Offensive explosion propels Bruins

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Offensive explosion propels Bruins

BOSTON -- The Bruins' five-game winning streak isn't tough to figure out.

Goals, goals, goals.

"It's been great," Milan Lucic said Saturday after Boston's 6-2 win over Buffalo. "We're doing a good job in the neutral zone, in the defensive zone. We're getting opportunities. We're bearing down on them and you know . . . coming up as a five man unit and supporting one another. I think that's ultimately what's given us the success that we're getting."

The scoring surplus is a relief.

Boston began its NHL title defense with an underwhelming 3-7-0 record. The phrase "Stanley Cup hangover" was used and overused, but the team could do little to deny it. Through their first 10 games, the Bruins goals scored 22 goals, while their opponents scored 25.

Their goals foragainst ratio in the last four games? 24-to-3.

For perspective: Boston hasn't scored at least five times in five-straight games since 1986. Scoring six or more goals in four straight contests hasn't been done since 1978.

It's escaped no one that the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line, pieced together at the end of October, leads the offensive outpouring. Both wingers scored in Thursday's over a normally stingy Buffalo defense (2.36 average goals allowed going into Saturday's game).

Marchand spoke of their chemistry modestly.

"We are starting to click a little better here now. You see some plays where we are starting to find each other now. We know where to be. Seguin is obviously a pretty easy guy to play with because of his great skill-set. We are gelling a little better now, we just have to keep it going."

A "little better"?

Marchand's assist and third period goal on Satruday stretches his career-best point streak to five games (3G, 5A). The"clicking" was showcased in the second period on a Marchand breakaway. After picking off a Sabres pass in the neutral zone, he flew in on goalie Ryan Miller's right. Seguin hopped off the bench to fill the opposite lane. Marchand held off, showing great patience in waiting for Miller to commit before passing off to Seguin for the one-timer.

It was Seguin's 11th goal of the season.

Not only does he lead all Bruins, his 11th tally also matches that of his entire rookie campaign. His proficiency has inspired Boston's surge; Seguin's lit the lamp eight times (and has three assists) in the last six contests.

He's on pace for 61 goals.

"Whenever you score, you're never going to be disappointed," Seguin smiled. "You can never score too much and right now I'm burying most of my opportunities. But I feel like my two goals tonight, I don't know what I really did, it was really just the linemates work and me just finishing."

Claude Julien is thrilled with the production, saying Seguin has exceeded the expectations of the coaching staff. But he also credited the man centering his young, speedy wingers: Patrice Bergeron.

"I think Bergy's the guy that's the reliable guy on that line," Julien said. "He's always in the right spot, even defensively. Once in a while, one of those two guys are going to end up blowing the zone in a little quick, and that's where Bergy comes in and repairs the damage. That's the thing: they get the opportunities and they make the best of it."

Faceoffs wins -- often via Bergeron -- have been huge in creating chances.

Boston leads the NHL with a 54.5 percentage in the circle. Bergeron is ranked 8th in the league behind first line center David Krejci. The Bruins' third and fourth pivots, Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell, are 27th and 41st, respectively.

As their success on the dot shows, the Bruins are deep. It's why they're is getting production up and down the lineup: 13 different players have registered a point and 12 have scored goals during the win streak.

Are the gaudy numbers good to last? Six goals per game would be an impossible clip for any team to sustain, and the Bruins know it.

"You go through spurts like this during the year," Marchand said. "And then you go through spurts like we did during the first bit of our season. We can't get too high and we can't get too excited about it. We have to make sure we stay calm and focused for each game."

Considering the rut Boston started in, the team appreciates experiencing the other extreme. Now they know what they're capable of: winning, and winning big.

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.