Bruins

Changing on the Fly: Help wanted for B's offense

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Changing on the Fly: Help wanted for B's offense

So whats at the top of the list for Bruins wants, needs and improvements as they ready for golfing season way too soon?

The single-biggest breakdown during the seven-game loss to the Washington Capitals was the offensive department. There wasnt enough finish when it mattered most and there werent enough offensive chances of the quality variety.

It was an eye-opening for a hockey club that thrived through the regular season.

The Bruins went from being the only team in the NHL with six 20-goal scorers on the NHLs second-best offense at 3.17 goals per game during the regular season to a gang that couldnt shoot straight once the playoffs began.

They dropped down an entire goal-per-game in the postseason, and a host of those 20-plus goal-scorers (Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Brad Marchand . . . were looking at you) couldnt even get a sniff.

We obviously didnt score a lot of goals, and you know coming from a team during the regular season that scored. We certainly had a lot of goals. A lot of them were in the front end of the year, but we certainly have the talent skill to score so credit to Washington, said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, who will be making the changes necessary this summer. I think defensively we had a good series. I think offensively, we didnt score at the time we had to score and I think that we could have. So I think thats an area well have to improve, I will improve that well figure out as the summer goes on.

Some of our guys didnt perform as we expected. We all have seen Looch do wonderful things with Krejci and statistically they didnt . . . but no one really did. Theyre two really good players and you want more from them. But theyre two really good players and theyve given us some really good things. So well delve into that and see where it takes us.

So what do the Bruins do from here?

It isnt the Achilles-sized weakness the Bruins experienced the season following the dismissal of Phil Kessel to Toronto, but it was an issue that cropped up when the season was at its most paramount.

Nathan Hortons injury was clearly a factor, and the Bruins never truly got back into their proper offensive state of being once he was removed. Rich Peverley is ideally a third line player that gives the Bruins incredible depth as he did during Bostons Stanley Cup run, but he was filling in for the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Horton on a line with Krejci and Lucic.

So good health will help the Black and Gold on some level, but what are the bolder and more likely solutions?

There are a couple of things: first hope that wunderkind Tyler Seguin turns into the 35-40 goal sniper theyre eternally in search of after jumping to 29 goals as a sophomore in the league. The 20-year-old has all the goods, but still has to prove he can snake through the toughest team defenses and solve the greatest goaltenders in the world. He started to show it toward the end of the playoff run, but it was too little, too late.

In the end you want to get production. Im sure there are lots of guys that feel that way on this team, said Seguin. Now having a first round of the playoffs under my belt I can take that into my future and my career.

Bruins demoralize Habs in three game set

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Bruins demoralize Habs in three game set

MONTREAL – The Boston Bruins weren’t about to dance on any Montreal Canadiens’ graves after it was over and done with, but they effectively closed the door on any flickering playoff hopes for the Habs this week. It all ended with Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre that finished off the sweep of all three meetings between the two arch-rivals over an eight day span, and with the reeling Montreal a stunning 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

It was a close game nearly all the way through in Montreal until David Pastrnak and Riley Nash scored in the final few minutes of the third period, but the Bruins outscored the Habs by an 11-5 margin while clearly establishing they were the better team in all three contests. It all makes sense given the opposite directions that the two hockey clubs are headed at this point in the season, and because of that the Bruins were playing it pretty cool after burying the Habs.

“It was kind of a crazy week because we were playing them three times, so we obviously wanted to play good hockey,” said Tuukka Rask, who won all three games vs. the Habs while improving his lifetime record vs. the Habs to 10-15-3 in the process. “[We wanted to] get as many points as possible, and won all of those games along with the one on Long Island. So it was a great week for us.”

Certainly it seemed like there was more genuine emotion from the Bruins in Claude Julien’s return to Boston midweek, and perhaps a little more adrenaline in last weekend’s first game at the Bell Centre where rookies like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Danton Heinen were dipping their toes into the storied rivalry for the first time.

But on this Saturday night it was more about a complete dismantling of the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge even as the Bruins initially fell down by a goal after a bad McAvoy turnover. Instead it was Boston’s Perfection Line that went to work with an efficient, dominant performance as David Pastrnak scored the game’s first goal and insurance third goal in the third period. They also accounted for the game-winner when Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak hemmed Montreal’s fourth line in the defensive zone, and Torey Krug eventually stepped up and rifled one short side on Carey Price.

Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak combined for two goals, six assists and a plus-8 in the resounding victory over the Habs, and had a dominant 12 of Boston’s 31 shots on net when the final horn had sounded. They simply overwhelmed Montreal with their depth, the high end quality of their lineup and the fact that Boston was rested while the Habs had to play in Washington DC on Friday night in a three games in four days stretch.

All of that allowed the Bruins to drive the final nail into Montreal’s coffin when the game was over, and it furthermore allowed Boston to keep worrying about the teams they’re trying to catch (ahem…Tampa Bay Lightning) rather than Eastern Conference bottom-feeders like the Canadiens.

“We talked about doing the job against them and finding a ways to push teams down while gaining ground on the teams above us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought it was a great effort again. We knew that they would be ready for us, but we also knew that they had played last night. So maybe if we had a good start we could jump on them. I thought we had a good game.”

Clearly there have been ebbs and flows to the Bruins/Habs rivalry over their long history together, and both Boston and Montreal have been in the catbird at different times even in the recent editions of their history. But right now Boston is beating the Canadiens badly at their own skill and speed game and dominating thing with pure hockey rather than bullying, and that’s got to sting for a Habs group that simply couldn’t compete with the Bruins in three different chances to do so this week. 

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David Pastrnak dominates third straight win against Canadiens

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David Pastrnak dominates third straight win against Canadiens

GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak had been a little quiet offensively, but that all changed on Saturday night against Montreal. It was the 21-year-old that answered with a bad angle goal in the second period after Montreal had taken the first lead in the game, and it was Pastrnak again in the third period crashing the net and scoring his second goal to finally give Boston the breathing room that they needed. Pastrnak thoroughly dominated the game, scored two goals and three points along with a plus-3 rating, and led all players with a game-high eight shots on net while playing with energy and intensity in all three zones. It is nights like Saturday night in Montreal when you see just how good Pastrnak could still be a few years down the road.

BLACK EYE: Carey Price wasn’t terrible in the game, but he gave up the wrong goal at the wrong time to the Bruins in the second period. David Pastrnak surprised him with a bad angle shot by the goal line aimed at his skates, and Price couldn’t recover quickly enough to keep the puck from squirting into the net for the game-tying goal. Given how much better the Bruins are than the Canadiens this season, Price was going to be have to letter-perfect in order to beat the Black and Gold. Instead he gave up a bad goal just minutes after Montreal had finally scored, and completely sucked all of the momentum out of the Habs. A few minutes later Torey Krug beat Carey Price with a sniped shot for the go-ahead goal and that was it for the night. In all Price allowed three goals on 30 shots and had one of his weaker games against the Bruins in recent memory.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins appeared to score the insurance goal in the third period when Patrice Bergeron jumped on the rebound of a shot attempt where David Pastrnak’s stick had shattered on the initial shot. But a coach’s challenge ruled that the play was off-sides and the goal was overturned leaving it at a one-goal game in the third period. Montreal was given second life to scratch for one goal to at least push things in overtime, but instead that line was at it again and Pastrnak scored on a rebound in front directly from a Torey Krug point shot. That was the goal that officially broke Montreal’s spirit and allowed the Bruins to sweep all three games over the Habs in an eight day span.

HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug hasn’t exactly been a scoring machine lately, but he stepped up and had one of his best games against Montreal on Saturday. It was Krug that ended up with the game-winning goal on a sniper shot over Price’s shoulder in the second period when he jumped into the play with the Perfection Line dominating, and it was Krug that finished with a goal, three points and a plus-three rating in 17:24 of ice time. He finished with five shot attempts, a hit and a blocked shot as well, and was truly making things happen offensively as he did with a point shot in the third period that turned into a Pastrnak rebound goal for the insurance marker.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25 – the number of goals for the Perfection Line (Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak) over the 16-game point streak that the Bruins have been riding on for over a month.

QUOTE TO NOTE:  “I think at the end of the day if I knew that I would have to face them now, I probably would’ve kept them separate for all those years.” –A joking Claude Julien when asked postgame what it feels like to have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand doing so much damage against his new team during the three games played in eight days. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE