The Boston Bruins return from their latest road trip on a 9-1-1 clip. Their latest victory, a 3-2 win over the scrappy Toronto Maple Leafs in front of 19410 in the Air Canada Center was less than an opus, but the Black & Gold earned a day off from B’s head coach Claude Julien, nonetheless.
“We’ve been playing a lot of hockey, lately and I sense a little bit of mental fatigue on our part,” he said. “We’ve got a chance here to get a day before we play the next one.
“We’re in a stretch of 10 (games) in 18 (days) and we’re going to be in for a tough ride.
“So we have to make sure we get our rest,” he said.
Julien was pleased that the Bruins had held on for the win in the four pointer in T.O.
“We knew they were going to want to (come out strong), but we had a good start and got ourselves a 2-0 lead,” explained the B’s bench boss. “But after a while it slipped and they got themselves back.
“As soon as they got the first goal, that gave them some momentum and they got back into the game. That third goal gave us a little bit of a cushion, but it was one of those situations where they kept coming hard at us.
“They are a team that we know, every night, competes hard. They come at you hard from start to finish and that’s (why they have) the respect that they’ve earned around the league.
The unfortunate thing (for) the Leafs right now is that nobody is taking them lightly, so they are facing teams that are ready to play against them because of what they’ve established in that short period of time.
“They are a team that comes and plays hard and they don’t give up.”
No doubt P.J. Axelsson spoke for many of his teammates with his assessment.
“It’s nice, but it wasn’t pretty,” he said. “We were a little lucky today – they had a lot of chances to get the third goal, it was nice to pull it off.
“We showed some character and we played hard (but) at the same time we have to go at them a little bit harder. We can’t just sit back and let (teams) come at us.”Thomas turns it onTim Thomas
had another outstanding performance on Monday night. He made 28 saves and was a major factor in the Bruins victory – but he had some help.
Boston’s goalposts made five saves by one pressbox count.
Asked about the help from his four foot tall red painted buddy, Thomas said, “The post is round, so I only have to protect the inside of the post.
“I knew they weren’t going in.”
In all seriousness, however, the ugly nature of the game’s play had some press personnel shaking their heads.
Thomas defended his team bluntly and said, “At different points in the season you’re going to have to win different ways.
“Could we have played better? Definitely.
“But are we happy to get the two points? Definitely.”
“He’s been playing well for us, and I can’t say enough about the guy,” said Julien of the goaltender. “Since day one he’s been great.
“And our other goaltender has done the job (too).
“One of the reasons you win hockey games is (that) your goaltenders are good and we’ve got two of them right now that are doing a great job.”Michael hits his mark
It had been a while since Michael Ryder had found some twine, but since he had played so well otherwise, nobody seemed particularly concerned – besides Michael, himself.
“We all know that (Michael) can score goals,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara
. “He just needs to find that zone where he is going to be playing with a lot of confidence.
“It’s good (for Ryder) that he scored tonight…and it’s good for the team.”
“At some point (players) certainly feel a bit of pressure,” said Coach Julien. “(They) want to score goals.
“But he’s had opportunities, so it’s not from a lack of opportunities.
“And tonight, obviously, it was the winning goal, but it’s the type of goal we’ve seen Michael Ryder score many times.”
Ryder was predictably relieved.
“Yah, definitely, it was good to get one, especially in a tight game like that,” he said. “Toronto always finds a way to (work) their way back into the game and they did it again.
“They kept pushing and we stayed strong and managed to come up with two points.”
Ryder also reiterated his belief that Boston was an outstanding fit for him.
“It didn’t take me very, very long (to fit in Boston), that’s for sure,” he said. “The guys welcomed me in pretty easily and it didn’t take me long at all.
“The toughest part was just getting used to a new system, and stuff like that, and playing with different guys. But (now) it’s good and it’s a good fit.”Next Up: Buffalo
The Buffalo Sabres will travel to Boston to face the Bruins on Wednesday evening.
Buffalo fell to the Penguins on Saturday in Pittsburgh as Jordan Staal had two goals, including the tiebreaker late in the third period. Pittsburgh scored four third-period goals to rally for their sixth straight victory, 5-2. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville scored for Buffalo but the Sabres lost for the second straight night after falling 6-1 at home to Columbus.
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.Material from the AP was used in this report.