Bruins looking to 'get over that hurdle' vs Capitals team that's dominated them

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Bruins looking to 'get over that hurdle' vs Capitals team that's dominated them

BRIGHTON – The Bruins were doing a pretty good job of making it seem like Thursday night’s game against the Washington Capitals will be business as usual.

But it will be anything but that after getting shellacked by the Capitals in Washington on NHL’s opening night, which continued a string of dominance for the Caps over the Bruins dating back for years. The Capitals are 10-0-3 in their last 13 games against the Bruins while pushing and shoving the Bruins all over the ice during those games, and if it isn’t their brute force or deadly scoring then it’s been Braden Holtby dominating them between the pipes.

“It’s more about that this team has had our number for the last number of years, and we need to get over that hurdle,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’ve got to get over the hurdle. They’re the Stanley Cup champions, and if you want to be the best then you’ve got to beat the best. I know it’s a long season, but we’re playing good hockey and I’d like to think our guys are going to be confident going into the game. Not thinking about what happened opening night or over the years, but still have a bit of an ‘Enough is enough’ type of attitude as well. You just don’t want to overthink and go ‘Here we go again’ if the first 10 minutes don’t go your way.”

The Capitals have beaten the Bruins in pretty much every way you can beat a hockey team in recent years, but the Bruins have also won five games in a row with a healthy lineup that’s just starting to click on all cylinders.

“We’re feeling good right now and feeling good going into this game,” said David Pastrnak. “Obviously we’ve had a tough time the last few years against this team, so we’ll try to stick to our plan and play the same way that we did the last couple of games.”

It’s in the B’s heads enough that they’re going to switch things up in goal and start Jaroslav Halak rather than Tuukka Rask to maybe change their luck, and the Bruins are going to try and pretend like it’s just another game.

Good luck with that against a Capitals team that’s treated the Bruins like the 98-pound weakling over the better part of the last five seasons.

“I think it’s the next one on our schedule so it’s got to be all hands on deck and all synapses firing to try to beat this Capitals team that obviously won the Cup last year,” said David Backes of the Capitals, who smoked the Bruins by a 7-0 score in that opening night debacle in DC. “They took it to us on opening night when they raised their banner, so now it’s time we turn the tide and get the best of them, especially at home. With our lineup playing the way it is and not missing many people, this is going to be a good test for us.”

In fact, the rest of the week is going to be a good test for the Black and Gold with the defending Stanley Cup champs on Thursday night, and then the final divisional showdown of the season with the Maple Leafs set for this weekend. The B’s should have a much better idea of where they stand within the Eastern Conference power structure after weaving through the Capitals and Maple Leafs over the next couple of days. 

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Bruce Cassidy says Bruins need to be 'better defensively' to snap losing streak

Bruce Cassidy says Bruins need to be 'better defensively' to snap losing streak

TORONTO — The Bruins aren’t necessarily going to change anything with their offensive philosophies based on the major amount of injuries that have hit their roster over the last few weeks. But the influx of Providence players combined with the offensive firepower of Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk missing for the lineup has taken a toll on Boston’s goal-scoring capabilities, and that can hurt when the Bruins defense has allowed 15 goals (3.75 goals per game) over their current four-game losing stretch.

Certainly, that’s less of a problem with all of their offensive weapons healthy and operational, but it’s still something they were doing much better in October when it comes to defending and stopping pucks at the net.

It’s about fewer risky offensive chances for their defensemen trying to join the rush, and it’s about a better penalty kill after that special teams unit sprung a leak over the last week. That doesn’t mention the goaltending, but that could also stand to be much, much better with Rask starting vs. the Leafs and struggling through the month of November to this point.

“We just become less of a threat with that third line where it’s just ‘go out and check well and hopefully you get rewarded.’ We’ll see how [Trent Frederic] fits in there. We try not to change too much, but what we do need to do is be better defensively,” said Bruce Cassidy, who was acknowledging that the third line probably isn’t going to be a big offensive threat right now with Frederic, Par Lindholm and Danton Heinen filling it out. “We were for 40 minutes the other night [against Florida] until it completely fell apart. So that will be our goal tonight. We’re missing some guys that could typically help us at one end and so that’s our approach in that regard [on defense].”

