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

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic.