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Bear Essentials: March 16th

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
It was the kind of game that brought you to the top of a mountain and then sent you tumbling down the slope – what, five, maybe six, times?

“Well I think it was pretty obvious to everyone who watched the game that when you take that many penalties, your chances of winning are very slim,” said Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien to Naoko Funayama, postgame on NESN.

“We were in the penalty box way too much tonight,” said Julien. “And some of the things that happened tonight – those slot goals [scored by Pittsburgh] – we addressed those before the game.

“We didn’t do a good job in that area.”

Boston did score four goals of their own -- often in dramatic style.

“I think the guys showed the courage to try and come back,” added the B’s coach. “We weathered the storm there for a little while with those penalties.

“A quick goal against us early in the game and we scored on the next shift – and those are the kinds of things that you want to see.

“But unfortunately, our undisciplined [play] cost us tonight.”

Indeed, it did.

While the B’s magic number hovers around four points, Boston has dropped out of the top spot in the NHL and now stands third with 99 points (behind Detroit with 101 and one game in hand and San Jose with 100 points and three games in hand).

In the conference, New Jersey looms (both literally and figuratively, as they visit the Garden next Sunday) just six points behind and with three games in hand.

“There were…too many penalties,” said Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson to NESN. “Especially in the offensive zone.

“It’s unacceptable to take all those penalties down there.”

Asked about the Penguins, a team that stands a full 17 points behind the Bruins, Axelsson simply said, “I think they were a lot better than us tonight.”

“It’s not a team you want to put on the power play,” said defenseman Mark Stuart to Kevin Paul Dupont of The Boston Globe. “They’re up there with Detroit for having the most offensive threats. 

“It seemed they had a lot of energy and jump, and for us it’s been hit or miss lately.”

Rookie forward Blake Wheeler, who scored and made several nice plays on both sides of the puck, was a microcosm of the B’s schizophrenic day. On the one hand, he was one of the B’s best all afternoon, but in the end, Wheeler held himself responsible for Pittsburgh’s third strike.

“I think we’re still trying to find exactly our identity again,” said Wheeler to Steve Conroy of The Boston Herald. “But starting with not a great penalty by me, we put them on the power play too much and that’s what we kind of fell victim to.”

Wheeler’s holding penalty lead to the power play goal by Gonchar.

“We let those guys have a lot of room and they made their plays on the power play and sooner or later, you give them enough tries, they’re bound to put a couple in.

“It’s our own fault.”

And there are only 11 more cracks at the regular season summit before the postseason trek up Mount Stanley.
The Bruins have Monday off and will return to practice Tuesday in Wilmington’s Ristuccia Arena.

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