Healing Bruins ready to pick up the pace


Healing Bruins ready to pick up the pace

BRIGHTON -- Given the spaced-out schedule and the preponderance of non-playoff opponents they were facing, the Bruins' 3-3-1 record at this stage of October would seem to represent missed opportunity.

But, in actuality, we may remember it more as a blessing.

The Bruins were swamped by a massive wave of injuries in the first weeks of the season, and a lull in the schedule may prove to be the best time to absorb it. Even with Tuukka Rask and Kevan Miller cleared to play for tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks, they’re still missing David Krejci, Noel Acciari, Ryan Spooner and Adam McQuaid. Nor do they have Patrice Bergeron, David Backes or Torey Krug at full strength, even though they're more-than-welcomed returnees to the lineup.

So there's still some time that needs to pass, and healing that needs to be done, before the Bruins will be anywhere close to 100 percent.  

But in spite of all that, the B’s are looking forward to things picking up with their schedule.

After playing 10 games during the entire month of October, the Bruins will ramp it up with 9 games in 16 days at the start of November. They’ll ease into that stretch with three games in five days to close out October after a lot of practice time in the last couple of weeks.

It’s a rare thing  for an NHL head coach to eschew extra practice time, but Bruce Cassidy openly wished his team could have played Wednesday rather than tonight. Too much practice can dull the sharpened edges of game action or suck the emotion out of things for the players, and that’s not a good thing.

“It would have been nice to play [on Wednesday] after we’d dealt with our issues at practice as far as defending the slot are and working back to put our fires so to speak,” said Cassidy. “Last week it was a puck-support issue, and I thought we did a much better job against Vancouver and Buffalo with that, and it showed on the score sheet offensively.

“But I think we need to play some games to better evaluate our group as well. It’s just a more enjoyable process for the guys, as well. Last year it was one of those things at the beginning of last year where it was too much, and the schedule was crazy. We’d like to get back at it.”

After playing a grand total of 3 games over the last 10 days and 6 over the last 16, the Bruins will not only pick up the pace but they'll also start facing more conference foes. After a West-heavy start to the schedule, the Bruins will play traditional Eastern opponents like the Blue Jackets, Rangers, Capitals and Maple Leafs. And they hope all this  will finally get them into the rhythm of the season after an uneven start.

One might think the Bruins will take all the off days they can to heal and regroup. But that would be wrong according to the B’s players.

“I think this is going to help us, actually,” said Backes. “You get into a rhythm and you get into a routine, and you remember that feeling when it was just 36 or 48 hours prior to the next game. You’re able to cultivate that -- whether it was a good or a bad one -- into the next game, and either change it or not. Now it’s been four days with three days of practice, and those feelings aren’t as recent or as familiar. It’s not fresh in our minds.

“We’ve come out well [in the games], but I think playing every day is going to be very good for this group. We can stop some of the monotony of practice and play for keeps every other day. That’s going to be really good.”

The monotony ends when the puck is dropped tonight. And the Bruins hope that'll be reflected in on-ice results once they get into the true rhythm of the regular season.

Bruins crush the Habs for third time in eight days


Bruins crush the Habs for third time in eight days

MONTREAL – The Bruins had a chance to utilize their killer instinct and truly bury the Habs’ playoff hopes on Saturday night.

That’s exactly what they did with two goals from David Pastrnak in a strong, intense game where the Bruins ended up with a 4-1 win at the Bell Centre, and swept Montreal in all three meetings that the two arch-rivals had over the last eight days.

The Canadiens actually opened up the scoring midway through the second period when Paul Byron picked Charlie McAvoy’s pocket in the neutral zone, and created a 2-on-1 that Max Pacioretty finished high on Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins stormed right back, though, and a leaky Carey Price goal took all of the momentum away from Les Habitants. David Pastrnak threw a puck at the skates of Price from a bad angle, and somehow it squirted through Price’s pads to give Boston the game-tying goal.

