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Bruins won't be caught looking ahead

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Two days remain before the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers ring in the New Year with the marquee matchup of the day in the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at frigid Fenway Park.

Despite all the buildup, Bruins players aren't expecting a letdown against the Atlanta Flames Wednesday night.

"It's one game at a time and tonight's game the most important game against Atlanta," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "That's how we have to approach it. We know we didn't have our best game (in a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay Monday) so we need to bounce back."

Bruins left wing Shawn Thornton agreed.

"We're focused on tonight," Thornton said. "We lost our last game and (Atlanta) hasn't been winning lately, so it's going to be an important game for both teams and should be fun to watch. Our focus is on what's going on tonight and not in a couple of days."

Before the club can even think about taking the ice before a sold-out stadium Friday, it must first work on a few areas of concern Wednesday night against the Thrashers at TD Garden.

Sure, the Thrashers enter the contest having lost five-straight and six of their last seven, but the Bruins have also struggled to find their groove on offense. In 14 of their 38 games this season, the Bruins have scored one goal or less. If you toss out a 6-4 victory over the Lightning on Dec. 23, the club has connected for just five goals over the last four games.

"We're doing our best to keep our focus on the game tonight," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We're playing a really good team tonight, even though they've lost five in a row. Good teams that lose five in a row usually get desperate and really hungry and dangerous and that's what we should be expecting. If we're not ready for that, it's our own fault."

Boston's offensive doldrums become magnified when you consider a struggling Atlanta team is currently third in the League with a 3.18 goals-per game average, while the Bruins rank third-to-last at 2.47.

"We would like to score more," Chara said. "Scoring three goals in two games probably isn't enough. At the same time, we give up three only, but we need to create more to get the lead and play more comfortably."

Wings Blake Wheeler and Byron Bitz have each gone without a goal in 13-straight games, reliable veteran Mark Recchi is goal-less in eight, Steve Begin hasn't scored in 29 and David Krejci has gone pointless in five.

"It's in here (locker room)," Krejci said. "We all have to find consistency. You can't think about any of that outside stuff. You just have to be focused on your job and get it done."

Atlanta defenseman Pavel Kubina expects to get the best from the Bruins.

"There are no easy games in the League when you play and they always play good at home," Kubina told NHL.com. "They are fast and are good on the forecheck and they play so well defensively, but we have to get out of this slump we're in right now."

"They're professional over there and I don't think they'll be looking past us," Thrashers forward Rich Peverley said. "There probably is a lot of excitement over there right now, but we've lost five in a row so this is a must-win game for us. We have to play desperate. The playoffs are right now -- we can't wait until March or April because if you fall behind it's tough to catch up. This is a key game for us against Boston."