at the guy besides us and think he’s going to do the job. We have to take a little onus on ourselves and all be a little bit better. As a team, again, we have to play the system together and we have to back each other up. We have to play as one unit and we didn’t do that.”

It’s long past the point where the words even matter that the Bruins are uttering after games like Monday afternoon. Instead it’s about results and nothing else, and the B’s were nothing short of putrid in that category against the Islanders with points at a premium this time of year.