Recchi, Bergeron set the tone for Bruins

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Recchi, Bergeron set the tone for Bruins

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. There was no confirmation that Journey was playing in the background as he spoke, but there was a distinct Dont Stop Believing tone to Mark Recchis message when he addressed the Bruins prior to Game 3.

The 43-year-old Recchi, along with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, came together to form the Black and Gold's leadership triumvirate two years ago, and forged it with another strong season this year.

So on a team full of leaders, and in a time of need prior to Game 3, it was Bergeron who raised his game on the ice and it was Recchi who spoke to the team about his experience in 2006 while a member of the Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes

It was about the guys believing in each other said Recchi. "I joined the Hurricanes with 20 games left and saw how much the guys believed in what they were doing. They stayed with it and everyone believed in it. Its all about believing and believing in what weve done all year. Believing in each other and trusting what weve done all year. Trusting each other, and thats what it comes down to.

"If the Bruins didn't trust each other then we wouldnt have won Game 3, and now we have to believe in each other even more in Game 4 on Thursday. Trust each other that each guy is going to go out and do their job, and do good things for the hockey club like we have all year. If we do that, then weve put ourselves in good position to win a hockey game. If not then well be making it very hard for ourselves. Theres no better step than Thursday trying to get home ice back, and then we get back home and see where we go from there.

That 'Canes team was actually down 2-0 after a pair of home losses to the Montreal Canadiens, and roared back to defeat the Habs before winning right on through the Stanley Cup Finals. The easiest change in Carolinas fortune was the insertion of rookie goaltender Cam Ward into the series before a Game 3 win that turned things around.

But Recchi did his best Steve Perry impersonation while drawing parallels between that Carolina squad and this Boston team as the B's attempt the same unlikely, come-from-behind feat against the high-flying Habs.

Being through something like that shows you that you can do it, and that it can be done, said Recchi, his blue eyes flashing with excitement while hearkening back to the Stanley Cup memories. It was a lot of work, but you have to stay focused. Weve done it on the road all year, and its showed. We have to play another one, and were going to have to be even better in Game 4.

There are technical sides to winning hockey, to be sure.

The Bruins have to pursue all the textbook diligence in Claude Juliens hockey system, and that means dumping pucks deep, forechecking with reckless abandon and containing the speedy Montreal snipers. Most importantly, the Bs cant shoot themselves in the foot as they did with bad defensive zone play in the first two games.

A pair of soft five-hole goals allowed by Tim Thomas in Game 3 didnt help, either, but they survived those gaffes.

Theyre fast and theyre a very good hockey team said Recchi of the Canadiens, who should be hungry for a win in Game 4. So we have to be smart and understand that first five goals they scored in the series were off turnovers. They were basically all in the neutral zone and the defensive zone, and we have to be smart and wary of that. Were fast, too, but the system they run thrives on turnovers and theyre very good at it.

While Recchi has been solid with three assists and a plus-1 in three games and instrumental in calming the teams psyche off the ice, its been linemates Bergeron and Brad Marchand who have taken it to another level in each of the three games thus far.

Marchand has been all over the Montreal cage with golden scoring chances he hasnt quite yet buried.

The line has scorched the defense corps of Jaroslav Spacek and Brent Sopel regularly in the three games, and Bergeron has been Bostons best player from the beginning to current end of the series.

His Game 2 goal nearly pulled the Bruins back into that game, and his Game 3 effort all over the ice in a must-win match at the Bell Centre was downright inspired hockey.

Better than that, Bergeron has thrown his weight around in the playoffs with a bit more ferocity. The 25-year-old has also been noticeably more vocal in his own dressing room and in the face of opponents, and all of that reveals just how engaged Bergeron has been during the postseason.

Hes probably been our best forward. Hes such a good player for us. I think he was the No. 1 Star in Game 3 and I thought he was the best player out there, said coach Claude Julien. He just competes hard. Hes so focused and determined, and everything about his game is professional whether its conditioning, whether its rest or whether its focus or showing up for every game ready to play.

There are times when we talk about Patrice and say he hasnt scored in a little while, but no matter what he is doing something to help the hockey club. Thats what you want from your players. Hes more vocal than he ever has been. Earlier in his career he was a young player feeling his way through, but hes pretty confident now about his leadership role and qualities. Hes one of those guys that doesnt speak every game, but when he does speak he has their attention.

The one thing that does need to change: Bergeron is averaging almost three minutes of ice time less per game during the postseason than David Krejci and Milan Lucic, who have floundered with a combined minus-4 for much of the series. Bergeron is averaging a crisp 36 seconds per shift and getting on and off the ice with machine-like precision while also fully admitting that some of his shifts are a bit shorter due to his penalty-kill duties. Lucic (51 seconds), Krejci (53 seconds) and Horton (48 seconds) are all staying out on the ice for longer stretches of time with each shift, and tiring themselves out while going up and down the ice multiple times per twirl.

Perhaps its time for the Bs top line to get in line with the rest of the squad, and cut things down a bit to make sure theyre not caught on the ice at the tail end of Herculean shifts.

That hasnt been the case for the line of Bergeron, Recchi and Marchand, which has been so good for the Bruins this postseason.

Recchi and Bergeron should know the numbers headed into Game 4, and some of them can be pretty daunting.

According to the web site whowins.com, the lower-seeded teams up 2-1 in a series -- as Montreal is currently -- have advanced 60.5 percent of the time in the history NHL playoffs. But that numbers skyrockets to 87.8 percent of the time if the team goes up 3-1 in the series with a Game 4 victory.

If the series gets to 2-2 its pretty much 5050 which teams come out on top, and that means the Bruins have to like their odds if they can eke out another victory at a riotous Bell Centre lusting for a win.

Itll be tough without question, but the Bruins being led by Recchis head and Bergerons heart are in a pretty solid place to start.

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. 

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.