Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
When they were at their best, the Bruins dominated time of puck possession by transitioning swiftly, employing a straight-line attack, and using their speed and skill to cycle deep in opposing zones.
Recently, general manager Peter Chiarelli has seen his passive players regrouping with the puck far too often, indicating that they’re not confident enough to turn up ice and fly into the teeth of other teams’ defenses.
“Now your forwards have to come back and everything has to move this way instead of that way,” Chiarelli said, pointing to the defensive side of the ice. “I’m not blaming the defensemen. I’m not blaming the forwards. I’m not blaming anybody. It’s something where the confidence isn’t there.”
It’s an affliction that is not unique to the 2008-09 Bruins.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
The loss underscored some ugly truths about the Bruins. They’re playing scared. They’re downright polite when they take leads. They think twice about turning in 60-minute efforts. And they’re not committed to being as hungry and desperate as their opponents.
“A couple things have to happen,” said coach Claude Julien, deep into his checklist of items in an attempt to revive his club. “Basically, all I have to say is that we’re going to have to start outworking other teams from start to finish like we were earlier in the season. And your best players have to find their games and give it the best they can for us to get out of it.”
from Joe Haggarty of WEEI,
A statement about which team ultimately wants first place and permanent home ice will be made in the rare Sunday afternoon matinee between the Devils and Bruins at the Garden, even if some players are feigning standings ignorance.
“Why? Where are they?” asked Aaron Ward when asked how hard it is to ignore the surge of the hard-charging and pointy-tailed Devils. “Does that answer your question?”
Don’t let the dose of B’s bravado fool you, however. Each of the Bruins players knows exactly where every relevant team is in the standings, and most of them read the newspaper every day. If they don’t check it in the morning edition or daily blog, then there is a giant dry-erase board with all of Eastern and Western Conference standings positioned in the hallway between the practice ice and the team dressing room.
from Douglas Flynn of the Hockey Journal,
No longer is it a matter of taking home the President’s Trophy for the NHL’s best regular-season record or even holding on to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Both goals are still attainable, but Western powers Detroit (103 points) and San Jose (100) have climbed past the Bruins. Boston still leads the East with 99 points, but New Jersey has closed within four points with two games in hand.
The Bruins aren’t conceding either race by any means. They just understand that even if they manage to squeak out either title, it will ring hollow if they carry their sloppy play into the postseason for another early playoff exit.
“Not as much as what we have to do to put our team back on track; I think that’s the most important thing right now,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, asked about the priority of finishing in first. “If we get this team back on track then the standings will kind of take care of themselves. As much as we’d like to finish as high as we can, I think the main priority right now really has to be on fine-tuning our game.”
from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,
In a quirk of the NHL schedule, the B’s play just twice in 12 days. And while they’re fine-tuning their game in Wilmington, New Jersey and Washington, the teams that have any real chance of catching the first-place B’s in the Eastern Conference, will each play a half-dozen games.
The Devils, six points behind the B’s, play four on the road, including Sunday’s huge matinee against the Bruins, while the Capitals, seven points back, play five straight on the road, beginning with last night’s loss in Atlanta. The Devils have three games in hand on the B’s.
By the time the Bruins resume playing in earnest, they very well could be looking up at one of those two teams.
from Matt Kalman of The Bruins Blog,
To Boston Bruin goaltender Manny Fernandez, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur’s breaking of Patrick Roy’s all-time wins record — which could occur Tuesday night against Chicago or any time over the next week or so now that Brodeur tied the record Saturday — is about more than just replacing the name of one great goaltender with another on the top of a list.
Fernandez thinks it’ll help Brodeur get his full due.
“He seemed to be a little bit in (Roy’s) shadow. And now he’s come around, he’s actually beating some of his records, people are starting to notice him a little more and talk about him,” Fernandez recently told TheBruinsBlog.net. “He’s a great goalie. He was born to play that sport; you can see that. He’s a guy that doesn’t get overstressed. He could be playing in a Game 7 and still look like it’s practice. That’s what you need.”
from Jack Edwards of Bruins Blog at NESN,
Kristian Huselius dove on Tuesday night. He did it to try to help his team win. The two points went to Columbus, and the Blue Jackets were happy in their room. The points will disappear into the account in the NHL standings, pad the stack and may put Columbus into the playoffs for the first time when all is said and done.
I have no idea what Huselius’ teammates said to him after the game, but I know this: If you pulled that crap on the kids in my neighborhood, you wouldn’t even get picked the next game. Nobody would have wanted you on his team. You could sit and think about being such a dink.
Actions define character. No matter what Huselius does from here on out, this one’s stuck on him like that slimy smile on Mike Ribeiro’s face in the spring of ‘04.
My spleen is vented, but Huselius left an indelible impression. While his teammates earned a win, he won himself a tag: diver.
from Puck the Media,
NBC must be super excited about having another Ranger game to air next week. The network’s telecast of New York’s victory over Boston drew a 1.0/3 in the 12:30 timeslot, according to Sports Business Daily. It’s about even with the comparable Pens-Capitals telecast from last year, and should equal or beat the final 0.8 rating Pittsburgh-Washington drew a year ago.
a bit more...
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
With even adequate netminding yesterday before a full house of 18,200 at Madison Square Garden, the Bruins easily would have pinned up their 44th win of the season. Instead, they once more suffered the inconsistencies of Manny Fernandez, his hard times ultimately leading to a gift-wrapped 4-3 Rangers win that added to the recovering spirit and playoff aspirations of the Broadway Blueshirts (now with three wins in a row under the bullwhip of new coach John Tortorella).
“I have to turn this around,” said a clearly frustrated Fernandez, who hasn’t posted a win since Jan. 8. “I can’t catch a break. It’s not even a question of good shots . . . it’s stuff you don’t usually see.”
from Joe Haggerty of WEEI,
The 2003-04 Calgary Flames were a rags-to-riches hockey story if ever there was one.
The Flames captured the imagination of a hockey-crazed city when they dragged themselves from a last place divisional finish one season prior to a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals….
Not surprisingly, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli always admired Sutter’s handiwork and the way he crafted that particular Flames team with a mixture of big-hearted grinders and skilled skaters all willing to take an occasional walk on the hockey wild side.
“I certainly liked Daryl Sutter as a person, I liked him as a player and I like him as a GM,” said Chiarelli. “I watched him coach and build teams, and he likes players that are like him. I think those players that he liked and could play for him are also the kind of players that make good Boston Bruins players….”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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