Less than two minutes later after a lengthy shift for the Perfection Line (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak) in the Habs zone, Torey Krug rifled a sniper shot over Price’s shoulder to the short side.

The Bruins appeared to have their insurance goal in the third period when Bergeron shoveled one in on the power play after Pastrnak snapped his stick on a point shot, but Claude Julien challenged that the play was off-side. It was a good challenge with Bergeron crossing the line before the puck was in the zone, and that kept it at a tight one-goal game for nearly the entire duration of the third period.

Pastrnak cinched with the insurance goal late in the third as he cleaned up a rebound of a Torey Krug point shot, and fired the loose puck past Price for the insurance marker.

Riley Nash added the empty net goal while Bruins were mockingly singing “Ole” in the stands at the Bell Centre with the game well in hand.  


There will be extra satisfaction if Bruins can help put a nail in Habs coffin


There will be extra satisfaction if Bruins can help put a nail in Habs coffin

MONTREAL – It’s not often the Boston Bruins get a chance to literally deal the death blow to their arch-rival Montreal Canadiens.

But that’s really where the B’s stand on Saturday as they visit the Bell Centre for a third meeting in eight days against the hated Habs after winning each of the first two rivalry match-ups. The Canadiens are nine points out of a wild card playoff spot with four teams ahead of them, and sit 11 points out of an Atlantic Division playoff spot more than halfway through their season.

It would take an epic hot streak like the one engineered by Andrew “Hamburglar” Hammond and the Ottawa Senators three seasons ago for Montreal to simply get into the postseason. It would also require the Canadiens to actually start winning divisional games like the one facing them on Saturday night against Boston. So the Bruins know they could plunge the dagger into the Habs by sweeping the third game this weekend, and they’re taking just a little bit of pleasure at the position they’re in while on an 11-0-4 run in their last 15 games.

“We’re aware of the standings. We know that we want to keep climbing up and trying to catch up to Tampa. That being said, you look at Montreal and whichever teams that are behind you and you want to push them down,” said Patrice Bergeron. “When you face them it’s big games for them, and it’s the same for us. It will be a big battle. They had a big win last night and are feeling good about their game, so we need to make sure that we’re ready.”

They’ll take even more please out of it if they leave Montreal tonight with two points secured in their column while pushing the Habs deeper into their tailspin.

“I don’t think we’re going into the game talking about that, but if works out that way at 10:30 when we’re getting ready to get on a plane out of town…I think there would be a little extra satisfaction,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I think some of our young kids are still getting a taste of it. Last Saturday [Jake] DeBrusk and Charlie [McAvoy] got an idea of how loud it is in here, and how passionate [the fans are].

“But at the end of the day we play 82 times a year, and this one of them to get two points and keep climbing up in the standings.”

While the Bruins are rested and ready after getting a full day off on Friday, the Habs were battling until the final buzzer in Washington on Fridaynight to eke out a win against the Capitals. It was a nice win for the Habs after the embarrassment of dropping a stink bomb in Boston on Wednesday night, but it also should leave them as fatigued, easy pickings if the Black and Gold come armed with their killer instinct on Saturday.

“They know [the importance of the game] on the other side. I expect a desperate effort tonight from them, and giving it their all in front of their home fans,” said Bruins rookie winger Jake DeBrusk. “It’s a four point game and it’s against Montreal, and we got the first two [games]. It would be nice to get the third one here, but we just want to keep things going. It doesn’t really matter who we play except for games like this. We just need to keep our head on straight and play the way we can play.”

It’s true the Bruins/Habs rivalry loses a little juice when one of the teams is really down as Montreal is this season, and the real revenge factor for Boston was getting a decisive win in former coach Claude Julien’s return to Boston in mid-week. But there’s little doubting that having been the one kicked around so many times in the long, storied history of the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry, any chance for Boston to really put a hurting on Montreal still means a little something to those in Black and Gold.