Tightening up the discipline a big key for Bruins


Tightening up the discipline a big key for Bruins

WILMINGTON, Mass. While the Washington Capitals power play has largely struggled over the last two seasons, the Bruins know theres an element of Fools Gold to ranking 18thin the NHL with a 16.7 percent success rate.

Bring Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Dennis Wideman and Mike Green to the playoff party among others, and Washington can be dangerous and deadly on the man advantage.

So the Bruins know that gritty penalty kill work and hard-edged discipline are going to be in full order starting Thursday night for Game 1 at TD Garden. Of course the Bruins would love to make Jason Chimera pay for the charging hit on Adam McQuaid two weeks ago that has their rugged defenseman sitting out as the postseason gets started.

There will be moments when the Bruins would like nothing better than to smash blue collar players like Matt Hendricks or Troy Brouwer in the face, but thats not what happens to good teams during the playoffs.

Instead championship teams turn the other cheek, avoid giving opponents the power play, take a number and worry about it somewhere down the dusty hockey trail.

I dont necessarily always look at numbers for the power play. Look at Buffalothey didnt have a very good power play numbers-wise, but against us they were very potent, said Claude Julien. There has to be an element of respect there for the guys on the power play especially with Nicklas Backstrom being back as a very good playmaker. That will certainly help.

But they have the shooters: Wideman, Green, Semin and Ovechkin. They have a lot of guys that can shoot the puck on that unit. The experience we went through last year and other years goes to show you how important it is to be disciplined. Good penalty you will kill and bad penalties will end up costing you.

Brad Marchand will never been known as a dean of discipline, but he knows consequences come with reckless actions in the postseason.

Only the Flyers and Senators had more penalties than the Bruins (1,103 PIM with 13.45 PIM per game) this year during the regular season, and that will need to change for the better with the postseason upon them.

We know where the line is, and that we have to play within those lines once the playoffs get started. Playing undisciplined hockey and taking bad penalties can lead to giving up power play goals in the postseason, and you cant have that, said Marchand. If Im playing out of control or taking bad penalties Claude Julien should take me out of the game until I snap back between the lines. You cant afford to make those kinds of mistakes right now.

Dont mistake discipline for frailty or timidity, however. The Bruins are a heavy, bruising, bullying hockey team and that manifests itself into punishing body checks and intimidation before and after every whistle. With Marchand, Milan Lucic and Shawn Thornton on one side and Alex Ovechkin, Brouwer, Chimera and Brooks Laich on the other, there will be plenty of smash-mouth hockey to go around.

For us to have success we have to do everything we can to be successful and thats one of the things that will make this series exciting: both teams want to be physical, said Lucic. Part of our identity and our success is being physical no matter who we play. We have a game plan and we have a type of way were going to play. Being physical is one of those ways. Were going to establish a forecheck and being physical allows us to do that.

The big question now is whether the Capitals will go over the edge guided by one of the NHLs foremost cheap shot artists of his generation, Dale Hunter. Will the Caps coach order a code red or two by the time a potential seven games series has concluded with Boston?Even the Bruins are a little curious about that one.

Playing under Dale Hunter Im sure theyll be a little physical, and theyll have some forwards that will get in there and get dirty, said Milan Lucic. Ovechkin isnt scared of the physical play and he likes to use the body. Its a way that they have success.

But then again the Bs will gladly take the power plays and walk on the right side of the discipline line in the first round if Washington lets them.

Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win


Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins all kinds of energy out of the starting gate, and made a couple of plays that allowed his team to hold a lead despite getting outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. DeBrusk went hard to the net splitting a couple of San Jose defenders on the first goal, and fired a shot on net that created a rebound for Peter Cehlarik to cash in on. Then DeBrusk scored a little bit later on a rush where he beat Brent Burns in a foot race to a loose puck, then whistled a wrist shot past Aaron Dell for his fourth goal of the season. DeBrusk finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net while falling just short of 16 minutes of ice time in the victory. It was a strong effort from DeBrusk shortly after being a healthy scratch, and showed what he’s capable of when he gets his skating legs going.

BLACK EYE: Brent Burns was a complete mess for the Sharks. He was burnt by Jake DeBrusk in each of the first two Bruins goals in the first period with the B’s rookie going right at him with the attack. He also didn’t make it to the net with 12 of the 16 shots that he attempted and Burns finished with seven giveaways as well. It’s been a rough follow-up season for Burns after last year’s Norris Trophy season where he’s tried to do too much for the Sharks, and his game has suffered as a result. That seemed to be the case for Burns against the Bruins as well where his mistakes played a big role in the Sharks dropping the game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins won the game when they managed to survive an opening 20 minutes where they were outshot 17-5, and even better they had a 2-1 lead based on some offensive fireworks from Jake DeBrusk. They were also aided by a couple of video reviews where the Bruins took a San Jose goal off the board when it was ruled that a crashing Joonas Donskoi punched a puck into the net with his glove. The Peter Cehlarik goal was also upheld at the other end after a challenge from the San Jose bench. It looked like DeBrusk was tripped before he partially crashed into Aaron Dell that set up the Cehlarik goal, and that’s clearly how the referees saw it after reviewing the play.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Anton Khudobin, who stopped 36-of-37 shots and improved to 5-0-2 on the season with another strong win aided by a stalwart defensive effort in front of him. Khudobin now has 12 of the 20 points that the Bruins have amassed on the season, and he absolutely rewarded the B’s for opting to go with the Bruins backup for a second game in a row as they ride the hot goaltender. Khudobin was helped by a number of Bruins blocked shots in the third period when the game was still very tight, but it was also about Khudobin coming up with 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were getting outplayed by the Sharks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of Bruins rookies that have scored their first NHL goals this season, including Peter Cehlarik finally getting his first NHL score Saturday night in his 14th career game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We need them. They’re in the lineup and they’re playing significant minutes. We need them to produce for us. Tonight we needed some offense early, and they provided it for us.” – Bruce Cassidy, on the role of the rookies in the win where it was all first-year players Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen doing the scoring vs. San Jose. 

Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1


Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Anton Khudobin enjoyed getting pestered with shots early. He didn't have time to let his mind wander.

Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

"I like it busy," Khudobin said. "I don't have to think about anything else. The third-period start was unbelievable . . . I don't think I faced a shot until halfway through the period."

Peter CehlarikJake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

"It went our way," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They were clearly better than us but we come out 2-1 (in the three games on West Coast). If you stick with it, good things happen."

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

"Guys in this room can score; we just have to do it," Sharks Logan Couture said. "I thought we had good chances and a lot of them at the end. We've got to create offense. If you don't score goals, you're not going to win."

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

"I just kind of fished it out and wanted to bring it to the net," O'Regan said. "Timo made a nice finish."

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk, one of three rookies who scored, chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

"It's massive," DeBrusk said. "We all want it so bad and we all work so hard. These are big games for us."

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

"He made a heck of a play," Heinen said. "I just put my stick on the ice."

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

"We got enough looks tonight to score," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We're doing more good than bad we're just not being rewarded."

NOTES: O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.


Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.