Bruins' scoreless second line has to 'have more of an attack mentality'

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Bruins' scoreless second line has to 'have more of an attack mentality'

BOSTON – It’s been well-documented that the Bruins top-6 forwards have struggled during five-on-five play in the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues. None of the top six guys have any even-strength points in the series, and second-line center David Krejci has been completely shut out in the first four games of the series headed into Thursday night’s Game 5 against the Blues at TD Garden.

In fact, the two power-play assists for Jake DeBrusk ae the line’s only production in the series to this point and it’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed with the Bruins coaching staff.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed with the players on the Krejci line either.

“I think it goes to mindset. There are things they’re doing well and you’ve got to give them credit with how they play 5-on-5,” said DeBrusk. “But it’s also our mindset on the ice and thinking more about attacking the net, and doing the things that we need to do to generate [offense]. Obviously we’re focusing on that tonight.

“This time of year the margins are thin and things are amplified in each game. We’d like to get on the board. It’s about getting looks and making sure that we score on those.”

It didn’t look like there were going to be any big changes up front headed into Game 5 with both Matt Grzelcyk and Zdeno Chara both appearing like they are going to play for the Bruins.

So it will be up to DeBrusk, Krejci and David Backes to do something different than what’s played out in the first four games, and Bruce Cassidy hoped it would include a more aggressive, spread out plan of attack through the neutral zone.  

“They had a little bit of a session yesterday to try to kind of revisit why they were successful at times against Columbus or Toronto, previous opponents. How they get them to be more effective against how St. Louis plays also matters,” said Cassidy. “I think when they’re supporting the puck originally against St. Louis, because they’re long, they get there in a hurry, so you have to outnumber them in a hurry then.

“[You] try to spread out, not the opposite, that’s what we’ve found anyway. We can’t get too far. Our spacing has to be good, tight early, then start spacing once you separate to start making those east-west plays in the O-zone. I think just to have more of an attack mentality coming out through the neutral zone supporting one another and how to find common ground with each other.”

The hope that some meetings and some discussion changes something with the second line headed into Game 5. It’s all hands on deck and they need something from a player in Krejci who's always been a big game performer, and the rest of his line as well.  

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Slumping Bruins say matchup against Capitals 'should get our attention'

Slumping Bruins say matchup against Capitals 'should get our attention'

The Bruins are always wary going into Capital One Arena given the recent history between the Bruins and Washington Capitals, where the Caps have dominated the Black and Gold for the better part of the last 10 years.

Sure, the Bruins have sprinkled in a win here or there, but the big, fast and skilled Capitals team has routinely pushed Boston around in these matchups between Eastern Conference powers and was the victor in the only recent playoff series between the two teams way back in 2012.

This season, the Capitals and Bruins are No. 1 and No. 2 in the Eastern Conference in terms of record and points through the first two-plus months of the season, and Washington won in a shootout in the teams' only matchup earlier this season in Boston.

Both teams lost in their last games, so there will be hunger for both elite clubs to get back into the win column. But things should be a lttle more desperate for a Bruins team that’s lost three games in a row, including back-to-back regulation games for the first time this season, and has seen their lead in the division “drop” to 10 points with a surging Florida Panthers club chasing them.

“Over the years they have had the better of us, so we’d better be ready to play. Their record this year backs that up,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’re more concerned about ourselves, but the opposition tonight should get our attention. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

More than anything, however, the Bruins have seemed to lack focus or motivation in the last couple of weeks with forgettable opponents like the Senators and Blackhawks getting the better of them while they hold a commanding lead in their own division. It goes without saying that the challenge of the big, tough and dangerous Capitals should be exactly what the Bruins need to rise to the occasion, and that will be followed on Thursday night by a date with the Tampa Bay Lighting in Amalie Arena.

“[The Capitals] are obviously very dominant. They’ve had our number over the last several years, so it’s definitely one we tend to pay a little more attention to,” said Brad Marchand. “It’s always a hard building to play in. [It’s] a loud, obnoxious crowd so they gain energy from that. It’s a game we know we have to be prepared for. It doesn’t always go our way, so hopefully this one will.”

If anything can snap the Bruins out of their recent self-induced slumber over the last week, it’s the natural challenge of playing against a Capitals team that’s served as the ultimate challenge for them over most of the last decade.

Watch tonight's Bruins-Capitals game on NBCSN beginning at 7 p.m., or live stream the game by clicking here.


Bruins vs. Capitals live stream: Watch NHL game online

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Bruins vs. Capitals live stream: Watch NHL game online

The two-best teams in the Eastern Conference (and perhaps the entire NHL, too) will square off Wednesday night when the Washington Capitals host the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena.

The Capitals lead the league with 49 points and have won seven of their last 10 games. Washington's offense has been red-hot with a league-leading 114 goals scored in 32 games.

The Bruins have 46 points atop the Atlantic Division, but their recent play has failed to impress. The B's have lost three consecutive games, including a lackluster 5-2 defeat to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. Wednesday's matchup is the second in a four-game road trip for Boston. This trip also includes tough games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

The Capitals have owned this matchup in recent seasons. Washington has won 15 of its last 16 games against Boston, as well as the most recent playoff series between these teams in 2012. 

Will the Bruins end their losing streak and send a message to the rest of the East with a statement win on the Capitals' home ice? Here's how to watch Bruins vs. Capitals on your computer or mobile device.

When: Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports

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