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A Big Series to End November, Start December

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins -- Ever since the first drop of the puck on the 2011-12 docket, it seems as if each and every game of the campaign represents "the biggest" game of the season -- at least for someone.

In reality, it's only November, but both the B's and the Buds have plenty riding on this week's home-and-home set between Boston and Toronto.

For the Bruins, it's a chance to retain last year's lofty position at the top of the Northeast Division.

For the Leafs, there's the opportunity to erase the memory of two lopsided losses to the Black & Gold earlier this season.

"It's not something you forget when you're on the receiving side," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien before the B's left for Canada. "So, I don't think it's going to be a hard game for them to get motivated for and we've just got to be ready for that.

"I keep saying the same thing, when we focus on ourselves and we just go out and do the things that we have to do; we're a lot better than when we worry about what's going to happen."

What's going to happen is anyone's guess, but B's center Chris Kelly spoke about what he expected when he and the B's hit the ice at the Air Canada Centre.

Bottom line: Kelly expects a ton out of Toronto.

"I don’t think you can give them too much time and space and too many second opportunities," said Kelly. "They do have guys that can score.

"I think [Phil] Kessel is leading the league in goals and points and [Joffrey] Lupul is doing extremely well, so you need to know when certain guys are on the ice and make sure you’re aware of them.

"I think the more we can play with the puck -- it makes it harder on them -- and make them play defense."

But beyond the mere X's and O's of the matchup, Kelly sees the bigger picture that the B's are so famous for ignoring.

"It’s a great opportunity for us to go in there and play well and try to...pass them in the standings," said Kelly. "They’re playing well and they’ve got a good team.

"I think they right now have a few injuries, but they’re finding ways to get wins. They went out West and did extremely well out there and that’s not an easy task."

But in order to paint the bigger picture, the B's have to focus on the smaller details.

"We know we need to come out with our best effort, but I think we’re focusing on the first period, not the sixth period," added Kelly.

Julien believes that the Bruins also have an opportunity to continue to build on a structure that has put the team on an 11-0-1 run.

"I just like the way we've been competing, but also the way we've been finding ways to win," said Julien. "That's been pretty important as well and in a long season, you can't always win the same way."

However, putting in a consistent effort seems the best way for the B's to win consistently in a season that has 60 games to go.

"Obviously, we want to finish this month on the right foot, but it’s November," said Kelly. "It’s an early month in the season and we all know that. We need to continue to play well.

"With everyone contributing, I think it makes it easy on everyone when certain guys aren’t feeling at their best, there’s another guy that steps up and helps them.

"I think there’s a lot of support in this room for one another."

As Coach Julien talked about the B's ability to get production throughout the lineup, Julien touched on the same point.

"I think we've been trying to really build our team that way now for a few years," said Julien. "And trying to get a t least 3 lines that can score on a regular basis -- and we've actually felt that our fourth line is one that can do that also.

"So I think the way our team is built right now is exactly the way we wanted it built."
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