Bruins get their third-period groove back


Bruins get their third-period groove back

NEWARK The third-period letdowns were the first sign that the recent road trip through the NHL sunshine belt didnt represent the real Bruins.
The B's dropped two of the first three games and were outscored 6-2 in the final period, which has been winning time for the Black and Gold this year. They looked tired and resigned to their fate while dropping games to the Hurricanes and Lightning.
But all that changed after Andrew Ference rattled home a howitzer from the left point minutes into the third period against the New Jersey Devils Thursday night. It was the first of four consecutive goals in a 4-1 win at the Prudential Center.
We had competed a lot harder in the first two periods than we had in a while, but I thought we needed more shots and opportunities in the third period, said coach Claude Julien. The Devils were making it hard on us, but once we got that Ference goal in the third period, breakouts were cleaner and things seemed to be a lot better.
Our execution was better, we got our second wind and that goal really lifted us.
Was it case of enough is enough after the emotionally skimpy first 40 minutes against New Jersey?
A little bit . . . we were also trying not to get frustrated and start pointing fingers, said Shawn Thornton, whose line accounted for two of the goals. We werent getting the calls, but sometimes you need to play through that stuff and do it together. Its in this room. You cant put it on anybody else.
I think that was the biggest thing: Going out and playing our game as a team without getting frustrated. We wanted to try and put a good 20 together. We knew that we had a chance if we could do that, and we did.
The Bruins are still outscoring opponents 67-30 in the final period this season, and it speaks volumes about the teams depth that it immediately reverts back to form when its whole forward lineup is intact.
The Red Wings rank as the only team higher than the Bs plus-37 goal differential over the final 20 minutes, but it appears its only a matter of time before it's the Bruins' domain again now that they have their third-period groove back.

Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home


Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' actual 2-3-0 won-loss record isn’t particularly terrible, especially when you consider they were without Patrice Bergeron and David Backes.

But they've been wildly inconsistent within those first five games, playing a couple of very good games against the Predators and Coyotes while suffering three ugly, non-competitive losses to Colorado and Vegas. The Bruins are 20th in goals scored (2.8 goals per game) and 22nd in goals allowed (3.6), and their special teams have been average at best in a soft part of the schedule that should have allowed them to get off to a good start.

The Bruins have looked sloppy much of the time with chaotic breakouts, far too many breakdowns in defensive coverage, and goaltending has been average at best.

As a result they're scuffling in the Atlantic Division as the Lightning and Maple Leafs have sprinted out to strong starts. Clearly it’s still early -- nearly the entire season is in front of them -- but there’s also no illusion about the need for a quick turnaround in what’s going to be a competitive division.

That's why the next four games, all at TD Garden, are so important.

“We’ve been inconsistent in our game. We’ve been good and we’ve been not good, so hopefully being home will allow us to get back into form,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “We knew going in with a youth movement that we’d had some ups and downs. We’ve had both. We’ve had some really strong games and we’ve had some other games where there’s a learning curve.

“As good as [our] prospects are, it falls on the core group to be solid and consistent every night. Then you lose a bit of your core group [to injuries] and you need your support players that aren’t your core group -- but aren’t kids, either -- to contribute. So we’re battling through all of that, and it’s up to us to put in a game plan that gets us through it. We haven’t achieved the level we’d like. We aren’t hiding behind that. We’d like to be better than we are right now, and we’re facing it head on every day.”

Clearly there are plenty of players in the “support player” category referenced by Cassidy who haven’t performed to date, and that also explains some of the Bruins consistency issues. Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Riley Nash have a combined two assists and a combined minus-5 rating through those first five games, and are among the players that need to step up and perform if the Bruins are going to start achieving the consistency that Cassidy is actively seeking right now.