Patrice Bergeron didn’t see it as a change of mindset for the B’s to get more conservative while missing their top-goal scorer behind the Perfection Line, and missing their top offensive defenseman in Krug. Instead it’s simply a return to the style of play that brought them tremendous success in the first month of the season, and what they did in allowing just 12 shots on net through the first 40 minutes against Florida before there were soft goals aplenty in the third period.

“It always comes back to playing the right way, having good defensive layers and a good forecheck. When you start moving forward and playing north/south, that’s when you get the most success and that’s when things open up to make the tougher plays,” said Bergeron. “Even when everybody is in the lineup, I think that is how we’re successful.

“We’ve been at our best when we don’t force things and let the play come to us, and have layers defensively. Then you can go back on the attack and do the damage. Obviously when you’re missing key guys it’s about everybody bringing it, being ready to play and our depth, and how important it is to rely on everybody in this locker room.”

Now would be the best time for the Bruins to snap back into place defensively as they travel to Toronto for a Friday night showdown with the rival Maple Leafs, and play more like the team that still ranks fourth in the NHL averaging just 2.50 goals per game allowed this season.

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Bobby Orr calls Don Cherry's firing 'disgraceful' says his former coach is 'not a racist'

Bobby Orr calls Don Cherry's firing 'disgraceful' says his former coach is 'not a racist'

Days later, the argument over Don Cherry’s comments on Hockey Night in Canada that sparked his dismissal is still going strong. Now, the NHL’s greatest player has weighed in. 

Bruins legend and Hall of Famer Bobby Orr stood up for Grapes when chatting with the Toronto Sun and WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni and Fauria" show in separate interviews Thursday and called his former coach's firing “disgusting” and “definitely unfair.”

Cherry was fired on Monday by Rogers Sportsnet in Canada after his comments over the weekend on his "Coach’s Corner" segment on "Hockey Night in Canada" when he went on a diatribe about people not buying poppies to support Canadian military veterans.

The former Bruins coach - Orr played for him in the 1974-75 and '75-76 seasons - didn’t just stop with a statement supporting the military, and regrettably segued into singling out immigrants to Canada as a group not supporting the military enough publicly. Cherry, 85, started it all off by saying “you people that come here” and that set off a firestorm of criticism in the US and Canada against the analyst who has been part of Hockey Night in Canada telecasts for almost 40 years.

Cherry said on the Nov. 9 telecast: “You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

Orr’s words carry a lot of weight in the hockey world in Boston, where he won a pair of Stanley Cups while revolutionizing the game, and all over Canada, where he’s still revered as the greatest hockey player of all time.

And he’s sticking by his buddy, nicknamed Grapes, which is admirable.

“He got fired on Remembrance Day. That is just wrong,” said Orr to the Sun. “The whole thing is unbelievable. Don Cherry is a good man and to do this to him is disgusting. I know what he was saying. We all know what he was saying. He was saying we should buy a poppy. All of us. You can take it any way you want, but he isn’t a bigot.

“Yes, he’s my friend. But I have known him a long time and I know he is not a bigot or a racist. He is the most honest and generous guy there is. He’s very good to the veterans, the police, the firefighters, minor hockey players and fans. They all know what he meant and I know what he meant.”

Orr told WEEI: "What they’ve done to him up there is disgraceful, it really is. It's a new world, I guess. Freedom of speech doesn't matter." He added that Cherry is "hurt, but he's going to be fine. He's getting some nice calls from his friends here in Boston. He is getting some wonderful support."

It’s still unknown exactly what awaits Cherry after his departure from Hockey Night in Canada, and it remains to be seen what Sportsnet will do to replace him with Brian Burke, Ray Ferraro and Mike Milbury mentioned as possible replacements for the bombastic analyst. 

While it was probably never going to matter when it comes to his ultimate fate with a corporate entity such as Rogers Sportsnet after Cherry's divisive, offensive language, it’s good to see that No. 4 still has Cherry’s back.

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