Bruins ready for 'measuring stick' vs. Canucks

Bruins ready for 'measuring stick' vs. Canucks

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com
VANCOUVER The Bruins are finally at Rogers Arena to take on the Vancouver Canucks for their measuring stick game with all of their newly comprised pieces, and see how they stack up against the class of the Western Conference.The Canucks lead the entire NHL with 87 points through 62 games, and have risen to the top out West.The Bruins are 4-7-2 this season against the Western Conference teams and have struggled through the first few months, but it was a different more determined Bs bunch that took the ice earlier this week against the Calgary Flames. Conversely, the Canucks are 10-4-2 against the Eastern Conference this year, so clearly something has to give.The Bruins are hoping that same Black and Gold squad comes out to play against the Canucks on Saturday night.I thought we played a solid game against Calgary. Thats important on the road: a solid game, said Claude Julien. Defensively we were very good and offensively we capitalized on some plays when we had opportunities, and we made some good plays that way.You watch the Canucks play on TV and see how well theyre doing. The fact that you get a chance to measure yourself up against a team right now thats first is a good opportunity to seize. Its going to be a good game, a good challenge and after the game you have a pretty good idea of where you stand.Brad Marchand went through morning skate without a problem at Rogers Arena, and looked 100 percent fine for tonights game against Vancouver after taking a shot off the leg.
His leg seemed okay. I wasnt sure about his hands this morning, said Julien. I asked him that this morning: did you hurt your leg, or your hands? Hes totally fine and ready to go.Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice and looks like hell be getting the start against the Canucks. Thomas is 12-4-3 in his last 19 starts and was one third period goal away from notching a career-best eighth shutout of the season against the Flames. Roberto Luongo was the first goalie off the ice for the Canucks and is having a solid season in Vancouver, though his last win came all the way back on Feb. 19 against the Dallas Stars.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Julien reaches breaking point with struggling, inconsistent Bruins

Julien reaches breaking point with struggling, inconsistent Bruins

It sounds like Claude Julien has reached a breaking point with a fragile, inconsistent group of Bruins players who have lost four games in a row at a critical point in the season.

The Bruins dropped a 5-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday afternoon, and completely fell apart in the final period after Tuukka Rask was lifted because of migraine issues in the middle of the game. It was a typical Bruins effort, in which there weren’t enough scoring chances despite 45 shots on net -- largely from the perimeter -- and the defense totally unraveled in the third period once the Penguins got their offense going.

After the loss, the embattled Julien challenged his players, saying they weren’t providing enough across the board . . . which has largely been the case for the last two months as the Bruins have stagnated as a team.

“If you look at some of the mistakes we made, it’s a team that just got unraveled there in the third period,” he told reporters after the game. “With the opportunities that we had, we don’t capitalize on them. You always give the goaltender on the other side some (Matt Murray) credit. He was good tonight but at the same time, if you’re going to win hockey games, you’ve got to find ways to get [shots] through to him.

"It’s frustrating. There are a lot of guys that, right now, aren’t giving us enough, and this is a team that I think needs all 20 guys going in order to win. We don’t have enough talent to think that we can get away with a mediocre game, so this is where it’s important for our guys to understand that and it’s important to have 20 guys that want to go. It’s okay to have talent, but you’ve got to compete. For others, you’ve got to get involved. You’ve got to be willing to do the things that are not fun to do but are going to help your hockey club. It’s too bad because I think the players we expect a lot out of every night are certainly battling every night, but we need more than that . . .

“When you’ve lost three, now four in a row, it sets in. We’ve got to find a way to turn this around and start going back to the drawing board with our guys respecting what they need to do and be patient enough to give it time to turn around. When I say patience I don’t mean we need to do it in the next week. We need to do it next game but we need to respect what we’ve done well and when we’re in our game and within our structure we’ve had success but in order to be within the structure, you’ve got to be willing to want to do those things. Right now, we don’t have everybody and it just takes one guy not to want to do his job and it throws everybody else off. We have to look at personnel that way, and say that if we need to replace some guys, and we need to be patient with others, I want guys that care and want guys that want to come in and give it their all every night. We need more of that, and we don’t have enough right now.”

It remains to be seen what, or who, Julien is referring to when he mentioned personnel during his postgame comments, but it’s clear he's well aware the effort hasn’t been consistently good enough over the last two months.
 
The Bruins have dropped to third in the Atlantic Division, with the Maple Leafs just a point behind them while holding a whopping six games in hand. Even struggling teams like the Panthers, Lightning and Hurricanes have caught up to the B’s in the playoff race, while holding games in hand.

The B’s are in big, big trouble at this point in the season, and it doesn’t get any easier with games against an improving Red Wings club and the dominant Penguins prior to a much-needed break recess for the All-Star break.