Bruins hit the road in search of edge


Bruins hit the road in search of edge

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins embark on a four-game road trip that starts Saturday night at the RBC Center against the Carolina Hurricanes, and their coach is looking for some improvement.

Not improvement on the bottom line because the Bs have taken back-to-back home victories over the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens after their loss to the Vancouver Canucks. But instead improvement in their execution and the crispness of their transition game after getting off to rather lethargic starts against both the Jets and the Habs.

The Bruins will face a couple of playoff caliber teams in the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers amid the four games, but theyll also travel to two of the worst Eastern Conference teams in the league this year. Only the New York Islanders have fewer points than the Tampa Bay Lightning and Hurricanes, and those two contests could give the Bruins a chance things going back in the right direction.

It will be Bostons first meeting against the downtrodden Lightning since Nathan Horton and his Bruins teammates ousted them in the Eastern Conference Finals last spring.

Its more about execution. I found that weve lost a little bit of our sharpness. Everything needs to be tape-to-tape passes and needs to have a little jump taking pucks to the net. We just need some sharpness to our game, said Claude Julien. Were lacking in all areas when it comes to sharpness. Weve taken a half-step back I would say, and we need to move forward on this road trip.

Thats essentially what its come to with the Bruins: theyre one point out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference and have piled up 25 wins since the Stanley Cup hangover officially ended on Nov. 1. But Julien is looking to push the Bs toward flawless execution and 60-minute consistency with things slackening during the dog days of January. Its quickly getting toward the portion of the NHL regular season schedule where fatigue can trump just about everything else. The Bs will get a special kind of endurance test after getting an easy home schedule over the first half of the season, and their coach is looking forward to the challenge.

You can never find the ideal place for improving team execution. If we were at home wed be asking them to do it at home. We happen to be on the road, so well ask them to do it on the road, said Julien. Its as simple as that. Its more about doing what we need to do.

The Bruins will certainly need to find their groove over the next four games, and theyll also get Brad Marchand back for the final road tilt against the Devils in Jersey. When the Bs finally get back to the Garden theyll find a red-hot Rangers club waiting for them to square off for Eastern Conference bragging rights. While everybody has talked about how hot the Bruins have been over the last three months the Blueshirts have been every bit as good while dealing with the Winter Classic hoopla.

Theres no need to look past the next four games toward their first meeting of the season against the Rangers, but theres every reason to get all their little issues straightened out before John Tortorellas crew rolls into town.

Bruins will play Blackhawks in 2019 NHL Winter Classic at Notre Dame


Bruins will play Blackhawks in 2019 NHL Winter Classic at Notre Dame

The Bruins will once again be taking things outdoors and participating in their third Winter Classic in franchise history, but for the first time they won’t be hosting the NHL’s centerpiece event. The B’s announced on Saturday afternoon that they’ll be facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2019 Winter Classic that will be played at iconic Notre Dame Stadium. Both the Bruins and Blackhawks aren’t exactly strangers to the outdoor showcase, and per usual the Black and Gold are happy to be part of a big deal event for the league.

“The Boston Bruins are excited to be playing in the 2019 Bridgestone Winter Classic against another storied Original Six franchise, the Chicago Blackhawks,” said Bruins President Cam Neely, in a press release. “The rich history of Notre Dame Stadium is well documented, and our team looks forward to playing at such an iconic venue. We hope that by participating in these large scale and unique NHL events we can bring Bruins fans new hockey experiences, and that we can use these opportunities to help grow our great game and attract new fans.”

There will be some natural storylines for the game including the rematch of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final participants, and a return to Notre Dame for Fighting Irish forward Anders Bjork after playing three seasons in South Bend. The Bruins/Blackhawks Winter Classic matchup was first reported by Barstool Sports almost two weeks ago, but it wasn’t until Saturday that any of the officials involved were ready to confirm the game.

The Bruins will be in their third Winter Classic after hosting the Jan. 1 outdoor game at Fenway Park in 2010 in an overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and at Gillette Stadium in 2016 in a blowout loss to the Montreal Canadiens.  It is a league-most fourth Winter Classic appearance for the Blackhawks, who hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in 2009, took on the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park in 2015, and most recently played the St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium in 2017.

Stevens: Celtics haven't played well enough to make streak 'valid'


Stevens: Celtics haven't played well enough to make streak 'valid'

You know who else - besides Charles Barkley - isn't impressed by the Celtics' 14-game winning streak?

Their coach. 


At the shootaround in Atlanta before the Celtics attempt to make it 15 in a row tonight against the Hawks, Brad Stevens told reporters, including ESPN's Chris Forsberg, that his team hasn't played well enough to make the streak "valid." 

“We haven’t played well enough to consider this win streak to be valid in my opinion,” Stevens said."We’ve figured out ways to win games. We gotta play a lot better.”

The Celtics have come back from double-digit deficits a number of times in the streak. Stevens said they're fortunate those rallies have kept the streak going.  

"We've got to be better, and we know that," Stevens said. "We can't get so caught up in the results of all these games and ride that emotion. We've been fortunate to win a lot of the games in this streak, including Thursday night [92-88 over the defending champion Golden State Warriors]. If we dig ourselves a 17-point hole every other game, it's not going to be as much fun as we've had recently."