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Bear Essentials: December 11th

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
2:36  p.m.

Practice is done for the day and the Bruins have the rest of the day to themselves.

Bruins veteran P.J. Axelsson continued Shawn Thornton's postgame theme from Wednesday after today's practice.

"It hasn't been our best hockey," said Axelsson of the last two games. "We have to pick it up a little bit, and play with a bit more energy.

"That's probably the main thing.

"You've got to get it in your mind. You are going to be tired some nights but you have to fight through it," he said.

Axelsson said that there have been discussions pertaining to those topics in the locker room.

"We talk about it," he said. "You have to talk about it. Otherwise you are going to slide, quick.

"So hopefully we can come out tomorrow and have a little bit more energy -- especially with two games and then a four-game break. There's nothing to save it for."

Patrice Bergeron had a similar diagnosis.

"We have to play our game," said Bergeron. "We talk about it a lot...worrying about our system and our game.

"Our defensive zone coverage -- when we play well -- we can guard against anyone.

"At the same time...I think we have a great lineup offensively, as well.

"We can create some chances and when we have them we have to take (advantage) of our chances," he said.

Coach Julien reitterated that he feels that the B's destiny remains in their own hands.

"Again, I think it's about us and how we approach these games," he said. "I thought last night...there were some breakdowns and we can certainly be better.

"Some of the opportunities (Washington) had were off of our own turnovers.

"At the same time, we had some real good chances and we could have made it a different game if we capitalized. So you don't want to read too much into a loss, but you hopefully make those corrections," said Julien.

Coach Julien indicated that a loss can often refocus a team.

"Right now, it's (telling us) let's get back to work," he said. "Let's step back and let's create something again.

"We don't like losing. We don't want to lose two in a row. So, this game tomorrow means that much more."

12:40 p.m.

Greetings from Atlanta!

Boston hit the ice at noon in Philips Arena.

It looked like there were 13 forwards (Savard sat), six defensemen (Hnidy) and two goalies for the somewhat toned down (read that simple as opposed to easy) afternoon session.

No doubt in an effort to help the Bruins forwards get plenty of scoring opportunities, both goalies saw plenty of shots early.

"We had some chances we didn't bury," said Shawn Thornton. "That's really what it comes down to.

"The second half of the game, for the most part, we started playing our (system) -- getting pucks in, working down low and that was being successful.

"I think we have to bring a little bit more of that and just bury our chances," he said.

Thornton was not talking in a general sense, either. The Bruins energy line of Thornton, Stephane Yelle and Petteri Nokelainen all feel like they can contribute on the scoreboard, as well.

"Our line is included," said Shawn. "We had a ton of chances and can't put the puck in the ocean even if we fell out of a boat right now.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game, but had we buried our chances it could have been a different game and at least we could have taken it to extra minutes."

That said, Thornton did not betray any overt concern.

"We've got a good team in here and we'll respond on Friday, I'm sure," he said. "We'll get into Atlanta (Wednesday night), regroup tomorrow, think about it and come out and play hard on Friday and Saturday."

"That way we can, hopefully, make a good week out of it."

Thornton said that even before the Atlanta game Boston knew that they had strayed from their own systems.

"We wanted to have a good start and get back to playing our game," said Thornton. "That was all we were really focusing on.

"I think we picked up a couple of bad habits in those last few games against the teams down south and I think we just want to get back to our style."

Judging by the comments of the opposition, the sooner the Bruins do that, the better.

"I guess we love the big matchups, the big games," said Washington's Tom Poti (formerly a Boston University Terrier). "When we know it’s a huge test for us, we play a tough game, and it showed today that we are trying to gauge ourselves against the best.

"We went out and played hard, and we got the win.  

“We know they are in front of us, and we are chasing them.  Anytime we can steal two points off them, it’s huge.”

Right now, EVERYONE in the Eastern Conference (if not the NHL) is thinking the same exact thing.
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