B's know they must again avoid lengthy losing streak

B's know they must again avoid lengthy losing streak

WILMINGTON – The Bruins are being challenged in the resiliency department for one of the final times in this NHL regular season.

The Black and Gold are coming off a demoralizing West Coast trip to California where they dropped all three games to San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles, and in doing so allowed both the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning to gain greater separation from Boston at the top of the Atlantic Division. The three-game losing streak late in the season also has some questioning whether the B’s will fall apart during the final nine games and miss the playoffs for a second straight season.

That might be a tad overdramatic, but it’s also understandable some of this team’s performances this year.

It’s true the Bruins offense has slowed down while producing a paltry nine goals over the last six games, and it’s also wholly apparent at this point the Sharks, Ducks and Kings are operating at a different, higher frequency than the B’s. But there’s something to be said for a Bruins team that’s risen above low expectations, and has managed to avoid losing more than three games in a row this season.

The Bruins will need to keep that string alive on Wednesday night when they travel to Madison Square Garden for an Original Six showdown with the New York Rangers, but Boston has shown that kind of resiliency all year.

Whether it’s the strong coaching job done by Claude Julien and his Bruins staff or the unbending, influential leadership of the proven veterans inside the Bruins dressing room, Boston has never allowed things to get too high or low 73 games into the season. So it stands to reason the B’s will again pull out of their current tailspin, particularly with the knowledge the most difficult part of Boston’s second half schedule is now in the rear view mirror and fading fast.  

“It’s consistency. We’ve been fairly consistent, and we haven’t had the big dips,” said Julien. “That’s also important, and hopefully we can end that [three game losing streak] tomorrow [against the Rangers]. It just reflects the kind of team we have as an overall thing. I think you can credit everybody for that.

“We’ve been good enough to manage our losses, I guess, and our wins. So we’re aware of where are right now. But it’s in the past, and right now we’re looking at we can do from here on in.”

They’ve never won more than five games in a row, but the Bruins also haven’t lost more than three games in a row despite some considerable weak spots within the Boston roster. The course correction has been remarkable for the Black and Gold whenever things start to wander a little bit off the tracks.  There’s no reason to think that will suddenly change for the worse with the Bruins holding a three point cushion over the Red Wings for the final playoff spot, and a late season home date against the Wings still yet to come.

“It starts with the leaders in the room, and the coaches obviously,” said Torey Krug. “We can realize what is going wrong with our game, and we’re able to correct those things and make sure that we demand that out of our guys in the next game. It just speaks volumes about how we correct things, and how we approach it.

“It’s nice knowing we’re able to bounce back, and we’re able to do that. We talk about how our team may be immature sometimes, but when you look at the veterans in this group they can really come together and say ‘Enough is enough. We really have to get the next one.’ When you’re able to avoid those peaks and valleys through the season then it puts you in a good position at the end of the year.”

That’s where the Bruins find themselves now with a few weeks left in the regular season: their fate is in their hands, and they’ve done enough good work already to make one believe there will be no repeat of last year’s late season implosion.

Now they’ll just need to prove it once again on Wednesday night against the Rangers, then 24 hours later on home against a Florida Panthers club the Bruins are furiously chasing in the Eastern Conference standings. 


Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues

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Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues

Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal of the game 30 seconds into overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

Schwartz skated up the middle and fired a shot past Anton Khudobin. The Blues won for the fifth time in six games to move within a point of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Jake Allen made 21 saves to improve to 24-21-2.

Ryan Donato scored for Boston. The Bruins clinched a playoff spot and moved within four points of Tampa Bay for the Eastern lead.

Schwartz tied it midway through the third period with a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

Donato scored his second goal in his second NHL game. He had a goal and two assists in a 5-4 loss to Columbus on Monday night.

Donato, still a student at Harvard University, returned to Massachusetts on Tuesday to attend class before flying back to St. Louis to rejoin the Bruins. His father, Ted, played 528 games in two stints with the Bruins (1992-99, 2003-04).

Donato, who played for the U.S. Olympic team last month, drilled a shot past Allen. A clearing attempt by Alex Piertrangelo hit referee Brad Watson and the pick bounced right to Donato.

Boston, which has a game in hand on Tampa Bay, joined Nashville and Tampa Bay as only teams to have clinched playoff spots.


Boston was without seven key players:- C Patrice Bergeron (fractured left foot), D Charlie McAvoy (left knee), D Zdeno Chara (upper body), LW Jake DeBrusk (upper body), RW David Backes (right leg laceration), D Torey Krug (upper body) and LW Rick Nash (upper body). They have combined for 101 goals and 161 assists.

NOTES:- St. Louis RW Vladimir Tarasenko missed his second successive game after taking an elbow to the face against the New York Rangers on Saturday. ... The Bruins have least one point in 12 of their last 15 games against St. Louis. ... Only three Boston players - RW David Pastrnak, C Tim Schaller and C Sean Kuraly - have played in every game this season.


Bruins: At Dallas on Friday night in the second game of a four-game trip.

Blues: Host Vancouver on Friday night.

Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

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Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

The Bruins have managed to take three of a possible six points since Zdeno Chara went down in the third period of last week's comeback win over the Carolina Hurricanes, and they've done it completely without their top pairing since Charlie McAvoy has also been out all this time.

There are a number of factors behind the ability to withstand the injuries, of course, and the entire defense corps was stellar at both ends in the shutout win over Tampa Bay last weekend.


But it's Torey Krug who's really stepped up his game. He had three assists and 15 shots on net in those three games, and was immense in the win over the Lightning.

Krug has surpassed the 50-point plateau for the second straight season, a major accomplishment for a defenseman who prides himself on his puck-moving and power-play work.

"You know, he has [stepped up]," coach Bruce Cassidy said of Krug, adding: "Torey is always going to get his numbers, but he's really added to it 5-on-5 . . . [It] was comforting to see that [without Chara and McAvoy] we shut out one of the best teams [in the NHL], at home, that was rested. You've got to take something out of that. It was one of 82 [games], but that was a real positive for our guys."

For Krug, the challenge of stepping up and being a leader in the team's time of need is the kind of thing he takes pride in responding to with an elevated level of play.

"I'm in the business of winning hockey games and helping my team win," said Krug. "It falls on my shoulders to produce some offense from the back end. And [when] we're missing a couple of guys from the back end that do that push the pace, then you've got to step up and make some plays. When you play with a lot of great players then you'll get your points, and you just need to worry about the defensive zone first.

"We're confident in everybody in this room. A lot of people think that the guys on our back end can't get the job done, so for us to step up [is a good thing]."


The biggest sign of Krug's increased responsibility? He topped 26 minutes of ice time in two of the three games since Chara was injured. Only once before, when he was on the ice for 27-plus minutes against the Rangers in early November, has he played more than that.

The loss of Chara and McAvoy has forced Krug to go above and beyond his normal range of duties and he's stepped up and embraced it. That's what good players on good teams do, and it's something Krug has consistently done in the big moments since arriving in Boston five years ago.