Haggerty: Bruins need to go back to simple, basic mindset


Haggerty: Bruins need to go back to simple, basic mindset

WILMINGTON, Mass. A nice, fresh, four-day All-Star break was supposed to recharge the Boston Bruins' worn-down batteries.

Thats not exactly how it played out Tuesday night against Ottawa in the first game out of the break, however.

A healthy level of fatigue and road weariness were legit alibis for the team prior to the break, but that isnt a valid excuse after most of the players had just come back from five days off.

Coach Claude Julien said its time for his team to get to the heavy two-way game that was dominating opponents in November and December.

Were looking for reasons why our team is playing as well as it should be," said Julien. "I think its just a matter of working on our game thats slipped away. Were in a bit of a funk right now where our game isnt as good as it can be. Were trying to work out of it and pick up the pace of the game to where it should be.

"Defensively our game isnt very good right now. Were doing a lot of running around. It takes only one guy to start all of that and it throws everybody else off. We need to look at Thursday against Carolina as an opportunity to put the clocks on the right time again. Its the opportunity that we want to seize tomorrow.

The good news is that the Bruins are strong enough to still extract two points from lesser opponents when theyre struggling to fire on full cylinders. But the bad news is that its going to catch up with them if they keep dipping for long stretches throughout games.

On Tuesday night the Senators dominated the second period, outshooting the Bruins by a 13-6 margin. The Bruins have allowed 36 goals in their last 11 games, dating back to their Jan. 7 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, and are only 6-4-1 record over that span.

Its not us focusing on what theyre doing to us at all, said Gregory Campbell, who has centered a fourth line thats been alternately good and bad this year. Its moreso us focusing on our game and bringing to the table what we can. Things have slipped in here and thats no secret to anybody. Claude has been realistic with us. Were not playing up to the potential of what were capable of. Theyre done with their job as players

Its no secret. We just have to play the game like we did in the months of November and December, and we should be all good. There are ups and downs to every season, but a good team doesnt have to find an excuse.

Within that 11-game stretch have been playoff-worthy efforts against the Canucks, Flyers and Rangers, which showed exactly how good the Bs can be when the mood strikes them. But the dog days of the NHL season are clearly hitting all of the clubs, including Boston, and thats a hurdle the B's will have to overcome with some serious challenges awaiting them in the next few weeks.

Milan Lucic, who blasted his 17th goal of the season in Tuesday nights win, said the best thing the Bruins coaching staff could do is provide optimism and positive reinforcement when confidence isnt at an all-time high.

Weve got to take a positive frame of mind," said Lucic. "Weve got to start feeling positive, thinking positive, feeling confident about ourselves and trusting one another. I think thats one of the things that Claude said in intermission against the Senators. Weve just got to get back to thinking positive and not being frustrated more than anything.

Perhaps the best challenge is Carolina, which has had Bostons number all season. The 'Canes are 3-0 against the Bruins, who know that containing Eric Staal and attacking Cam Ward with heavy interior pressure are two of the biggest factors in stopping Carolina.

We really havent played well against them at all. Maybe if we did then Id feel something different, said Julien. Thats not to take anything away from them. Some teams tend to have confidence against other teams over the course of a season, and that appears to be the case with Carolina.

Whether its against the Hurricanes or the Sabres at home this week or during an 11-day trip later this month through Montreal, Winnipeg, St. Louis and Minnesota, among other NHL destinations the Bs have to start getting their stuff together again.

If not, then the mistakes will really begin to develop into a problem.

Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip


Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on it’s own feel, it’s own flavor and - eventually - it’s own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”